Travel to Mexico with newly diagnosed T1D child

I had been planning a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for the family next spring. Now, with my newly diagnosed T1D son (age 11), I am considering dumping these plans and staying in the country. I have been reading all of the discussions about travel, and see that it is possible to get safely through security. But, I am more scared about just being there and worried that if something went wrong, or if we couldn't find the right food, or we ran out of medicine... Does anyone have any advice for a newly diagnosed (8/27/13) child? Should we go at all?

Yes you should go! If you worry about the what if’s, you will never leave your home whether it’s in 6 months or 6 years. It’s all about preparation and organization. I made a travel check list and did not leave until it was checked twice. Just have back up supplies and your emergency numbers for your doctors. You guys will be fine! And we are all here for you!

Hi Heidi

My daughter was diagnosed in November 2013 and we had a trip planned to Florida April 2014. We immediately went to cancel it, but decided to hold off and see how things were going in a couple of months. We decided to go as all the kids were so excited and my daughter was responding really well to the treatment.

We had no problems getting through the airports. You can get travel letters from your doctor so you can bring all the supplies with you. Never check you diabetes supplies always carry on with you and bring extra supplies as well. I think we ended up bringing triple the actual supplies needed for our trip. We also made sure we knew where the nearest medical clinic/hospital were in case of an emergency. Our trip was successful and we are planning to go away again. Everyone has different comfort levels so you need to do what is right for you and your family. Talk to you diabetes team as well as they can give you some great advice on travel.

Hello, My heart aches for you. My 3yo was diagnosed 2 weeks before we were set to go on a long trip. I wanted to scrap it, as did my husband. But the docs encouraged us to go. They said it would be a good distraction for the kids...and also, if you can learn to manage diabetes while on the go, travelling will seem less daunting. We went. It was horrible! But, looking back, I am so glad we went. They were right, after that travelling was a breeze, the kids had a blast, and we all survived.

Best of luck, it does get easier.

I totally understand. My son who is 11 as well was just diagnosed in February and we are planning to travel next week in the US. Have you checked with the hotels to see if they can recommend and/or suggest places to dine as well as nearest hospitals/doctors. Even though we are traveling in the US, I have done my research on what the nearest hospital is that specializes in pediatric endocrinology. What have you learned about getting through security? We plan on leaving 3 hours before our flight. Sorry I couldn't be more help to you and I sure hope you don't have to cancel your travel plans. I am sure your son is looking forward to it!

Thank you, this information is helpful as we have a trip planned and I am very concerned as to how we will travel with all of our required supplies. I have a doctor's letter to bring and I checked out the closet hospital.

We had taken our 2 year old T1 ( and non D 6 yr old and 8 month old) on a trip to Europe 6 mos after diagnosis (she was MDI at the time) - it was crazy with the long flight, time change,a broken double stroller, giving shots on a tour bus and everything else but we were glad we did it - it really felt like after that trip that diabetes was not going to hold us back. So I think you should take that trip - you will feel like you can do anything afterwards (even if you don't feel that way on the trip). You will probably have some great stories either way...
Good Luck!!


Type-1 diabetes is hard, especially in the beginning. Travelling with type-1 diabetes is even harder. But it can be done, it just takes a little bit of advance planning.

I have 2 children with type-1. When we travel I always make sure I have at least twice the amount of supplies than I would need for the same time period at home (For example if we are going away for 1 week I make sure I have at least 2 weeks worth of supplies). By supplies I mean insulin, test strips, pump supplies, needles, and fast acting sugar. I also bring a large supply of 15 carb snacks. If we are going on a plane I carry all of the supplies (except for maybe most of the snacks) in a carry on bag. (You definitely DO NOT want to put your insulin in a checked bag. The extreme temperatures in the hold of a plane can damage the insulin)

I understand that you are worried about not being able to get the snacks/food you need while in Mexico. Cabo San Lucas is a very touristy area. I have never been, but I would assume that they have a wide selection of grocery/convenience stores for you to get supplies. I would ask at the front desk when you check into your hotel.

