Traveling with diabetes- Questions

Hey everyone :slight_smile:
So I have traveled internationally before and for extended periods of time, but that was back when I had a functioning pancreas. This january I will be going to South America for 3 weeks for a volunteer program and am not worried too much about the stay there, but rather questions about flying, etc.
I know you should always bring extra supplies but how much extra supplies should I consider bringing? Also my sister informed to make sure I have the prescription baggies for my insulin pens in my carryon but is there any diabetic supplies that they don’t allow in a carry on (or does it depend sometimes)? I know different airports are sometimes more flexible with certain things haha.
I am trying to get all my stuff prepared ahead of time during the summer so I don’t have to do too much when I’m back at school in September.
Thanks in advance!

@Autumn_Rose I would bring supplies for 5 weeks, but 6 weeks worth is good too.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS carry-on with medicine and supplies.

No, there isn’t any kind of supply including (if you wat to) cold gel packs, orange juice or juice boxes from outside security, etc. However: this WILL cause a ruckus, and they will have to take you aside, and do special swabbing of all the containers and extra time in security. Insulin, sharps of all kinds, cgm applicators, testing strips, liquid insulin, a zillion alcohol swabs, and whatever go straight through.

It is a good idea for you to have proof-of-prescription, though I travel regularly without. Oh and security coming home may be VERY different.

good luck safe travels


@joe Thanks for the tips!

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Whenever I travel anywhere I usually get a note from my endo saying this is what she requires to travel. I’m not sure if it actually helps but gives me piece of mind that if anyone were to question anything I have documentation to support it. I always bring the bulk of my diabetes supplies with me on the plane like joe said. Way too much risk if your baggage gets lost. I also always go overkill. If I go anywhere for a week I bring two weeks. I’d rather have way too much than not enough

@Tee25 Thanks for the help!

Always check ahead for health issues in the area you are going to. If a lock down for some reason becomes eminent make sure you have enough med’s to cover you for an extended time until you are able to get the quickest flight home with quarantines, delays, etc. possible. You may have 5 weeks of supplies but remember how people on ocean cruises were held on the ships waiting. Safe travels.

@rs3880 goood to know, thanks!

I don’t recall the storage guidelines for pens, so check the seasonal temps and take an insulin cooler if you will need one. There are portable ones with gel or other cooling materials - some configured for pens - to protect your investment if you’re out and about for an extended time.
Have fun!!

@wadawabbit Thanks for the help!

Since insulin at room temperature is only good for 28 days (or whatever your packaging says; there is some variation depending on the type), and since you’ll definitely want to presume you’re going to get stuck somewhere for longer than you planned, you’ll likely need to keep your spare insulin refrigerated. As Dorie mentioned, gel sleeves are great for the pens you’re actively using, to keep them at room temperature when you’re outside in the heat, but for the spares you’re bringing in case you end up staying longer than the 28 (or whatever) days you have left on your current pens, you’ll need refrigeration. Make sure you have access to a fridge at your destination. Others (individuals and businesses, both) will often be happy to let you store your insulin in theirs, if you won’t have your own wherever you’re staying. Just try to be thoughtful about when you go retrieve it — best not to knock on their door in the middle of the night if you can help it. :slightly_smiling_face:

As for keeping those spares cold on the flight/train/bus to your destination, we’ve just used an insulated lunch bag with some artificial ice packs, again erring on the side of too many in case travel took longer than we thought it would. (Note: don’t pack SO many that the insulin could actually freeze, since that’s no good, either.) We announced it was medicine that had to be kept refrigerated, they opened the bag, looked inside, and passed it through. Once someone had to get a supervisor to say it was fine. Like Joe said, just plan on it taking longer than it otherwise would.

Have a great trip!

I carry my insulin in Frio bags. You can order from Amazon or direct from Frio, which is what I do. The bag is soaked in water to activate some magic in the bags. The bags keep everything cool. Depending on what you need you can carry just insulin or you can get them to also carry pens. They work really well and then you don’t need to worry about refrigeration

Those are the gel packs mentioned earlier. Again, they’re great for keeping the insulin you’re using from getting too hot, but they are not refrigeration. If you’re preparing to be gone for longer than your current pens will last at room temperature, then you do need a way to keep that additional insulin refrigerated until you want its 28 (or whatever) days at room temperature to start ticking.

