Care at NUH

Travelling with Type 1 Diabetes

2024/06/24

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Travelling offers an excellent opportunity to explore new places and cultures. Having Type 1 diabetes should not be a barrier to these experiences. Adequate preparation can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. 

TIPS BEFORE TRAVELLING
  • Inform your healthcare team about your travel plans at least one month in advance. This consultation is crucial for discussing diabetes management and necessary insulin adjustments. 
  • If your trip involves crossing time zones, it’s important to discuss with your healthcare team the timing of insulin injections and other medications. Pay particular attention to basal insulin doses. Missing doses can result in elevated blood glucose levels and potentially diabetic ketoacidosis. Conversely, administering basal insulin doses too soon might cause overlapping of insulin effects and hypoglycaemia 
  • Obtain a letter describing your medical condition, medications and essential equipment (e.g., needles, glucometers, glucose sensors) 
  • Ensure you receive all necessary vaccinations before travelling 
  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance 
  • Identify healthcare facilities or clinics near your accommodation for emergencies 
  • Prepare a travel kit 
PREPARING A TRAVEL KIT

Your travel kit should include: 

Insulin and medications supplies: 

  • Insulin pen or syringes 
  • Medications for common illnesses, such as diarrhoea and motion sickness 
  • Glucometer and extra batteries 
  • Glucometer test strips and lancets 
  • Ketone meter with test strips 
  • Quick-acting sugar for hypoglycaemia. (e.g., sweets or glucose tablets) 
  • Snacks (e.g., biscuits) for delays meal times 
  • Travel letter 
  • Prescription copy in case medications are lost 

Travel kit guidelines: 

  • Always carry your travel kit in your hand luggage. Do not check-in the travel kit, insulin, oral medication or consumables. 
  • Keep your travel kit accessible at all times. 
  • A prudent approach is to pack double the amount of medical supplies you typically need for your trip. 
HOW TO TRANSPORT INSULIN

Keep your insulin in an insulated bag or container. Use a cold gel pack in a separate pouch or compartment within the bag. If your cooler bag lacks a compartment, wrap a towel around the gel pack.  

In hot climates: Store insulin in a cool area, away from direct sunlight or hot vehicles. 

In cold climates: Protect your insulin from freezing temperatures. 

Upon arrival, store unopened insulin in a refrigerator, ensuring it does not freeze. 

STORING GLUCOSE TEST STRIPS WHEN TRAVELLING

​Store the strips at temperatures between 4°C to 30°C. Note that the strips may not function accurately at temperatures below 4°C or above 40°C . 

TRAVELLING WITH GLUCOSE SENSORS AND INSULIN PUMPS

​Pack sufficient consumables for your entire holiday. These devices can pass through airport metal detector, but do not expose your continuous glucose monitoring sensor (CGMS), flash glucose monitoring sensor, or insulin pump to X-ray scanners or full-body scanners. 

OTHER GENERAL TIPS WHILE TRAVELLING

Wear comfortable shoes to reduce foot discomfort 

Drink sufficient water to prevent dehydration 

Take necessary precautions to avoid traveller’s diarrhoea 

 

Seek medical attention if:  

  • You misplace your insulin and/or medications 
  • You experience symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.  
  • Your blood glucose levels are persistently below 4 mmol/L or above 14 mmol/L with elevated ketones 
  • You sustain an open wound 
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