Health advice for diabetics when traveling

While diabetes – be it type 1 or type 2 – is a serious condition that must be treated with respect, there is no reason why it should interfere too much with travel plans.  Travelers with diabetes probably need to plan ahead more carefully than most, but in the vast majority of cases they can go virtually anywhere, and see virtually anything, that their travelling ambitions suggest.

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Having decided on a destination(s) a traveler with diabetes should begin their planning by finding out whether crossing time zones will be involved; what types of food are likely to be available in each place (and the times at which they are likely to eat), and the expected level of activity (more or less than usual?) All of these factors can affect a medication regime.


To ensure that the traveler has effective control of their diabetes a pre-travel medical check is also a good idea.  Any immunization shots can also be administered at this time, since diabetic travelers may need more time to recover if those shots make them unwell.  The doctor should supply a prescription for the patient’s usual medication and a letter explaining what type of diabetes this patient has, and the means by which they control it, for example, by using pills or injecting insulin.  The letter should also explain whether the patient has any allergies.


An individual that has diabetes, of either type, should pack their medication and monitoring equipment in their hand luggage and keep it with them at all times – on the aircraft and throughout the trip.  On no account should medication or blood monitoring kits be placed in aircraft hold luggage – the danger of it going missing, or being damaged by extremes of temperature in the hold, is too great.


The general rule is to take at least twice as much medication and blood testing equipment as is likely to be needed, so it is important to be organized and get hold of all of these items well before departure.  Many such items can now be conveniently ordered on the Internet, for example patients can buy Januvia online.  The doctor’s prescription referred to above should be taken in addition to these medications, in case of need: it may be helpful to check out prescription laws in the destination country or countries, too, as these can vary.


Travelers should also keep travel insurance documents on their person at all times, and remember to declare their diabetes to the policy provider.  A list of English-speaking doctors overseas can be obtained from the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT). Contact details can be found at


Any person that has diabetes should always wear a medical ID, for example a bracelet or necklace, at all times, however, this is particularly important when travelling, especially for those who inject insulin.  It is also a good idea to carry food (in case of none being available when needed) and to remember never to go barefoot, but to check the feet regularly and seek medical attention immediately if infection or inflammation appears.