I agree
Always carry it all with you
We travel a lot and we got global re-entry. This allows you to go thru security without taking off and opening up everything. Check out the site thru US . Gov. There is a domestic one ( TSA pre check) and an international one ( global re-entry) You should get it done well before you travel.
I just walk thru security and don’t even mention I have a pump. They screen my back pack and the only time I was stopped was when I had an oversized bottle of shampoo.
They do random checks on pre check passengers at times and then do the swab test if you have a pump.
As for supplies, I take twice what I think I will need. I use an insulated lunch bag to keep things cool or at least away from sunlight. Little ice packs can help if you get the chance to freeze them however you don’t want the insulin to lay on the ice itself so I put a small facecloth between the ice and the insulin. Good luck and safe travels. Hope you have a great adventure.

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Hi, call it overkill but … we take enough supplies as if we had to do a site change every single day. It just gives peace of mind. Along with infusion sets, insulin, alcohol wipes, glucagon, sensors, glucose meter and strips, etc , ketone test strips, I also bring enough syringes and pens to serve as a back up. Others have also mentioned a travel letter from the dr.

You didn’t mention if you were using a pump but — if you are, you will want extra batteries; or if you are using a pump like Tandem that is rechargeable battery, you might like to verify in advance, that you will be able to plug it in successfully to recharge at your destination especially if overseas.

Just a suggestion, it sounds like you have summer to prepare so you could “practice”. Keep a box or a bag and toss stuff in as you use it at home. This will be a way to check if there is something that you might have overlooked from your home routine.

In the spirit of … overkill, maybe … I actually keep a packing list that I developed on an early trip. I keep the list in a suitcase and then I don’t have to figure it out anew each time we go somewhere, I can just run down the list.

I also will look up in advance, that there is a Walgreen’s or a CVS or something near where we are going, and write down address and phone #.

I always say - my grandparents emigrated from Europe with less stuff than I take on a vacation. But it gives peace of mind.

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Great advise about electrical issues. Multiple adapters may need to be included in the packing endeavors for recharging CGM’s pumps, etc.

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@srozelle Thanks for all the info! I’ve checked in at where I’m staying and they said they do have a fridge I can use. Thanks for the super helpful information about the gel/ice packs, I’ve been looking at some cases on amazon.

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@RMcM Thanks, those are super helpful tips! I don’t use a pump but that reminds me to get batteries for my backup meter haha so thank you. I have started a list so far and def will check in with my endo about the letter.

@Anne98 Thank you! I’ll look into that!

I agree with Taylor. Whenever I have travelled overseas I have had doctor’s notes explaining my condition, what I need and what I must have on the carryon rather than with the luggage. The pens, the glucometer, two backups for infusion sets or insulin pens and things like that is generally what I have taken. The one I am using and two backups for everything.

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Hi Autumn Rose,
I’ve traveled to south America several times with insulin vials and syringes in my case that I took with me everyday. I never told them I was a diabetic and had supplies on me. carrying syringes definitely get attention if they find it on you going through security but I do not believe I have ever carried a prescription anywhere I have ever went or traveled domestically or internationally. I only got questioned beyond a simple “are you a diabetic?” when I was returning from Brazil. They called a supervisor who said couldn’t have those without a subscription. I asked him if he was really going to take my insulin and supplies from me on a 10 hour flight, I said that wouldn’t look good for him if there was an incident while in the air and they had to make an emergency landing but told him to go ahead and td and take them, I have plenty more on the other end of the flight. He chose not to make the decision and called someone else above him and they said “okay no problem, have a nice flight, sorry for the delay”.
I would just do what you would do on any trip whether its down the street or miles away. the chance of anything happening that would cause you to run out of anything are slim and most South American countries have free healthcare so you’ll be taken care of if you need anything. I went to the ER in Brazil by ambulance one time. It was more a small pickup with a shell on it and the ER was a building with open windows, no glass, air or curtains. The Doctor was very good and knew his stuff more than some of the doctors I had here in the US. I was impressed overall. I’m sure it varies depending on where you are just like here in The US.
But you’re not going to need to worry about any of that…
Have a fun and safe trip.