Okay so here’s the deal. I love to travel. And because I have diabetes, I have kept my travel in the US. I would love to go to Europe and have the opportunity to do so but am really struggling on if it’s smart to do with diabetes. I’m a true advocate for us T1D doing everything and anything everyone else can, but the idea of something going wrong gives me major anxiety. Has anyone else traveled out of the country? If so, how did you prepare your supplies/create an emergency plan just in case?
@Tee25 Im from NJ. I’m in Ireland right now. I’ll have to go to Amsterdam, Austria, and England before the end of the year. If there’s anywhere else in the world where I DONT have anxiety is Europe.
I can’t say the same for every place I’ve been in China and India, but Europe is no issue at all. When I had to go to India, I was afraid of getting dysentery and severely dehydrated but it turned out ok.
I bring syringes for s pump disaster and that’s about it.
What exactly are you afraid of?
I think I’m scared of not being prepared enough. What if I don’t bring enough, what if I don’t have enough rest strips, what happens if my meter breaks, etc. Like the logical part in me knows that there are diabetics all over the world and that they too take insulin and use diabetes supplies. But I’m scared that if I have a bad low or a super high high that maybe medical care won’t be as good? Or that I’ll pay an extremely high amount for ending up in a clinic. It’s a silly fear in a way because I’ve always figured it out here when bad stuff happens but I’m just scared of bad stuff happening elsewhere.
Hi Taylor @Tee25, I am not a world traveler but I have had similar thoughts about “being prepared” when traveling throughout this country.
How long have you had diabetes? If you have had diabetes for a few years, I expect that you should be quite knowledgable in being your own physician - that you know almost instinctively how to bring down a high BGL and also how to overcome a “low”, even fairly severe hypoglycemic event. You will NOT be traveling on your own, so make certain that you companion knows what to do, and WILL DO what is necessary to get your BGL to come up. Make sure that you always have on your person some fast acting, measured carbohydrate - such as gel or tablets.
What you pack in supplies differs if you are traveling for a week or for six months. Even when traveling for a week, I always pack an extra box of BG Check strips [even though I use a CGM] and an extra vial of insulin; I also pack another meter that uses the same check-strips.
Best thing, plan ahead and don’t over worry - just be smart and ENJOY your adventure. Let me know if you are planning a really extend travel and I will try to find an excellent article on around-the-world traveling with diabetes which I helped edit a few years ago for Diabetes Forecast Magazine.
I think it’s natural to worry about an emergency overseas. I’ve been to Mexico, Honduras, South Africa, France and much of the Caribbean all with Type 1. If you are on a pump, the amazing thing is that it, along with CGM technology, it makes dealing with time zone changes really easy. Like others said, it’s important to pack more supplies than you need, just in case. I’m on a pump but I also take a sample of long acting with me just in case. Most pump companies will give you a loaner travel pump too. I also always purchase travel insurance that includes emergency medical evacuation. It is not expensive. If you are in a large group health plan (like BCBS) you likely have international benefits but that does not pay for evacuation if needed. You can go to the bluecard website to get the locations of hospitals in your network all over the world. Like you said, tons and tons of people all over the world have type 1 and they live and treat everyday in their home countries. Europe is a great place to start as (much of) it is so similar to the U.S., even with different healthcare systems. Doctors there will be up to date on treatment and you will be in good hands in the slim chance you have a problem. I really hope you will decide to go. Please keep us updated and let us know how it goes!
I’ve lived an traveled all over the world with T1D for 30+ years.
I even came to the US, and I survived.
WIth T1D, you need to deal with logistics – so… just do it.
Tandem has a spare pump program for when you travel.
Medtronic has offices all over the world.
And the rest is supply management and planning for the airline to lose your suitcase.
Getting a travel insurance can’t hurt. But honestly… it’s just logistics.
I have been to Germany, Grenada (2x), Mexico, Bermuda, and a handful of other international locations.
Plan ahead, be prepared, understand your location and the nearest place you can receive care if needed. Understand your insurance requirements and talk to your doctor ahead of time. Make sure you take paperwork from your doctor that explains the medical necessity of all your equipment and supplies.
I always take extras. I have a Libre so I take an extra sensor or two, just to be prepared. I always take my meter as backup and plenty of strips and supplies. I take a bottle of glucose tabs just to be prepared. I usually have nearby care facilities, hospitals, and U.S. Consulate contact information just to ensure I can locate and get a hold of them if was necessary.
