Diabetes and Travelling

People with diabetes can enjoy travelling just as much as anyone else. You can usually do all the things that you want to do when travelling with a little extra planning. How you prepare depends on where you’re going and for how long. If you are travelling from Kuwait, two weeks of vacation spent in a resort in Egypt for example is different than a couple days spent in Dubai.

Remember to consider the following:

  • Inform your travel agent that you have diabetes. A suitable itinerary could be planned to meet your needs.
  • Visit your doctor for a check-up several weeks before you leave and try to work out plans for your food and medication, especially if you are travelling to a country in a different time zone and therefore experiencing a time change. You may for example need to change your insulin dose and time of administration. It is also handy to have your healthcare team phone/fax numbers during travelling.
  • Get immunization and vaccination shots (if you need them) at least one month before you leave. If the shots make you unwell, you’ll have time to recover before your trip.
  • Ask your doctor to write you a letter that states that you have diabetes, any current medications and doses, and any other medical conditions or allergies that you may have.
  • If you take Sulphonylurea tablets or insulin for your treatment make sure you carry a source of simple carbohydrate (quick sugar source) on you such as orange juice, glucose tablets, jelly beans, or hard candy.
  • It is important for you to be clear about how to manage your condition if you get sick and if you have low blood sugar levels.
  • If you are taking insulin it does not need to be refrigerated after you start using it, but if it is stored in very hot or very cold temperatures it may lose its strength. Make sure you take an insulated travel pack with you to keep your insulin cool at all times.
  • Avoid using local needles unless you are confident they are sterile.
  • Try your best to test your blood sugar levels more frequently than usual. Your routine of physical activity and food intake will be different when you travel.
  • Keep a daily record of insulin doses and test results.
  • Remember to stop taking Metformin (Glucophage) if you develop severe vomiting or diarrhea. You can start back on it when you are well again. Be sure to inform your doctor if this occurs.
  • Always pack all of your diabetes supplies in your carry-on bag to ensure that they are with you at all times and that they don’t get lost or exposed to high or low temperatures during travel.
  • Take a personal diabetes bag with you and make sure it contains the following:
    • Your diabetes medication and any other medications you take.
    • Blood testing supplies (include extra batteries for your glucose meter).
    • A diabetes identity card or letter stating your name and the fact you have diabetes.
    • A supply of suitable food and quick sugar sources to treat low blood glucose levels if you take insulin or sulphonylurea tablets.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and never go barefoot. Check your feet every day. Look for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling, and scratches. Get medical care at the first sign of infection or inflammation on your feet.
  • For more information on Diabetes and Travelling, call Dasman Diabetes Resource Hub Team (DDRH) on 222 60006 and ask our HealthCare Advisors.

Travel pharmacy:

  • Glucagon
  • Fever suppressing medications (e.g. Paracetamol/acetaminophen)
  • Oral rehydration solution or tablets.
  • disposable gloves
  • Face masks

“Remember that you take your diabetes with you wherever you go. Being prepared will help you enjoy your time away from home”