For the 50+ Traveler

If you have diabetes, don't let it deter you from traveling! While traveling with diabetes naturally requires more preparation, it is certainly feasible with the simple steps listed below.

From getting a translated doctor's note to purchasing travel insurance, we've detailed some important measures to consider before traveling with diabetes. Follow these steps for a more enjoyable trip, and you'll be glad you didn't let your pancreas get in the way of experiencing the beauty of travel!

1. Get a doctor's note (and translate it, too)

Traveling with diabetes can be a hassle, especially when going through airport security. To avoid this nuisance, visit your doctor before heading out on your trip and have them write you a doctor's note explaining the details of your condition to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Carrying insulin, syringes, test strips, and other supplies necessary to treat diabetes may raise some eyebrows when trying to pass through airport security. Having a signed doctor's note will invariably decrease the amount of time you spend at security trying to explain why you have said questionable medical supplies.

If you're traveling to a country where people speak a foreign language, make sure you get the doctor's note translated into that language. Being able to simply show a note to anyone questioning your diabetes supplies will make for a smoother and more carefree trip.

2. The more the merrier

Make sure to pack an abundance of supplies for your trip. Even if you're visiting a big city, don't assume that you'll be able to get any extra supplies you weren't prepared for during your travels.

Make sure to have extra insulin, test strips, a blood glucose meter, syringes, and backup infusion sets. This is especially important when traveling abroad.

Though most countries should have the necessary supplies you might need to treat your diabetes, having to visit a doctor in a foreign country is not something you'll want to do on your vacation, especially if you're visiting a country where you don't speak the language. Be safe and prepared by always carrying an extra stock of any vital supplies you may need.

3. Test your blood sugar

Traveling will inevitably cause changes in your schedule and routine, an occurrence that can possibly result in a change in blood sugar levels that can disrupt diabetes management.

Sitting on a plane for several hours with minimal activity can cause elevated blood sugar levels. On the other hand, sightseeing, going on a hike, swimming in the ocean, or other increases in physical activity while traveling can cause lower glucose levels.

In order to manage your glucose levels while traveling, be sure to consistently check your blood sugar levels with a finger prick or meter, even at times when you normally wouldn't at home.

Jar of sugar and diabetes blood sugar tester

4. Pack a carry-on

Another imperative aspect to consider when traveling with diabetes is having all of your supplies immediately available to you in your carry-on bag.

Though it may be bothersome and heavy to have all of your supplies with you, you'll be thankful when your checked luggage gets lost and you decided to put your important supplies in your carry-on instead.

Not only does putting your diabetes supplies on your carry-on reduce the risk of being without your medication in case of lost checked luggage, but the cargo of a plane can get quite chilly when soaring 30,000 feet in the air, an unfavorable temperature for insulin. Freezing temperatures will break down insulin, making it unusable for lowering blood sugar levels.

5. Purchase travel insurance

Though we hope you don't encounter any medical emergencies related to your diabetes while traveling, it wouldn't be a bad idea to purchase travel insurance in case of the need to make a trip to the doctor during your trip.

Without travel insurance, visiting the doctor in a foreign country could include steep medical costs in case of evacuation, which can run you more than $100,000.

WorldClinic offers travel insurance with perks, providing instant physician contact and the latest longevity science to individuals, families, advisors, and companies. rated Travelex the best medical travel insurance for families, while Allianz was voted the best insurance for frequent travelers with affordable plans starting as low as $17.

6. Plan for meals accordingly

Airlines have been historically notorious for offering unhealthy meals during long flights, but nowadays, more and more airlines are beginning to offer the option of requesting either vegetarian, heart-healthy, or low-sodium meals when purchasing flights online. If an airline doesn't offer meal options at checkout, it would be best to call and ask for meal specifications.

If you're concerned about in-flight meals, be sure to pack or purchase some healthy snacks at the airport, such as nuts, fruit, veggies with dip, salad, yogurt, or sandwiches with lean meat. If you didn't bring any glucose tablets to control blood sugar levels, now would be the time to stock up on candy, soda, and juice.

Cups of nuts and dried dates
Purchase healthy snacks at the airport, such as nuts and fruits. Unsplash / Rachael Gorjestani

It's important to plan ahead when traveling with a health condition, and we hope this list will make you feel more confident in managing your diabetes during your trip. Happy and healthy trails!