Need a small fridge for a short internship to store insulin

I will be doing a short internship and I would like to find a small portable fridge that I can use for storing my insulin. The fridge would need to be small and portable enough to carry with my luggage.

Any suggestions or experiences.

hi @Kaymillsaok I travel for work and so my flights and hotel stays are for about a week. Most of my vacations are about 2 weeks. During these short trips, I only need 30 days supply of insulin and since insulin is fine for 30 days at “ambient” conditions I don’t bother with refrigeration but I do travel with an insulated cozy - it keeps my insulin protected for short periods of very high or very low temperatures. I have always taken “ambient” to mean not freezing (32F) on the cold side - and lower than, on average about 85F.on the high side.

Also in my travels the hotel fridges often freeze whatever is placed in side them, as will most poorly controlled commercial refrigerators or “nearly empty” hotel/motel fridges.

a luggage sized refrigerator is a big ask. what will power it? you cant fly with battery powered devices. “car” coolers (powered by 12V, off the car cigarette lighter), are between $100 and $500 but I would personally not trust it to keep insulin cold but not frozen.

a “Frio” pack or putting you insulin into an insulated container such as a “thermos”, for travel is handy, but managing PCM (cooler pack material that kind of keeps stuff cool) is more than I can tolerate for most of my trips.

I guess it would help to know if you were going to death valley in august for 4 months, or if you were planning a trip to chicago for a week… just to get the idea of what you might need.

anyway, and so you know I am not a crazy person, I work as an engineer and I design refrigerators and freezers for storing pharmaceutical materials, for a living, and I’m happy to offer advice. =)

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I can’t do better than what @joe told you, since he designs exactly this story of thing. But my first thought was one of those mini desktop fridges you store sodas in. That’s the smallest I can think of that you might use in your “home base” but it wouldn’t fit in luggage and I don’t know how stable the temperature is.
I don’t travel much but when I go on a long car ride my insulin is fine - I keep it in my purse so it doesn’t sit in the hot car during lunch or rest stops and I’ve never had a problem.
Enjoy your internship!

My internship will last up to 4 months and will be located in the mid west. I need something that will hold approx 20 - 25 insulin cartridges.


you are allowed to get mail-order insulin from pharmacy delivered to your temporary location. If you end up getting a rental, such as an apartment, the fridge in that kind of arrangement should be good enough. trying to get 4 months worth of a medication is a trick, because pharmacy authorization is usually 1 month or 3 months supply. good luck! hope you have a great internship!

Thanks for the replys.
Have you heard of a product from 4allfamily? They call it a cooler and medical fridge.

hi @Kaymillsaok , I looked them up - I think its very similar to a “thermos” type insulated container. It should work great by insulating your insulin from extreme high and low temperatures. .

I’ve used 6-can mini fridges when I’ve stayed somewhere without a real fridge. Something like this: Sharper Image | Kitchen | Sharper Image Hotcold Snack Box | Poshmark or the “Personal Chiller Mini Fridge Small Space Cooler” from Walmart (posting a link isn’t working for some reason).

I don’t think I’d want to fly with one, but if you’re driving or can ship it to your destination, it’d work well enough for 4 months. If you’re only worried about protecting your insulin while you’re actively traveling, though, and will have a fridge at your destination, I’d recommend either using frio packs or just packing the insulin as is and not worrying about keeping it cold. When I studied abroad I put 6 months worth of insulin boxes in my carry-on and didn’t worry about keeping them cold until I’d arrived. (My parents somehow pulled off the 6-month supply; I don’t know how.) Just don’t check your insulin and other medical supplies when flying, if you can avoid it. A) your luggage could get lost and then what would you do? and B) your insulin could freeze in the cargo hold.

I know I’m late in answering, but since you didn’t say when you are leaving I’ll put this suggestion in. What I do is use FRIO pouches. They come in different sizes and will keep your insulin cool in hot weather. They are also TSA approved, so you can carry them on the airplane with you.
One other thought, if you will have a fridge when you get where you are going, you can pack a small cooler bag with your insulin and ice packs like Blue Ice. The ice packs need to be frozen solid to be allowed on the plane. I’ve done this as well for longer trips, including overseas, with no problem.

Pam K.
T1D 57.11 years and counting!