9 Travel Tips: On the Road with Diabetes

People with diabetes need more than just an extra set of clothes and a toothbrush to enjoy a late summer family reunion or fall festival. Here’s how to have a great time—and manage your glucose levels.

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Pharmacist Marc Wolf, founder of Diabetic Care Services, and Jodie Luidhardt, a licensed and registered dietitian at Kent State University, offer the following travel and nutrition advice to help manage glucose levels on the go.

1. Protect your supplies. Pack glucose meters, test strips, and insulin in a dark protective carrying case with a gel cooling pack. Always bring an extra set of supplies in a separate case. When flying, keep supplies and medicines in your carry-on luggage.

2. Bring premeasured snacks from home to help you manage unusual meal times and menus. Special travel bars for diabetics are also available. Two popular brands are Glucerna and Extend.

3. Closely monitor your glucose level. When crossing time zones, carry a second watch set to the time at home for a few days until you adjust to the new schedule. Consider more frequent testing, as travel inevitably disrupts daily routines.

4. Plan ahead for insulin injections in flight: Contact your insulin manufacturer for any special instructions to accommodate the plane’s cabin pressure.

5. Pack for walking. To avoid foot soreness and blisters, change socks often and wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes. Bring an extra pair of shoes. Consider purchasing socks for diabetics that are designed to keep feet cool and dry.

6. Carry or wear medical identification that indicates you have diabetes.

7. Take your pick at the buffet table. Opt for colorful vegetables, whole grains, chicken, and fish. Veggie burgers and edamame beans are nutritious choices, too. Select fresh fruit or use a small plate for desserts.

8. Stay hydrated by drinking water or unsweetened iced tea. Or fill a thermos with lemonade made with water, fresh squeezed lemons, and mint. Dehydration may lead to false high glucose readings.

9. Limit diet soda consumption to one serving per day. Drink alcohol only with a meal and no more than one serving per day for women; two for men.

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