More tips for managing diabetes while traveling around the world from Cazzy Magennis, of Dream Big Travel Far!
More and more type 1 diabetics are choosing to use insulin pumps, which of course is brilliant! Since I use an insulin pump myself, I thought I would produce a little guide on traveling with insulin pumps, and why insulin pumps are perfect for traveling with type 1 diabetes. While there are some “problems” associated with traveling with an insulin pump, there are also significant benefits!
Here are the pros and cons of traveling with an insulin pump!
I won’t lie to you, using an insulin pump while traveling does mean you have to carry more supplies than you would if you used pens. However, it’s worth sacrificing a few extra pieces of clothing (which you don’t need- trust me!), for better control!
Plus, there are ways to make space for your extra supplies. I split half my supplies with my travel partner (Bradley, my boyfriend) and then I put infusion sets in socks. You can typically stuff around 2 or 3 per sock.
I also put all my test strips together in little bags which doesn’t take up much space.
Did you know you can reuse reservoirs? Well, in South America, I didn’t bring enough with me (whoops), so I quickly learned that I could reuse them.
So instead of bringing too many, just bring enough and reuse when you need more. Last but not least, don’t worry about airlines charging you for the extra pump supplies.
Ninety percent of airlines will allow you to bring on an extra small bag for medical supplies, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Higher altitudes have the potential to affect the workings of your insulin pump. This is true when you are flying and when you are climbing mountains.
It’s also true if you are just generally in higher places, such as Bolivia.
However, this isn’t a reason not to bring an insulin pump. I’ve never experienced any issues with my insulin pump and travel, so just because it can happen, doesn’t mean it will happen.
Changing time zones are often used as a reason not to bring an insulin pump, but actually, it should be a reason to use an insulin pump when traveling with type 1 diabetes.
Time zone changes mean that your insulin requirements will change, but with an insulin pump, all you need to do is reset the times of the pump to the time you are in and adjust as necessary. You will often find you don’t have to make significant adjustments and it’s a lot easier than trying to work everything out with an insulin pen.
Read more about crossing time zones here.
Benefits of Traveling with an Insulin Pump
You Can Be Spontaneous: I am a spontaneous person, and most people who travel tend to be so too! Thankfully an insulin pump allows you to be that person without hesitation.
You can hike mountains, camp in the Amazon, swim in beautiful oceans or road trip Europe and your trusty insulin pump will be there to ensure you are ready to tackle every adventure.
This is because, with a pump, it’s easier to make adjustments and see patterns with your blood sugars. You also have the chance to set temporary basal rates and use extended bolus and fancy other pump adjustments to allow your blood sugars to stay intact whilst you take on your travel dream.
You Can Eat Anything: One of the best things about traveling, (well, for me at least!) is all the amazing foods I get to eat. I’ve spoken before about counting carbohydrates abroad and how that’s useful for trying new foods.
But your insulin pump is the thing that makes that possible. You can also make use of the extended bolus and wave bolus for slow release carbs such as pasta and pizza, so you never have to miss out!
You Feel Free: Yes, the irony of feeling free when you have something attached to you is there. But, it’s true. An insulin pump gives you a sense of freedom because you don’t have to be constantly worried about your diabetes.
You can easily see what’s happening and make adjustments, so you can enjoy the moment and worry less about your diabetes. I always thought I’d never be able to “forget” about diabetes when I had an insulin pump on, but trust me one can (sometimes I forget so much that I forget to bolus for breakfast….whoops)!
Plus it’s easy to hide your insulin pump, so never worry about people being able to see it. Even when I had a bikini on, I can hide it in high waisted bottoms.
Anyone who does see your insulin pump is just intrigued, and that’s a good thing because it gives you the chance to spread awareness about type 1 diabetes. Therefore reminding people that it’s nothing to do with eating too much sugar!
You Can Integrate it With Other Technology: An insulin pump works perfectly with a CGM (continuous glucose monitor). I am on the Medtronic 630, and there are Medtronic sensors that work alongside that.
They can predict when you are going low and stop the insulin from going in. That is smart technology!
Of course, you can use CGM’s standalone with insulin pens, but if you are using one alongside an insulin pump, it’s like you’ve got a full package of an artificial pancreas on your adventures with you. Remember, being partly robot is super cool and unique- trust me!
Comment below if you’re on an insulin pump, or you’ve ever taken one on your travels. Remember my amazing blonde abroad readers get 30% off my eBook to help you travel the world with diabetes. Just use code BLONDE30.