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Diabetes and travel

Having diabetes should not stop you travelling. You just have to prepare to avoid any problems.

Before you travel

Before you travel overseas you need to :

  • make sure your travel insurance covers health problems related to your diabetes
  • get your free European Health Insurance Card if travelling in the EU or Switzerland for state funded healthcare.
  • find out where you can get insulin in the place you're travelling to and bring a copy of your prescription
  • speak to your care team for advice about adjusting to different time zones before you go
  • get a letter from your GP if you're flying, to say you have diabetes and need to take your treatment on to the plane
  • check with your airline before you travel about taking a pump or GCM on board – some airlines require paperwork for medical equipment
  • make sure you know where you can get supplies for your pump in the places where you are visiting if you are going to be away for a long time

Packing for your trip

When you're packing:

  • pack 3 times as much insulin, test strips, lancets, needles and glucose tablets as you'd expect to need
  • if you use a pump, pack insulin pens in case it stops working
  • put insulin in your hand luggage – the hold of the plane will be too cold and could damage the insulin
  • take a cool bag to stop your insulin getting too hot
  • take plenty of snacks in case there are any delays
  • do not put your pump through the hand luggage scanner – let airport security know so they can check it another way

While you're away

When you're away from home:

  • be prepared to test more while you're away – hot and cold weather can affect your blood glucose levels and increase your risk of a hypo (low blood glucose level) or hyper (high blood glucose level)
  • you may have to change your insulin dose depending on the temperature and different activities you're doing – speak to your diabetes team

page last reviewed: 27/11/2020
next review due: 27/11/2023

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