Traveling with Type 1 child - tips/thoughts/suggestions

We live in WY and my parents live in FL. We have not been to visit them in 2 years. I am considering taking the kids (we have 3, ages 12, 5 and almost 2) to see them this year, but my husband would not be traveling with us since he does not have vacation time built up yet.

The options are driving (3-4 days), flying (3 hour drive to the airport, travel time of about 9 hours with layover and then an hour drive to my parents house) or going on the train (3 days). My husband thinks flying would be best from the standpoint of getting it over with quickly.

I am REALLY freaked out about flying and the TSA as I personally have had a couple bad experiences and that was before the most recent “upgrades” to security. My 5 year old has type 1 and I am also VERY concerned about how he will react to the whole security issue, especially if someone he does not know touches him (this was an issue before diabetes, but has gotten worse). I am freaked out that I won’t pack his insulins correctly and they will take it away (we are on MDI) - freaked to the point that I have had nightmares about it. That said flying has the appeal of only taking one day to get there

So I guess my questions are have you flown with your D child? What was your experience? Tips or suggestions? Do you think that is the best way to go?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/wisdom you have to share.

I personally think you are over thinking this. Have your endo write a letter regarding your sons medications. Pack them just like you would if you were leaving the house to go to the store. Do not pack any diabetic supplies in your luggage, rather in a carry out bag with you. Have a prescription available if needed at a pharmacy in Florida near your parents house in case anything was to happen to the stuff you take with you (and I dont mean them taking it from you, I mean breakage, losing it etc.). Pack snacks in case while flying he is in need of something. A sealed bottle of water wouldnt be a bad idea either. If he has a low in the air, a few sips of regular pop and a complex carb and he should be good.

When you are going through screening, let the screener know ahead of time that you are carrying diabetic supplies.

Take a deep breath and make these plans to go see your parents.

TSA is there to keep you safe. The inconveniece of their screening is worth in the long run. Maybe explain to your son ahead of time what to expect.

We fly frequently with both of our type 1 kids - it can be a challenge, but preparation is the key!

  1. Make sure he is wearing a medic alert bracelet
  2. Get a note from your endo stating your son’s condition, lists all of his medications, supplies and food needs
  3. Make sure your insulin is in the box from the pharmacy, with the label present
  4. Bag all of your stuff in plastic bags, and have it easily accessible when you approach security. We always pack the insulin with an ice pack.
  5. Take the bag of diabetes stuff out of your carry on and put it separately so they can see it and easily examine it. The good news (!) is that there are lots of diabetics and most of the TSA personnel are pretty familiar with what diabetics carry.
  6. Neither one of my kids are into being touched (and they are a lot older than yours), but I have to say that the few times that my younger son has had to go through “additional” screening, the security folks have been very sensitive, and handled the whole thing as professionally as possible.
  7. If you are using a pump, make sure you find out how it needs to be screened. Many, if not all, should not be put through the x-ray machines. Both of my kids are on the OmniPod, and we have found that it works best for them to not wear any pumping sets through security. They take them off before we leave the house and change their pods after we get through security.
  8. Both kids traveled without me last summer to visit both sets of grandparents. The flight was totally full and the stewardess tried to make my son (12) check one of his bags. He told her they were full of life saving medical supplies and could not be checked!

Be prepared with lots of extra food because you never know when you might be hit with some sort of delay. We always bring tons of small bags of snacks, in addition to one substantial meal. Sugar free gum too, to help with the air pressure!

I think flying is definitely the best way to go. The amount of “sitting around” time (compared to driving or taking the train) is minimal, and you won’t have as many highs to manage. Plus, you’ll have more time to enjoy the sunshine in Florida!

I have found that my kids definitely follow my lead. If I come unglued over something, they pick up on it right away and it makes things worse. Try to keep your cool, be reasonable, polite and knowledgeable. Check out the TSA’s website for information and know what you are allowed to have!

Good luck and have a great trip!



We fly often as my husband works for an airline. We were on shots for part of the time, and are now on the OmniPod. We took tons of needles, insulin, lancets, etc rigth on the plane. I have her carry everywhere bag and put everything else in my carry on. I have the pharmacy print prescriptions for everything we carry. We’ve had no problems, in fact, it was me trying to tell them what everything was for and they were like ‘oh, ok, go on through’

I agree, take a deep breath and go see your parents!

