Travel

Diabetes and Travel

Holiday Checklist

If you are treated with Insulin

Long-haul flights and changing time zones

Eating and Drinking

Holiday Foot Care

If you are ill while on Holiday

Travel Insurance

For further advice

Diabetes Nurses Contact Numbers

Your Personal Travel Plan



Diabetes and Travel

Planning your journey or holiday before you go helps you to enjoy yourself and may avoid problems with your diabetes while you are away.

Before you go:

  • See your family doctor if you have any concerns about your current health and ability to travel.  Have any recommended vaccinations.  Ask your travel agent for advice.
  • Vaccinations are best given well in advance of travel, as they may upset your diabetes for a short time.  Ask your GP and Diabetes Team for advice.
  • Obtain medical certificate E111 from your post office, DSS Office or GP surgery.  This certificate allows you to access free medical attention in all EU countries.
  • Treatment over the E111 scheme may not be adequate to cover your diabetes.  It does not cover countries outside the EU.  It is therefore important that you get adequate travel insurance for your trip.
  • Inform your travel company and travel insurer that you have diabetes.  Ask if they recover loss or replacement of insulin.
  • Obtain some form of diabetes identity card or jewellery stating that you have diabetes.  Diabetes UK will supply a personalised ID card for £5 and leaflets written in the language of the country that you are travelling to.
  • If you are carrying syringes, needles or other equipment, you are advised to carry a letter, particularly if you are travelling by air.  This can be found on the Tayside Diabetes web site.

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Holiday Checklist

  • Take twice as much insulin or tablets and equipment with you as you think you will need.  Take ample dextrasol tablets, hypostop, or glucogon and ketostix with you.  Carry all of your tablets or insulin and diabetes equipment in your hand luggage with you.  If you are travelling with someone, give some of your medication to your travelling companion in case your own luggage becomes lost.
  • If you are travelling by air, never put your insulin into your suitcase.  Temperatures in the hold of an aircraft are very low and will cause insulin to freeze.
  • Carry a clearly written list of all your current medicine (or take a repeat prescription sheet).  In case you need more medication whilst you are away.
  • Make up a simple first-aid box, which should include:
            
            *   Suntan lotion
            *   Simple pain killers
            *   Anti-diarrhoea capsules
            *   Travel sickness pills
            *   Plasters
            *   Antiseptic solution

  • Take a good supply of food and drink with you for any delays.  It is best not to ask for a “diabetic meal” from the airline, as these often contain no carbohydrate.

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If you are treated with Insulin:

  • Find out what types and strengths of insulin are available in the country that you are travelling to in case of emergency.  In the UK, we use U100 insulin but this is not available everywhere.  You can obtain more information from Diabetes UK (contact number below).  Do not expose your insulin to very high or very low temperatures.  It should be kept out of direct sunlight and must be kept cool.
  • Take a cool bag with you or find some cool place to store your insulin when you arrive.
  • Don’t keep your insulin in a glove compartment or boot of a car.
    Remember that insulin may be absorbed faster in warmer climates, and you may therefore be more likely to have a hypo.  Regular blood tests are therefore important as you may need to reduce your dose of insulin.

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Long-haul flights and changing time zones

  • Prepare for a long journey well in advance by asking your Diabetes Specialist Nurse to help work out your insulin dose.
  • Try to be flexible and be prepared for flight delays.
  • If you are travelling with someone keep your watch at British time.  This will help you to work out how far you are from your usual eating time.
  • Further information is available from Diabetes UK (contact details below).

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Eating and Drinking

  • Carry sandwiches, biscuits or cereal bars to cover any unexpected delays in travel.  Remember to take this in your hand luggage and not to put this in the hold of a plane.
  • Take any sweeteners with you.
  • Airline meals may not contain sufficient carbohydrate.  It is better to ask for an “ordinary” meal rather than asking for a special “diabetic” meal, or to carry extra bread, a roll or fruit with you.
  • Do not drink alcohol on an empty stomach.  Remember that sugar-free drinks may not be available in all countries and it is worth taking some along with you.  In hot climates drink plenty of sugar-free fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Always check that the water is safe to drink.
  • Bring enough snacks and drinks to cover your holiday.

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Holiday Foot Care

Bring comfortable, well-fitting shoes in case your feet swell in hot weather:

  • On the beach, do not walk barefoot, especially on hot sand.
  • Watch out for sharp objects on the beach or while you are swimming.
  • Check your feet every morning and evening, looking for breaks in the skin.
  • If you develop a blister, cover this with a plaster and keep it clean.

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If you are ill while on Holiday

  • Never stop your insulin or tablets, even if you cannot take solid foods.
  • Before you travel, discuss managing sickness and diarrhoea with your diabetes care team.  As a precaution, only drink bottled water, avoid salads and be careful about the hygiene level of restaurants.
  • If you have sickness and/or diarrhoea and this persists, you should seek urgent medical advice.

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Travel Insurance

Diabetes UK has a travel insurance quote line on freephone 0800 7317431.  However, Diabetes UK policies cannot be guaranteed to be the cheapest in every case.

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For further advice:

Diabetes UK: tel: 0207 323 1531 can supply up-to-date guides to most countries in the world, including translations of phrases to use in an emergency.

Diabetes UK careline tel: 0207 424 1030 (is a confidential information service.)

Diabetes UK Scotland tel: 0141 332 2700

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Diabetes Nurses Contact Numbers

(during working day hours only Mon- Fri)
 
need contact numbers for diabetes nurses

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Your Personal Travel Plan


NAME

DIABETES CLINIC

USUAL INSULIN DOSE
 breakfast
 lunch
 dinner
 bedtime


DESTINATION


OUTWARD FLIGHT
 Insulin Time & Dose
 Insulin Time & Dose
 Insulin Time & Dose
 Insulin Time & Dose

RETURN FLIGHT
 Insulin Time & Dose
 Insulin Time & Dose
 Insulin Time & Dose
 Insulin Time & Dose

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Quick Links

Tayside Diabetes - Travel

Leicester Diabetes - Travel

Diabetes UK

Web Page Author:

Sr Mairi Buchan

(Diabetes Nurse Specialist - Victoria Infirmary Glasgow)

Last Revised:

July 2006