A question recently came up on a Type 1 Moms group site that I follow. “I haven’t traveled in 6 years, what do I need to know about traveling as a diabetic?”
It peaked my interest because I regularly travel for work. I research locations for new hotel developments and about once a month or so I find myself waving to my little ones in the window as I drive to the airport. It’s still so very hard to leave them but I remind myself that my job allows me to stay home with them 99% of the time and my husband is a champ at holding down the fort.
Traveling can be a headache if you’re not prepared but, knowing what to expect makes it go smoothly, not quickly…just smoothly.
First of all as any diabetic or family of a diabetic can tell you we put the Boy Scouts to shame when it comes to “always be prepared”. Diabetics pack more than could possibly be needed for the time they are leaving. Here’s a pic of the supplies and extra supplies that come with me even on just a one night trip.
Security: I wear an insulin pump and a wirelessly connected glucose sensor. According to the manufacturer these devices should not go through the spinning full body scanner for fear that it may impair the connection between the two devices (actually, I’m just assuming this is the potential problem). Regardless, traveling miles from home on a tight schedule is the absolute last place that I need problems with the little machine that keeps me alive so, I don’t care what the reason is, I opt for the pat down.
The pat down is not as bad as everyone says it is. Just makes sure you have enough time as there are never enough female agents and you will be forced to wait until one can come help you. If you keep a smile on your face this pat down tends to go more quickly.
During one pat down an agent shared a tip that also helps speed things up. Put all your supplies (sensors, test strips, syringes, etc.) into a clear plastic bag and have it hand checked. Also put any snacks you have into this bag. Do not put this on the x-ray belt. Instead, hand it to the agent by the belt and ask for a hand check. This will save you time as these items will likely trigger a hand check of the back pack or suit case they are packed in and instead of checking the entire large bag and all its contents individually, they can just check the items they are actually interested in.
Food: Pack your own food! Airport food is always overpriced and low carb options are always hard to find. I always carry a soft sided cooler with an ice pack (the ones they send with your mail order insulin are perfect. in case you have to throw them out you’re not too heartbroken about it). As long as the ice pack is frozen solid they will not take it from you. I pack my own food or pick something up on my way into the airport.
Hotels: When stay in a hotel alone there are the normal fears of a crazy person following you into your room (likely with a chainsaw) but there my greater, and more realistic, fear is that my sugar will go low in the middle of the night and the housekeeper will find me. This fear has drastically decreased thanks to my continuous glucose monitor which now alarms when my sugars start to drop. Prior to this little technology I would set alarms and wake up to check at least once overnight. Another diabetic once told me she drinks a huge glass of water before bed to ensure that she will wake up to go to the bathroom. She also told me that she texts “alive” each morning to her husband when traveling just to, well, make sure she is.
So just a few extra joys for traveling, and when traveling with your kids these are just added bonuses to the joys of traveling with kids.