Traveling with diabetes can be comfortable and safe as long as you plan carefully. Good planning includes talking to your health care provider and doing a little research before leaving, careful packing, and knowing about airport security.
Before leaving on your trip:
- Talk to your health care provider about your travel plans.
- If you're on insulin, ask about getting a prescription for a glucagon kit.
- Make sure your immunizations, your immunization record and your written health record are up to date, especially if traveling abroad.
- Take a copy of the immunization record and health report if needed.
- Make sure that all medications you carry and all diabetes supplies have their prescription labels on them. If you use a daily or weekly medication reminder pack, take the original prescription labels with you.
- Refill any prescriptions that may expire during your travel. Outside of the U.S., some medications, such as insulin, are sold in different strengths.
- Keep your health insurance card on you at all times. Review health insurance policy for travel information. Is your travel destination in your provider network? If not, learn what you have to do in order to have insurance coverage out of network.
- For insulin pump or continuous glucose monitoring sensor users, check the insulin pump manufacturer's website or call their customer service phone number for information about traveling.
If you're traveling by plane:
- Go to the Transportation Security Administration website and learn about any rules for traveling with diabetes supplies and equipment. Look for information about using a blood glucose meter, insulin pump or personal continuous glucose monitor on a plane.
- Check the Center for Disease Control website to see if you need immunizations for countries outside of the U.S.
- Bring enough supplies and medications to last longer than the length of your trip. You will need extras if you have travel delays or lose some supplies.
- Keep supplies, including insulin, in a carry-on bag. To prevent freezing, don't put your insulin in checked baggage. Bring food to help prevent low blood sugar in a case you miss a meal. Bring treatment for low blood sugar.
- Give yourself extra time in airports. Some security screeners don't know about insulin delivery mechanisms and blood glucose monitoring, so delays can happen.
- If you're wearing an insulin pump and you have diabetes supplies with you, tell the security staff that you have diabetes. If the screeners or other security staff questions you, ask to speak with a supervisor.
- Don't send your insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor through X-ray machines. Disconnect them if you go through an airport body scanner. You may request a pat-down screening if you don't want to remove or can't remove your device.
During the trip:
- Monitor your blood glucose more often than you usually do. If you're not sure how often, ask your health care provider before you travel.
- Stay as close to your usual schedule as much as possible. Check the time settings on your meter and pump. Change if needed.
- During travel and while at your location, don't leave insulin and temperature-sensitive supplies in a car or any place that could have temperature changes. Check with the manufacturer of your supplies for any specific warnings about temperature.
April 25, 2018
- Peggy Moreland (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 11, 2018.
- TSA travel tips: Travelers with diabetes or other medical conditions. Transportation Security Administration. https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2014/04/01/tsa-travel-tips-travelers-diabetes-or-other-medical-conditions. Accessed April 11, 2018.
- Travel smart: Get vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/features/vaccines-travel/index.html. Accessed April 11, 2018.