We flew over Christmas and didn’t have any problems at all. I told the agents right away that we were carrying diabetic supplies, and there were absolutely no questions or extra scrutiny. On the way out, I didn’t carry water or juice - figured I’d just buy some once we got through security. On the way home, my son had a bad cold and was running low, so I carried a couple of juice boxes with me. I figured that if it proved to be a big issue, I would toss them and get juice inside the terminal. The security agent took the juice boxes, checked them with some kind of machine, then gave them back. That added all of 20 seconds to our clearance time.

My son carried his meter, insulin pen and all his “normal” gear in his backpack. I carried all the extra supplies (syringes, Lantus, ketone strips, extras of everything) in my backpack in a carrying case I found online. The case had a gel pack in it to keep his unopened insulin cool, and, again, no problems. We also had a letter from our endo that indicated all the supplies he needed, including ice packs, water and juice, in addition to all the gear - I never had to use the letter, but I felt better having it with me.

I know there is the odd security agent who exists to make passengers miserable, but the vast majority of them are reasonable, nice people who will be thoughtful and respectful, especially if you behave that way toward them.

My advice - pack up your stuff, have it accessible, take a deep breath, and enjoy your trip!

My over thinking comment was due to your having nightmares. I do the same thing but mine is just because of my fear of flying. I over think it to the point where I cant sleep. Of course you should be concerned that everything goes smoothly.

With insulin, needles, lancets etc, you can have a doctor write you a list of everything you need to have with you. I would assume you didnt have such a note for breast milk and a breastpump.

We will have to agree to disagree because I am thankful that TSA does the screening they do. Even if they arent doing a perfect job, at least those who would want to do harm realize that they stand a big chance of being searched. Their searches make me feel much safer flying.

Actually, I was talking about an insulin pump (I am many years removed from breast feeding, and that thought didn’t cross my mind!)

I am under no illusion about what the TSA does for us - I was just happy with the way they treated my son when they were “frisking” him, because his pump beeped on the way through the metal detector.

Good luck in whatever you decide - we are headed out of town tomorrow by plane, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will go (relatively) smoothly!

I know my nephew (who hated the bracelet too) has them on his shoelaces (like a tag). I’m no fan of Florida either (my parents were there for awhile), but you gotta do what you gotta do. . . !

We went on vacation after Christmas. We packed a lunch box with ice pack, water bottle, snacks, insulin pens, all the needles we would need for the week. It was a BREEZE! I just told the person who was looking at the stuff on the video that my son was diabetic and all his medical supplies were in the lunchbox, and he said okay. Didn’t open the lunch box or anything. This happened in Raleigh and New Orleans. They didn’t even open the bag at either location. I’m sure it helped that it was all confined to one bag with nothing else but medical (included snacks) in it. We actually forgot to pack the meter strips but were able to pick some up at the drug store when we got there. You will be fine. One thing I do recommend is that you don’t keep everything together when you get where you are going. After we went through security, I took two insulin pens and put them in my purse. In fact as we were getting off the plane, the flight attendent said ‘did you forget something’, sure enough the lunch box was on the floor under the seat in front of where my son was sitting (who was in a different row than me and my husband). Luckily I had to pens in my purse so would have been able to swing it, but it wouldn’t have been fun.

We flew to Fl from Tx summer before last. We had our endo write a letter saying that we need all of the above supplies, alcohol wipes, insulin, syringes etc. We packed all our supplies in a backpack along with an Icepack bag. We put our insulin in a box with the rx label in the quart bag. We told them up front we had diabetes supplies in the bag and showed them the letter and we had no problems. We haven’t flown since the new security measures have been in place. I do recommend taking double the supplies that you’ll need. 2 meters, double insulin, strips, syringes, batteries, etc. . Go have fun in Fl. : )

I had gotten a pin for my 2 yr old (said I am a diabetic - my parents know what I can eat) but a 5 year old may balk at that. Also I have some disposable bracelets from mabels labels but I guess that does not change the sensory issue…