How to keep insulin cool when traveling to tropical spots

Hello!
I’m curious On a couple of things. I have a frio insulin pack and feel like it failed when I was in Texas earlier this month. When I got home and removed my insulin from the pouch it was warm.

I’m traveling to Florida for a work trip soon but really would like my insulin to stay cool. Any suggestions on what to use? I can resort to a lunch box if needed, but it’s for a presidents club trip for work so don’t necessarily want to carry that around in addition to a purse. Also was curious if we can bring ice packs on airplanes? I typically just toss a couple vials of insulin and my back up lantus in case my pump breaks down, but I’d love to keep my back ups nice and cool until I need to use them this time.

Thanks!

Hi @Tee25 . Was your insulin warm, or at room temp when you took it out of the pouch? Attached are some guidelines regarding insulin storage. Generally it should be kept in the fridge until opened, and is good for a certain time at room temp afterwards. The package should tell you specifically for your vials or pens. If it looks funny by all means don’t use it, but unless it is exposed to extreme temps such as in a hot car, it should be okay.
If you think your Frio is broken there are lots of alternatives on Amazon for pens and vials - some look like insulated travel mugs for coffee.

https://www.goodrx.com/conditions/diabetes/how-long-can-insulin-be-out-the-fridge

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Hi Taylor @Tee25 , not to worry about insulin remaining effective in warm Florida as long as you observe obvious “do not” factors such as leaving your insulin in a closed car for hours in the sun or exposed and unprotected on a beach.

I moved from Massachusetts to Florida a couple of decades ago and initially had concerns similar to you. For years, I have never injected or infused cold [refrigerated] insulin; I remove a vial from the refrigerator a day or two before opening the vial and leave it on the kitchen counter until empty - about one month. Cold analog insulin formulations operate less efficiently in my body than room-temperature or outside temperatures. Up until a couple of years ago, I would be on 6+ hour bike rides three days every week and my the insulin in my pumps continued to work effectively, these days I can be working out in the field [I volunteer on a small farm], in the sun for 8 hours and my insulin does not appear to degrade. Walks on the sunny beach with my pump clipped to my trunks were common, although when I go into the water I remove my pump and either put it in a cooler if available or wrap it loosely in a towel and try to put it in the shade of a tree, chair or umberler.

Your extra supplies of insulin should be safe in a hotel room, especially if you place them in the ice bucket; in the 1950s until Humalog, the first analog insulin, I traveled regularly for business and would keep my insulin cold by placing a tumbler in the hotel ice bucket. When flying, keep ALL insulin with you, not in checked baggage; your frio can be used on flights.

Enjoy your President’s Club gathering!!! And if to are arriving through SRQ, let me know.

Hi Taylor,

Sorry to hear about your problems with the Frio Pouch. I’m wondering, where did you keep the pouch while you were traveling? The reason I ask is, if the Frio Pouch is kept inside something, like your purse, it will not evaporate as it should resulting in the insulin in it getting warm. These pouches cool via evaporation, so they have to be kept in the open air. I use them here in Arizona, and the only time I’ve had them get warm is when I put it inside something. In my pocket is usually okay, unless the pants are tight fitting. If so, I use the belt loop on the pouch to either hook it on with a carabiner, or wear a belt.

That is all that I can suggest. Good luck!

Pam K.
T1D 57.10 years and counting!

Ooh! That’s good to know. It was in my purse so maybe that’s the issue right there. So if you’re poolside or whatever, you just leave it out in the pouch?

As far as ice packs on airplanes goes, I put my insulin carrier in my back pack and put it through the scanner. Mine uses blue ice which was specifically made to carry insulin vials and since TSA started checking I have only had one incident on a return trip home from DIA. The blue ice had melted and was liquid in the plastic container and also over the allowable ounce limit for a carry on. I had to request a TSA supervisor to get involved and after about 20 minutes they finally let me go through. Since then I always make a point to refreeze the blue ice pack the night before I leave my destination.

