Traveling with Diabetes

Taken from The DiabeticDuo

The Holidays are right around the corner and a lot of you will be traveling to go see friends and family. I was reading an article from Diabetes News Hound about air travel and the pump. I have to say that most of the article is good and shows common sense…except for one part. The author recommends that you not disclose that you have the pump. I would venture to say that is a huge no no. I would never put my travel plans at risk due to looking like I am hiding something. It’s not like you can say “oh I forgot I had that”. It’s attached to your body!! We have traveled a few times with the kids and every time we show full disclosure. My kids aren’t on the pump, but I don’t see why that should be any different. Some things I would recommend.

Doctor’s Letter: Make sure you have this in plenty of time for travel. I haven’t traveled within New Zealand via air yet, but my assumption would be that airport security is still going to check your bags. Make sure the letter states every single item you use. “Kelsey is traveling with supplies that support the management of her diabetes. These include: Needle tips, lancets, two forms of insulin Humalog and Lantus…” I believe spelling it out completely by the doctor goes a long way when you are being looked over by airport security. If the doctor says you need that item, then there is no questioning it.

Full Disclosure: As you put your things on the conveyer belt to go through the x-ray machine, I always tell the security guy. “Hey, my kids are diabetic…here is their letter and you are going to see needles come up on the screen.” Then it’s in the open, they see you are honest and I have never had a problem.

Prepare for being Delayed: You must leave enough time for you to be pulled aside. This can happen whether you are diabetic or not, but you must make the assumption that you will be pulled aside and expected to explain all the supplies you have in your possession. The last thing you want is to miss your flight because airport security is doing their job and you didn’t get there early enough.

Positive Disposition: Stay positive and and answer all questions. After all, if you have disclosed what you have and you have your letter from the doctor…things should move along very smoothly.

When we moved to NZ, I was prepared for the worst at the airport. When my husband was laid off from his job and we knew our health insurance was going to end, I starting stocking up on as many supplies as possible. I wanted to bring all of those supplies with us to NZ because I didn’t know how long it would take me to get in to see a doctor. I made our US Endo include in her letter that we were in fact moving to NZ (not just traveling) and that was why I was carrying a full cooler of insulin. I had two months supply of needle tips, lancets and test strips. All of which were in their own little suitcase (remember I have two diabetic kids, that’s quite a bit of stuff!). We got to the airport extremely early, because I had no idea how security was going to feel about my taking so much insulin and supplies out of the country. US security was really cool. I was open and up front with any and everyone that I thought might stop us. None of them gave me a second thought. We passed through check points so easily, it was kind of unnerving. The same goes for when we landed in New Zealand. I got my letters back out and told everyone who I thought would hold us up what we had. They pushed us right through. I know the trip went smoothly because I was prepared and honest. My recommendation is that you do the same. Do not hide any of your diabetic supplies, not even your pump. Even if people are misinformed, they know what diabetes is. The pump should not alarm airport security if you tell them you have it.

If you are planning on traveling by air this holiday season, please keep the above in mind. The holiday’s can be stressful enough, do yourself a favor and prepare to make the travel part a bit easier.

Side Note: When we moved, I also had copies of the doctors letters inside the supply suitcase, my purse and on each kid. We also had extra stuff on the container with all of our belongings. I had a couple of extra test kits and more supplies. I put a copy of the letters in those boxes too just in case they searched our container upon entering the country.

If you are staying in a hotel room that doesn’t have a frige for your insulin, be careful about asking the hotel staff to put it in theirs. I did this at a B&B in Ireland and the well-meaning hostess put all my insulin right under the freezer compartment, freezing and ruining it. I had to get a RX faxed over from the U.S. and filled in an Irish pharmacy–quite a hassle with the time difference. Better to bring home a cup of ice from a restaurant and chill your insulin on the nightstand.

Good Point. We usually keep the insulin in a cooler with ice. I put a rag over the ice so the insulin isn’t right on top of it. It can also be stored on the bottom shelf of the in room fridge too. When we moved we were lucky enough to be put up in an apartment, so there were no issues.