A big welcome to The Blonde Abroad’s new Type 1 Diabetes Travel Expert:
I’m Cazzy Magennis, a travel writer whose goal is to inspire, motivate and reassure fellow diabetics that despite the hard times, and the down days, we can still achieve everything we want to in life– including travelling to anywhere in the world. I’ve partnered with The Blonde Abroad to bring you the best tips and guides for managing diabetes while travelling around the world! If you aren’t diabetic but are curious as to what it is and would like to learn more, then read more here.
So, you have type 1 diabetes, it’s stressful and but you don’t want it to hold you back… then don’t! Traveling and exploring the world is a beautiful thing, and nothing should stop you; with careful planning and consideration you too can explore everywhere you want to.
This is what I did, I don’t let diabetes slow me down, I work hard, and I travel, not without issues, but that’s all part of life.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to get you traveling with Type 1 diabetes!
How is Your Control?
Unfortunately, if your control is bad and you are constantly in hospital, or in severe hypos, then I definitely would not recommend traveling just yet! Try and get yourself in better control by discussing options with your Diabetic specialist nurse or doctor, get yourself in better health as to minimize any complications when you are away.
However, if you are having the usual random highs and lows with type one diabetes… then that’s nothing to stop you– I am not perfect, but I travel fine. You know yourself!
Remember your health is the most important thing… if you don’t have it, you can’t explore!
Get Advice… and then More Advice
Before you go on an adventure, let your diabetic team know you are heading away– they can give you advice on the type of climate & destination you are going to.
Talk to your diabuddies, talk to your parents or partner, gather all the information you can, and ask all the questions you are curious about– no matter how silly you think they are.
You never know, my doctor was able to give me a nifty kit for looking after my feet, for free! Bonus!
Secure a Doctor’s Letter
Ask your medical provider to provide you with a letter stating you need to keep your insulin supplies on you at all times– this will actually allow you to bring an extra liquids bag for your medication on a flight, rather than having to decide on makeup or aftershave!
Doctor’s letters are useful for security concerns at various venues around the world, as well as bus travel across countries. You never know if you’ll have military guards search your luggage!
Helpful Tip: I would highly recommend translating your doctor’s letter into the language of the country you are going too– and bring electronic and paper copies.
Research Diabetes Care in Your Destination
Make sure to research the diabetic care offered where you are going, and check whether you will have access to supplies, emergency insulin & the costs in case of emergency.
You can actually contact your insulin company directly and they will be able to tell you if they stock in a certain country! It gives you peace of mind in an emergency.
Helpful Tip: If you are a European citizen, you are able to get a free EHIC health card which will give you access to extra insulin quickly and free of cost in an emergency.
Make sure you have all the usual checkups in place before you take a trip. Eyes, feet, diabetic clinics, blood checks, HBA1C… the works.
This is particularly important with long duration trips– with diabetes, you’ll want to pick up on any complications quickly so you can minimize issues. If you are on a year-long trip, then it’s important you know everything is well before you leave & if you ever feel like something is wrong on your trip, there is no harm in getting it checked out.
Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover you- I would shop around on price comparison sites for the best deal, but I will warn you, it’s going to be more expensive than your non-diabetic friend!
It doesn’t matter if you are heading to a different state or a different country, you’ll need to overestimate your diabetes supplies!
I always order three times as much as needed, and while that may seem a little excessive, I like to make sure I’m prepared should travel delays, theft, or natural disasters come up.
Of course, this will differ depending on your personal situation of insurance and access to supplies. But, anything can happen, so be prepared.
Along with supplies, bring a spare monitor too– you can order these free online with a quick Google search.
Helpful Tip: Make sure you split your supplies between two bags, or with the person you are travelling with. I always have my boyfriend carry a spare pump & supplies!
Embrace Your Diabetes
Some people are shy and unsure about telling people they have diabetes, but honestly, people are curious and I’ve found that most people love to find out more– it’s up to us to spread awareness and the truth about type 1– so let all you’re traveling friends know!
I like to travel with another person, because I like the company, and I like the support of having someone there with diabetes gets tough. I recommended on your first trip taking a companion before going solo!
It is also important that when you travel you let people know of your diabetes and what to do in an emergency, so carry some medical ID & perhaps a medical notification on your phone screen. You can order free medical cards online to carry in your wallet or purse!
I own a beautiful Medical ID bracelet that is handmade- it doesn’t feel like a medical ID and just a beautiful piece of jewelry, which works for me! You can find out more about medical ID’s here.
If you feel comfortable with all these point, you are on the road to start travelling with type one diabetes, and staying healthy!