Traveling internationally as a new pumper!

Hello everyone,
Hope you’re all doing great. I’m actually new here -heard about this website on DiabeticDanica’s youtube channel, she’s been a great help especially her tutorials-
I’m going to be traveling this summer for 2 months and a half. I’ll be going to France and Saudi Arabia -sadly dexcom and animas don’t ship internationally- but I’ve already got 3 months supply just in case already (Dexcom was so great at understanding and shipping me extra just in case) I’m a bit concerned with the TSA and going through security with my supplies and while wearing a cgm and a pump!
I’ve already got a note from my doctor explaining what I need to carry and why. However, I can’t help but worry -its always scary going through security check points :blush:
Do you guys have any advice or recommendations? Also should I adjust my basal to temp and reduced it? (I tend to get lows whenever I fly) My flight is going to be really long (almost 24 hours) with 2 stops.

Hi! I don’t know much about Saudi Arabia but as someone who has travelled to France with an insulin pump eight times, I have never had any problems whatsoever with them. Just make sure you know the word for diabetic in the languages the safety guys speak (although ‘diabetic’ doesn’t change much between languages: In French, it is diabétique) and show them the doctors note and medication before they put it through the big scary bag checking machine. If you do this, they believe you, especially when you show them the insulin pump.
Hope this has been relatively useful,

DHF Interim Acting Executive Director Melissa Lee wrote an excellent column explaining some things she observed with her pump here: Flying with a pump

A temp reduced basal may or may not get the same effect as unplugging like she suggests as it’s hard to say what comes out of the pump and into you when you’re talking about an environment where your pump does something outside of what it’s engineered to do. If the changes in air pressure cause a “squirt” of insulin in your insulin pump (which seems likely given Melissa’s explanation…) , her workaround seems practical and smart!

I have traveled internationally for 17 years with my pump, without problems (and now 6 years with a CGM). I always have a note from my doctor, both in English and in the language of the country that I am visiting, explaining my medical devices. In the Madrid airport, I did have to pull out my note because their TSA had questions about my CGM. After their TSA read my note, off I went without a problem. Good luck to you and have a great trip!

Thank you everyone, your replies are really helpful! :smiley:
@acidrock23 I checked the link you posted and its interesting to read about it. When I was on MDI i would always get the “baggage claim low” lol
My flight has two stops (trying to find another booking with one stop so fingers crossed) so I’m gonna experiment with connecting and disconnecting my pump.
Will keep u guys updated :wink:
Thank you again.

Carry the letter, but almost no one will want to see it.

Be communicative, cooperative, but stick to your guns. Security personal may occasionally tell you to put a pump that’s not safe to be x-rayed through an x-ray machine, for example, just nicely but firmly decline, they’ll accommodate you. Actually, their days are pretty boring, so I found that often they actually seemed to enjoy the special treatment I needed back when I traveled internationally with a pump.

I was pleasantly surprised at how painless all this was the vast majority of the time.

1 Like

I totaly agree. Sometimes it is necessary to insist on your rights. I always prevent pump and CGM from x-ray and do not walk through body scanners. TSA officals have always been very friendly when I asked for manual pat down.
In the USA and Canada I was allowed to bring a bottle of water with me through the safety procedure as I am diabetic. Don’t know the reason why it is so but who cares. So I saved some $ at the shops beyond security control. Btw. I never managed to do so in Europe.

1 Like

CGM should be fine with x-rays, just a generic electronic device (albeit a medically important one).

Pumps rely on very delicate motors that, in theory, could be harmed by an x-ray device cranked way up to try to see through something more opaque in accompanying luggage. In practice, x-ray machines are probably safe, but most pumps aren’t certified to be safely passed through them and you might as well err on the side of caution. Plus taking a pump off to put it through an x-ray machine is a hassle and entails some risk of being separated from it for longer (e.g. if there’s a security situation right when it goes into the machine). Body scanners are very weak x-rays, most likely safe, but again pumps may not be certified to be safe through them and why take the risk?

You might be able to talk your way through with a bottle of water–good chance they’ll want to swab it, though–but trying and failing to get it through seems like it might attract extra scrutiny. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with that.

1 Like

Greetings from Saudi Everyone!
I am finally in Jeddah (got here last night and I am still exhausted!)
So my trip to France was ok can’t say I loved it for some reason I didn’t </3

Leaving from San Francisco to Paris was great, the TSA were more than nice and very kind as well. One of them even joked about going to France too. They didn’t ask to see the note and simply checked my insulin bag and that was it.

Leaving from Paris though was a different story! Sadly they refused to even listen and I was already late for my flight so they made me go through the metal detector and made me put my insulin through the x-ray machine! The first guy was kind at first and opened my insulin bag and checked it but his colleague insisted that it goes through the x-rays and that I too go through the screening, he kept talking to me in French knowing that I wouldn’t understand a word. They then had me go through my carry-on and checked my infusion sets and everything inside my bag.
I was already stressed and freaked out (I honestly didn’t want to miss my flight) that I ended up crying!
My return trip to San Francisco in August is through Air France as well and honestly I’m terrified of going through this whole process again.

My diabetes rarely puts me in inconvenient situation but this time I hated this I hated that I have to carry a note justifying wearing a necessity! I can’t expect every TSA or every security checkpoint to understand my situation and it just made me sad and overwhelmed knowing that I have to endure this.

I have to say that despite such treatment, other people were very nice to me which I guess restored my faith in humanity. One of the air hosts/stewards filed a complaint for me and told me I can do the same once I’m back in the States. He even upgraded my seat to business class. Another passenger asked if I was feeling alright since she overheard that I was diabetic and she has a daughter who has been diabetic for 24 years now.
So thank you for everyone who helped or listened or even cared to ask why I was crying. Most importantly thank you members of tudiabetes for creating such a platform where people like me know they’re not alone.

Hope everyone is having a great day/night.



well, Salam :blush: Be careful

Wow–it sounds like they were deliberately being nasty, and it’s hard not to conclude that had something to do with your ethnicity and destination. Jerks. I had to go through security leaving Paris this spring, headed for London, and had no trouble about not putting my pump or CGM through the scanners.

Anyway, I hope you have a blessed Ramadan with your family now you’re safely there. Lot of adjustments to make with the time zone and diet changes and whatnot–let your TUD friends know if you need any help!


Sorry to hear about the bad experience. But to clarify a few things…metal detectors should be perfectly safe. Their magnetic field is a potential problem for super sensitive devices like pacemakers, but should be a non-issue for a pump, CGM, or anything else relevant to us. And x-rays are perfectly fine for your insulin, it’s just your pump that is probably not certified to go through an x-ray machine, because if the machine were cranked way up to see through something opaque, it could conceivably damage the delicate motor in your pump (though that’s unlikely). Body scanners are a weak form of x-ray, are almost certainly fine for pumps, but if a pump is not certified for an x-ray machine, it won’t be certified for a scanner, either, and might as well play it safe.

French airport security are notoriously bad about “customer service.” Though the specifics don’t sound unusual–metal detector for you and insulin through x-ray machine seem reasonable, at least to me. Deep breath, you can handle this, even the occasional jerk working the security line.


Thank you for the clarification. I appreciate it :slight_smile: