|My Animas Ping insulin pump and site|
6 weeks until I leave for Germany! This means that I am very busy planning. Most girls would probably be taking this time to figure out how to pack enough clothes for all four seasons in one 50 pound suitcase, but as a type 1 diabetic, I am busy sorting all of my medication. Traveling with diabetes, especially internationally, can be scary. As a type 1 diabetic that has spent a lot of time out of the country, I should know. If you are about to study abroad with diabetes, go on a vacation out of the country, or (if you’re crazy like me) move to foreign country, here are my tips for traveling with diabetes.
- Take extra medication
I get all of my medicine mail ordered. That means that I get 3 months of medicine at a time. Luckily, I use a little bit less than my prescribed amount of insulin and test strips per month, so by the end of 3 months, I always have some left over. So before I take a big trip, I try to make sure that I will get another delivery of 3 months worth of medicine prior to leaving. This way, I have over 3 months of medication to take with me on the trip. The last time I went to Germany, I was there for 2 months. I brought about 5 months worth of stuff.
- Have your medicine in your carry-on
Bring all of your medicine in your carry on luggage. Last time I flew internationally, I had a giant backpack with 5 vials of insulin, 4 bags of syringes, 5 boxes of insulin pump insets, bags of extra lancets — you get the idea. Never be worried about bringing insulin or syringes on board. These are allowed, and I have never been questioned about these things.
When going through security, always keep your pump on. If you are going to be put through a full body scanner, let them know that you are wearing an insulin pump, and opt for a pat down if possible. I always get groped rather than scanned. It may sound uncomfortable, but it’s really okay. You’ll typically go in a cubicle with a lovely female officer, and she’ll feel her way around over your clothes. No biggie. They may ask to see your site. Luckily my site is typically on my stomach, so I can show it to them easily. I have talked a little bit more about going through security with an insulin pump and flying with diabetes in a past blog post. So go check that out if you are worried about this process.
- Get extra pump supplies
For those of you with an insulin pump, you can get an advance on your pump supplies. Every time I have traveled, I always call Animas and ask for a few months of extra supplies. They will ask for the reason, noting it in their system, but it’s never been an issue for me. You may think that you don’t need an extra month or two of pump supplies, but if you are out swimming, sweating, moving, and shaking, you know how those suckers can just fall off. Also, when I am under stress, I tend to have a lot of misfires, ruining multiple insets.
- Check your health insurance benefits
I did this recently for the first time. Stupid me has traveled internationally in the past with no idea about whether I was covered in foreign countries or what I would do if I ran out of medicine, got sick, or worse. Smart me has called my insurance company this time. Luckily I do have coverage abroad, and there is even a nifty online database for me to find doctors that are guaranteed to be covered by my insurance. Even if you are just traveling for a week abroad, be sure to check your health coverage.
Are you a traveler with diabetes? Feel free to ask questions or tell me about your experiences in the comments!