I think it is so important for you to go. Diabetes controls so much of your child's life now (and yours). You want him to know that he can do ANYTHING with diabetes...even go on a trip to Mexico. I'm not saying it will be easy, but I would encourage you to go.Don't let diabetes control you!!


I think it's way too early to make that call. Take some time to get a feel for how the management of your son's condition is going, and if in, say, January or February, you still are having trouble maintaining a routine or keeping his BGs under control, THAT would be the time to cancel your plans. But Mexico is not without appropriate resources for diabetes care, so I wouldn't cancel just yet — only if you are still in a position where your son's diabetes care is a struggle when you get closer to the time of the trip.

Some considerations:

First, you do need to have all your ducks in a row for travel, which means not only a doctor's letter, but appropriate containers for storing insulin, MDI/pump supplies, additional meds like Zofran [I would not dare travel to Mexico without it, not after having the worst case of food poisoning in my LIFE in Oaxaca!]. You'll especially want something that can keep the insulin cool. There are a number of options out there; personally, I just use a miniature cooler with ice packs, but I'm told that some of the snazzier gel pack thingys are really quite nice. I've seen several people rave about Frio products.

One thing you might contemplate is doing some research to find medical facilities or physicians in Cabo that could offer you appropriate care or write a script for insulin if you need it. This page is a good place to start; you might also contact the ADA to find out if they have a list of providers in the area that they recommend. Another suggestion is, contact the drug company who makes the insulin your son uses and find out how readily available it might be in Mexico. If it's not easy to get your hands on a vial should there be a problem, either arrange to bring extra or talk to your doctor about what an appropriate substitute might be (that's available in Mexico).

Bear in mind that if you're going to be experience a major temperature change (going from a cool climate to a warm one) you may see some lows at first. Test more often and keep juice/candy nearby.

As far as food is concerned, you're basically going to have to go with the "guess-and-correct" routine, where you guesstimate the number of carbs in whatever he eats and then either give him soda/juice or a correction bolus when [not if] you guess wrong. So you may be dealing with some wacky highs and lows along the way, but keep your cool and understand that as long as you pay attention and keep juice boxes, soda, or candy nearby, you'll be OK. And believe me when I tell you that there WILL be all of these things readily available. Remember that you can always deal with a high by doing windsprints! Exercise is your friend in that regard, and if you've got all the exercise you need and then some, that's why we carry juice and candy everywhere we go.

Ultimately, I hope that you won't cancel out of fear — I know that in those first few months post-diagnosis, it's pretty damn scary all the freaking time. But you will get past that phase. We all do, more or less... which isn't to say even 5 years down the pike, I don't have a few moments... but in any case, don't make any final decisions while you're still in it. Wait and see if you fall into a rhythm in the next 3-5 months, and if you don't, that's when you decide about canceling. But wouldn't it just stink to cancel now, only to realize in the spring that, hey, you've got this thing under control, and maybe you should've not canceled?

Ditto what everyone here has said. We carry ziplock bags full of all extras- one with my husband and one with me, plus his regular "kit". We also carry a letter.
The only problem we have ever had is, ironically, with the juice boxes. Some sort of chemical from our garage was detected on one, and as a result I got the "full deal" pat down. Well hello there! You may want to bring non-juice fast acting sugars in the kit, and purchase something for the plane after security. They won't blink and eye at the needles, though. The juice is what they are after! :)

My 12 year old son was diagnosed one year ago this month, and we traveled shortly after. It was not without stress and vigilance, but after all you have been through, mom, you deserve some time on the beach. Look at it as a time to regroup as a family and heal from what you have been through. Cabo is a well populated place, and if you google health care there I bet you will find a good facility. Just know where it is.

I LOVE these bags that keep insulin cool:
And wouldn't travel without them.

Also, if you pack a case of juice boxes in the suitcase you may feel better. Ziplock them! You will find lots of juice in any store in Mexico.

Please message me your phone # if you want to talk about this more. Really. Happy to talk it through.

Wow! Really great advice. Thanks so much. I will wait on the decision.

Thank you for the support! I am feeling more brave.

I just purchased the bags and I am so glad that you mentioned it. We are traveling both this week and next week and am looking forward to using them.

Did you decide to go?

They saved us in hot weather many times!