Managing T1D During Travel

Along the Way: tips for families traveling with the diabetes dragon

Travel can be stressful for anyone; travelling with diabetes can add additional worry. But with a little advance planning and prep, you can prevent common pitfalls and have a great, stress-free time away from home. Here are a few tips to reduce diabetes-related hassles (especially BG high and lows) during travel to your destination:

Frequent BG Checks

  • Do not assume that blood glucose patterns during travel will follow the same trends as they do at home. Heat, excitement, change in time zones, and change in activity levels (sitting for longer periods in a car or plane, or walking long distances through airports, for example) can all significantly affect blood glucose levels. The more often you check, the more easily you’ll be able to anticipate and avoid problems.

Prepare for Lows

  • Carry a low blood glucose treatment with you at all times (candy, glucose tablets, juice, regular pop, for example).
  • It’s also wise to carry snacks (such as granola bars, crackers and cookies) with you at all times to avoid low blood glucose. This is particularly important for air travel, as flights may be delayed or you may miss a meal when rushing for a flight. You don’t want to be stuck on a plane with no access to necessary snacks.

Crossing Time Zones

  • When travelling east, your travel day is shorter; when travelling west, your travel day is longer. Be sure to take this into account in terms of insulin delivery. You may need to adjust the time or amount of your insulin dose. Consult your child’s diabetes health care team for advice on insulin adjustment, especially if traveling across more than three times zones.
  • It is recommended to leave your watch (and pump, if applicable) on “home” time until you arrive at your destination, so that meal and snack times are not disrupted. Consult your child’s diabetes health care team if you are unsure when to change to the new time zone.
  • If your child wears an insulin pump, remember to change the time on the pump when you arrive at your destination (or along the way if crossing time zones very slowly by car, bus or train).

Tip from the Trenches

This one bit me after a long car trip – forgot to change the pump time once we got home and it made things wonky for a few days until I caught on.

~Mom of an 11-year old with diabetes

The above information was significantly modified with permission from The Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic information handouts.

The above information was reviewed for content accuracy by clinical staff of the Alberta Children’s Hospital Diabetes Clinic.