So long as insulin is kept below 80F and is not exposed to direct sunlight if should be ok out of a fridge for 4 weeks.
A Frio pouch will maintain the internal temperature that the water was when it was immersed - so long as it is allowed to freely dry out all the time it is in use. To revive A Frio, soak it in water cooler than 70F at least every 45 hours. . To get best cooling time from a Frio, before storing insulin in one, refrigerate it or soak it in the same cool water used to charge/cool the Frio, whichever is cooler. Keeping it out of direct sunlight or containers heated by direct sunlight will help.
I suggest that you re-read the instructions.(https://friouk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/frio_insulin_travel_wallet_instruction_leaflet_-_english.pdf)

50+ year diabetic. Traveled everywhere in the USA, from Phoenix to Fargo. My only worry is keeping it from freezing. If course I don’t leave it in a parked car in the heat but I just don’t worry much about it in a bag or pouch on my person. I have NEVER had a problem. No worries. Just use common sense.

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What works in the central continental United States doesn’t apply in sub tropical regions like the southern peninsula of Florida. Pervasive heat plus humidity. penetrates luggage. Even Frios that use evaporation for cooling are challenged. There’s no way you can guarantee you’ll be in an air conditioned environment all the time and heating effects are cumulative.

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Hello Taylor,

48 years with T1D, and broadly travelled.

When I spent 5 years in Saudi Arabia, I was as concerned as you are. I contacted a pharmacist at home in Oz to ask this exact question, and he assured me that insulin is much tougher than we are led to believe.

Yes for long term storage it needs to be kept in the fridge, but so long as common sense is used, it can handle weeks out of the fridge when travelling. Common sense is keeping it out of the direct sun, hot cars, as mentioned earlier etc.

An example of how tough it is was when I was in an endurance event in The Sahara Desert in Morocco. I kept my insulin packed deep in the middle of my back pack, wrapped in socks or other material, and all was OK, even though the daily temperatures were getting as high as 56C - 130F.

I was away from home for 6 weeks on that trip, due to the volcano exploding in Iceland. From Oz to England to Morocco to the Sahara to Spain to England then back to Oz, my insulin was never in a fridge and it was perfectly fine.

The key points are common sense and trust. I hope this helps.

Alex

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I am attending an outdoor concert tomorrow and it will be over 100 degrees for most of the day. I’m concerned about the insulin in my pump ( Medtronic 670G). I’m trying to figure out how to stay out of the sun, stay hydrated, etc. but even if I stay in my car with AC as long as possible…it’ll still be over 90 degrees when the main act starts. (Robert Plant). Anyone else and I’d cancel. Will the insulin still work? Does that Frio device work if the insulin is in a pump? I have to keep the pump dry. Any suggestions?

Please note, I haven’t tried this with my pump but there are cooling towels you can get at HomeDepot/Target/Walmart that last for a few hours according to their description. You have to wet them and wring them out to “activate” and “recharge” them; so they’re damp and you might want to put some sort of barrier between them and your pump for safety sake.
My only other thought would be taking a pump break for the day, switching to shots and using a Frio for your pens. Sorry I’m responding so late - I know that takes some planning.
Enjoy the concert and be safe in the heat!

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I appreciate the tips. I am going to get some cooling towels to take. Hope places aren’t sold out.

The thought of taking a pump break for the day is rather terrifying. Oh well….if I see my numbers rise, I’ll go to the medic station and cool down and watch numbers and treat.

Went the concert! My freshman year college roommate was a huge Led Zeppelin fan - you brought back memories…

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Yaaaay! I’ve seen Plant quite a few times. I’ve seen him perform with Jimmy Page several times too, but never as Zeppelin. That would have been AWESOME! This was my first time seeing him with Krauss. It was hot, but the cooling towel helped. It didn’t get as hot as predicted, but still….90F is hot. Lol

I’m not sure about posting the link for this video, but there is a video of Battle of Evermore from the show last night n you tube. Search Plant Krauss, Cary NC June 14.

So glad you had a great time - I’ll check out the video. Stay cool :blush:.

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For the future, if you’re ever in a situation like this again, Frio makes a Pump Pouch that will keep your pump cool. I live in the desert SW where summer temps reach 120 degrees F and it works great!

Pam K.
T1D 57.11 years and counting!