Then relax, enjoy your trips, enjoy life. I did a lot of worrying, and then quickly realized that no matter where I am (unless the most remote locations have no medical facilities nearby) there is always a way to find help. You are your greatest asset and guide to understanding what you need to feel comfortable with your health. So fill those needs and the rest is easy.
I am a relatively new T1D, just since 9/2019. My wife and I have not travelled for about 2 years due to cancer issues, but we are ready now. We’re going back to Europe for a river cruise.
I know I will need to take at least double my usual diabetic medical supplies. Have a complete medicine list with me. We always include the travel insurance package to cover any health issues on travel to preclude the potential high costs.
We and you need to enjoy life.
I was so happy this morning to open this and see this post and everyone’s advice. I’m 56 years old and I was just diagnosed July 20. I had just retired six months prior to my diagnosis and was planning to take many trips out of the country. I’ve been too nervous to travel abroad since my diagnosis but have taken about nine round-trip domestic flights which all went well. I finally booked a trip at the end of June to Copenhagen but I’m extremely nervous. I’m not on the pump but I do have a Dexcom CGM. Thank you all for all the responses even though they weren’t for me, they’ve calmed my nerves a lot!
In 1983 when I was 25, and 12 years as T1, I traveled around Europe and England with a backpack full of syringes and insulin bottles, and spent four weeks wandering around without much trouble. I didn’t really have an emergency plan, and back in those days I was pretty much “one shot in the morning, one in the evening, and if I feel alright, I’m good to go”–I wasn’t even doing urine testing in those days, so I had no idea about my BG, other than feeling kind of crappy if I was real high, and shakey when I was real low. I stayed in youth hostels, which tended to have reasonable food available (Alpen packets became my go-to carbohydrate). I did have a medic alert necklace, but that was pretty much the extent of my planning. I figured that if I needed a doctor, I could find one.
I was young and stupid and (apparently) lucky. The only bad thing was getting squared away after I fell asleep for about 24 hours on arrival due to the Eastward plane trip. FWIW, in those days I was on a mix of Regular and NPH.
I travel to Europe frequently. One thing I have not seen in the replies to your question is to make sure you pack all your supplies in your hand luggage. I flew to London and Boston for 4.5 weeks in summer 2017, and I packed 50% extra supplies for my pump, my CGM, my insulin and my test strips. (I have read recommendations to pack double your normal supplies.) These supplies plus a book to read and some glucose and hard candy took up my entire backpack, which is my hand luggage. But I had everything I needed. And I did also take a free loaner pump as a spare in case of pump failure. The loaner has to be returned unopened as soon as you return, unless you have phoned the manufacturer about your pump failing while you were abroad, and they authorize you to use the spare pump.
I have had diabetes for 46 years and have traveled extensively in The US, Europe, and South America. (In fact I am just back from a river cruise in Portugal). Like ksannie, I carry all supplies in my carry on luggage and take more supplies then I need. Initially, I traveled with insulin and syringes, next came glucose meters added to the mix, then the pump, and now my CGM plus all of the above. If you use a pump it is especially important to take syringes as well. I, too, bring snacks because it is never easy to find them in the middle of the night. Now that my 3 children are raised, I travel with my husband who couldn’t take my BG or give glucagon if HIS life depended on it! Living with diabetes is stressful and can certainly cause all of us to have fears. Try not to worry and enjoy any opportunity to travel that comes your way!
Thank you everyone so much for your advice! This is definitely extremely helpful and has eased my fears quite a bit.
Preparing ahead of time will take you a long way. I spent a week in Ubud, Bali by myself. I wore a fanny pack carrying my diabetic supplies evrywhere i went! Definitely over packed on snacks and familiarized myself with the local stores in the event that i needed more. I brought a couple 1.5 L water bottles in my checked back. And also bought water on arrival. Dont forget alcohol wipes. Do your research before leaving! I was careful to only brush my teeth with bottled water and ate only fish as it was probably the freshest meat available. Be prepared, be responsible, and be confident and you will be just fine!
This is an excellent point. To this day, when I travel I divide my diabetes supplies so that I have at least a week’s worth of supplies in my carry-on. This is true whether it’s Europe or Florida.
We have been traveling back and fort to Europe frequently since 1985, and we have often had baggage go missing, sometimes for up to 5 days. A friend of ours traveled to France for a wedding, and had to attend the wedding in street clothes, since their suitcases never arrived. I would never pack any diabetes supplies in a suitcase for that reason.
I put some stuff in each place because (1) the suitcase could vanish, or (2) the carry-on could vanish. Keeping at least a week’s worth in each place means that I’ll have time to get supplies from somewhere if the worst happens.