Packing for T1D Travel

Packing Tips for families traveling with the diabetes dragon

So you’ve done all your pre-travel preparation. Now thoughts turn to, “What do we need to BRING?!” Here are some packing tips, plus a suggested packing list of diabetes supplies (for injections, and for insulin pumps) to bring with you when you travel with the T1D dragon.

Travel can be stressful for anyone; travelling with a child 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.

General Packing Tips

  • Pack extra supplies of everything you use to monitor and treat diabetes: it is wise to take double the amount of certain supplies (ex. insulin, syringes, test strips, infusion sets…) than you would need at home for the same period of time. This reduces the risk of having to obtain supplies in an unfamiliar place.
  • It’s a good idea to pack an extra blood glucose monitor and batteries.
  • When you pack, either divide the diabetes supplies and medications in different bags (in case a bag is lost along the way) OR choose to carry on your person all of your diabetes supplies. Either way, pack in your carry-on bag ALL ESSENTIAL supplies, so that if the worst case scenario occurs and all of your checked baggage is lost, you still have enough supplies to cover your time away, or at least your first several days in your new locale, allowing you time to replace the lost supplies.
  • Do not pack insulin or blood glucose test strips in your checked luggage because they could lose their effectiveness if subjected to high or low temperature.
  • If your child wears an insulin pump, you still may choose to bring a supply of syringes and insulin in case of pump difficulties (temporary interruption which leads to a syringe correction, or full pump failure which leads to taking a pump vacation).
  • If your child takes only intermediate-acting insulin or a pre-mix, also pack short- or rapid-acting insulin in the event of sickness with high blood glucose and ketones.
  • A phrase book which includes how to ask for help in other languages may prove very useful in an emergency.

What to Pack:

In addition to the usual non-diabetes-related travel items, the following may serve as a starting point for identifying which diabetes supplies you may want to bring.

Suggested T1D Packing List: Injections

Suggested T1D Packing List: Insulin Pump

*Quantity to bring of each item

= (# typically used in a day) x (# of days away) x 2

Tip from the Trenches

It's wise to bring double the supplies that you would normally need, to make sure that you don’t run out of diabetes supplies away from home. It can be very difficult to get more supplies away from home, and may even be impossible if you are traveling outside of North America.

So, for example, if you use about 10 test strips each day at home, and you are travelling for 14 days, you would normally use 140 test strips during those two weeks at home. But away from home you may be testing more often, may be exposed more to heat that could ruin the strips, or may not have a way to get more if a full bottle of strips gets accidentally dumped into the lake. To cover the unexpected, it wouldn't hurt to bring twice the amount you would use at home, 280 test strips in this case.


  • 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.