Going Abroad and Diabetes: Travel Advice for Insulin Dependent Diabetics


People with diabetes, like any other person like to go on holiday or need to visit other countries for business or educational purposes. However, it’s not just as simple as booking a ticket and packing a case. Making preparations that will ensure blood sugar maintenance and avoid ill health are important factors to consider. Making contact with your embassy, if represented in the country you are visiting, is a good start.

Travel Arrangements

Make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date and check for any particular requirements for the country that you are visiting.It is advisable to take twice as much medication as you need just in case of loss or mishap. Make sure you find out before you go, the units of measurement for monitoring and administration, which may be different

Photocopy medical and travel insurance policies to take with you and keep with a list of all your medications.

Medication and Equipment

If you are travelling with a partner, share the medication between you just in case of loss or misplacement. Invest in a small cool bag to store your insulin during your travel and if necessary whilst at your destination. However, insulin should not be packed with checked in luggage, as the temperature will be too cold.

A medical ID band or necklace is a good method of identification especially in a country that doesn’t speak your language. If you are travelling to a country with a different time zone, consider the timings of your insulin administration before you go. Different climates can also affect insulin absorption and glucometer readings, so this should be taken into consideration also.


Pack a snack in case of delays so you don’t miss meals if things don’t go to plan. Take a supply of your preferred solutions for dealing with hypoglycaemic attacks e.g. glucose tablet. If you are prone to travel sickness you will need to consider appropriate measures as excess, vomiting will affect your blood sugar levels and lead to dehydration. It’s also wise to take bottled water with you where you can although you will need to observe the usual airline restrictions regarding fluids. If staying in a country whose language you do not speak, a phrase book, which includes the terms for menus, food items and accessing medical help, is essential.

General Health

The normal preventative measures for travel are equally applicable to diabetics. Make sure you wear loose fitting clothes and shoes in case of swelling, take walks where, and when you can to stimulate the circulation system.

Pack a simple first aid kit for minor injuries and consider taking medication for gastric upsets. Be aware of insect bites, which swell up and could become infected. Consider using some preventative spray in addition to the preparations to apply to a bite. Keep an eye on any cuts, bites and inflammation and seek medical help if you are worried. Don’t restrict yourself from joining in any activities but do make sure you monitor regularly and adjust your medication if required to compensate.

There is no doubt that having diabetes changes your life. But with a little extra preparation at the planning stage you can sit back, relax and enjoy your travels.