Best Tips for Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes
Traveling on an airplane with a person or child who has Type 1 Diabetes can be a scary thought. Ever since my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we have only flown on two occasions. The first time we traveled, everything went over smooth and loved the experience, that we decided it was not so bad after all.
However, the second time around, we were not so lucky. There were numerous issues with our last flight that made me desire not to travel anymore. Everything went wrong on this last trip. The TSA line was horribly long, for a 6 am flight; we were SUPER late for our flight (I know, our fault, but we almost lost our plane!), the TSA person was not well trained on how to check a bag for a person who is diabetic. All I can say, thankfully we did not lose our plane. We had to go all “Home Alone” (like the movie), running like crazy people in order to catch our flight to Puerto Rico.
Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes on a plane, quoting Forest Gump, can be “like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”. Therefore, it is better to get prepared in order for you to have a smooth TSA experience and you can start enjoying your vacation before hitting the airport.
What To Do Before Arriving At Your Destination
When picking your destination, find out the nearest hospitals and pharmacies of the place you are traveling to. You never know in case of an emergency if you need to go to the hospital, get extra supplies or get another type of medication from the pharmacy.
Getting Ready to Travel
I usually have on my iPhone my daughter’s emergency contact information: the Pediatrician’s number, the Endocrinologist’s contact information, her medical condition, medication she is taking, and other family members information who know about her medical condition. This on my iPhone on the medical ID portion (in case your cellphone has a password to get in).
Flying with Diabetes Supplies
As a precaution and in case of an emergency, pack twice as much of the medical supplies. It’s always best to be over prepared than under prepared.
On you carry-on bag pack the following:
- test strips
- pump infusion sites
- insulin cartridges
- ketones testing strips (blood or urine)
- fast acting insulin
- long-acting insulin (in case of pump failure)
- syringes (in case of pump failure)
- CGM sensors
- your health insurance card
- your Endocrinologist’s information
- information of another family member who knows your condition
- any oral medication you might be taking
- extra batteries for your insulin pump and/or glucose meter
- a snack pack of crackers and/or cheese, peanut butter, fruits, juice box, and some form of sugar (hard candy, glucose tablets, fast-acting glucose liquid) to treat low blood sugars
Get to the airport early
If your flight is at 3pm, get there by noon. This is just to ensure that everything runs smoothly and if there are any surprises on your checking in, you have enough time to resolve the issue.
TSA and Diabetes
Find out beforehand about TSA’s guideline for traveling with Type 1 Diabetes.
You can get a TSA diabetes notification card or a letter from your doctor indicating that you or your loved one has Type 1 Diabetes and the need for your supplies.
Inform the TSA officer of your Medical Devices
You need to disclose to the TSA officer of your medical condition and the medical devices that you have on your body. Inform the TSA where on your body you have your insulin pump and your CGM placed. It can help speed up the process.
You cannot be required to take off your insulin pump and CGM. However, you can be subjected to additional screening, like a pat-down and hand screening with a detector. For my daughter, since she is a child by the time that I am writing this post, they have not done the pat-down. They just make us go through the metal detector. Once she gets older, this might change and she might be subjected to additional screening.
Arriving At Your Destination
As soon as you arrive to your destination, place your extra insulin (fast-acting and long-acting) in the refrigerator, especially if you are in a warm climate.
After you get settled in your destination, have FUN!
If you have additional questions regarding your medications, contact TSA Passenger support, 72 hours prior to your flight.
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