Tips for travelling with medicine safely

When it comes to your diabetes medications and injection supplies, "traveling light" can lead to heavy regret. If you rely on these items to keep your diabetes under control while you're at home, you're also going to need them while you're on the road.

Tips for travelling with medicine safely

Pack extra medication

  • Pack at least three days' more than you anticipate. This way, you'll be covered in the event of car trouble or airport delays.
  • If you're embarking on a long trip and want to bring more than a few days' supply of extra meds, ask your doctor if he can prescribe more than the typical one-month supply so you'll have enough extra to bring.

Carry hypoglycemia insurance

  • If your doctor has recommended that you keep glucagon handy to treat emergency episodes of low blood sugar, be sure to bring it on your trip.
  • Make sure your travelling companion knows how to administer it. If you are coherent enough to give yourself a shot of glucagon, you can probably treat the hypoglycemia by eating or drinking carbohydrates.

Prime your travel partner

  • Show your companion where you keep your diabetes medications.  Your partner can fetch them for you if you're unable to do so. You should also teach them about the signs of hypoglycemia, which can occur without warning.
  • These symptoms include confusion, dizziness, sweating and shaking. Instruct your companion to bring you a regular soda, hard candy or a small bottle of fruit juice to get your blood sugar back up quickly.

Prepare for new time zones

  • Consult a map that's marked with time zones and count the number of zones you'll be crossing to get to your destination.
  • If you're heading west, your day will be longer and you may need more insulin injections. If you're flying east, your day will be shorter and you may need fewer.
  • If you're confused about how to adapt your injection schedule during your flight, discuss this with your doctor.

Carrying medication

  • Carry medication and equipment in its original packaging. Bring the manufacturer's labels with your insulin and any supplies you use.
  • You may have trouble getting past the airport security if you don't have properly labelled packages. If carrying these items in their original boxes takes up too much space in your bag, pack the items outside of their boxes, flatten the boxes and pack them flat in your carryon baggage.
  • You can take them out if a security checker gets curious.

Speak up before the pat down

  • Tell the screeners at airport security gate that you're carrying diabetes supplies, and carry the accompanying label information in hand along with your boarding pass; being ready will get you through the checkpoint without incident.
  • If you use an insulin pump, ask that they visually inspect it.

Protect yourself and others

  • Tuck a "sharps" container designed for travelling into a carry-on bag so you can stash your used needles and lancets until you get home and can dispose of them safely.
  • Small containers with puncture-proof walls and tightly fitting lids are available from drugstores.

Guard insulin from heat/cold

  • Temperature extremes can affect how well the insulin works. If you're walking or biking on a hot day, for example, put your insulin vial in an insulated tote bag to keep it cool.
  • When travelling in the car, keep your insulin off the dashboard and out of the glove box.
  • If you're cross-country skiing or hiking in the cold, keep the insulin in a pocket next to your body.
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