On the road again...
Traveling: Whenever I travel, I over pack supplies and strive to be as healthy as possible…
But it can be tough. It’s hard for anybody, even without diabetes, to live healthy and in a good rhythm on the road. But I have a few ways to be overly healthy, which is crucial to keeping my BG in good range when I’m on the road. I make sure I keep juice, fruit, and a couple easy meals where I’m staying. I travel nonstop and have had to develop good routines. Whether for work or play, I have to make sure I have all my supplies for my journeys. I love being on the road, but it’s a constant challenge, too. I have to bring enough insulin and all the necessary supplies. On the day of travel, whether a road trip or flight, I keep all my insulin close by and have snacks at hand during the long flights or drives.
Since you’re away from home and not in your typical routine, it’s important to keep a regimented approach to your diabetes. You can do this very easily and it will facilitate your life on the road. A few key tips…
I aim to check my BG 5 times / day, if you have a CGM, calibrate as needed and make sure you’re comfortable with the settings and parameters of your device
I calculate the # of times a day I check my blood sugar, and my daily insulin doses, and multiply by the # of days I’ll be on the road; I always add a couple days, just in case
Bring a good pouch or Fannie pack for your on the go supplies. I’ll throw lancets 2-3 in the little container of my test strips, and I always keep a few extra insulin pen cap needles.
I have a small container for glucose tablets, and I keep candy or a sugary snack (I really love Sour Patch Watermelons or Hi-Chews). Just in case you’re on a flight, a bus or the metro, and you don’t have direct access to sugar, that you have something handy in case your BG is low
I’ve been on the road nonstop pretty much since I graduated college. I run a nonprofit org in Havana, Cuba and I travel there for about 2 weeks every other month. Cuba is a wonderful country, and their medical care is top notch. However, they don’t have a lot of the same supplies that I use for my management. No pen needles, no test strips, etc. so I always make sure to pack extra supplies just in case. I’ve learned to pack extra batteries, lancets, anything and everything, just in case.
In Cuba, I’m often at a friend’s home or an AirBnB, so I’ll make sure I’ve got Cliff Bars, mango or guava juice, coffee and sugar, and fruits like pineapple, mango or guava. In Cuba, there are great cafes, juice spots and neighborhood street cuisine that are perfect to grab a quick bite or an espresso. Other times, however, there are food deserts where it can be a big challenge to find anything. In that case, it’s important to have good pre planned snack options, like dried mango slices, Cliff Bars, trail mix, or even a PB&J.
Cuba’s food system is a bit different than my day to day in Los Angeles. There’s markets where you buy fruits, veggies and other foods on a daily basis. And a heavy rice and bean diet. There’s also a lot less sugar in the food and juices, so I take a lot less insulin for a mango juice than I would here in LA. I’m also out in the sun working and skateboarding and in general very active, so I take note of that as activity is good for your health, but will definitely lower your sugar levels.
I travel a lot, domestically, too. I take trips to NYC, Miami, San Francisco, San Diego, all over really, to visit friends and on work trips for my nonprofit. I’d drive with my partner from D.C. to Michigan, and on other day trips where I’m in the car for 6-8 hours. Just this past summer, I started going on camping trips with a few close friends and that’s been awesome.
When I go on camping trips, I take a similar approach. We go grocery shopping before we hit the campsite, so I’ll make sure I grab a container of juice, Cliff Bars, other snacks, and a variety of fruits. When we go hiking or off on adventures, I make sure I have a pouch full of testing supplies, needles and insulin. And I’ll bring glucose tablets, mango slices (these are great snacks especially for low BG), and generally we pack a lunch or other on the go snack.
Anyways, on these trips I do my best to prepare by bringing all the insulin and testing equipment that I’ll need for the time I’m gone. And same as on flights, I make sure to keep everything I need for the day in a pouch, back pack or carry-on). You should never check a bag with your medicine, just in case the bag were to not arrive. It’s crucial to keep all diabetes related necessities on your person. I learned that lesson the hard way.
My last recommendation is to enjoy the local cuisine and eating out, just make sure to consciously seek out fruits and other staples in your diet that you eat when at home. And if you’re more active and on the move, be sure to compensate but either decreasing your Lantus dose or your basal rate, and taking a little less insulin on your carb ratio.