During the holidays, you may plan to go “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.” But even if “the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh,” chances are you’ll be driving in a car or flying on a plane.
No matter how you travel, you need to be prepared for your child with diabetes. Here are some tips:
Double up. “When traveling, take twice as many diabetes supplies as you think you’ll need,” recommended Janet Haas, RN, CDE, diabetes educator at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Count supplies twice, pack once. Make sure to take along your child’s blood glucose meter, batteries, glucose tablets, ketone test strips, needles, insulin and treatments for severe low blood sugar.
Keep things handy. Make sure you have the diabetes supplies available at all times. When driving, keep the supplies in the front seat. If you’re flying, place them in your carry-on bag versus in checked luggage.
Stow it right. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on proper storage of insulin.
Allow plenty of time. If you’re flying, plan on spending extra time going through security. TSA officials will most likely look through your bags.
Consult with your team. Before traveling, check in with your child’s diabetes healthcare providers and ask them for recommendations and tips, such as how to inject insulin while on an airplane.
Display a medical ID. In case of emergency, your child should wear a medical ID bracelet at all times.
Check, check and check. Err on the safe side by testing your child’s blood sugar levels more often than usual. During long trips, your child may be less active than usual, and this can affect her glucose levels.
Allow for “time travel.” You may need to adjust the amount and timing of insulin administration if you travel across different time zones. However, you should consult with your diabetes team first before altering your child’s care plan.
Pack a snack. It’s important to carry healthy snacks with you. While traveling, anticipate unexpected delays and traffic backups. “Take along good snacks like nut or fruit bars, crackers and cheese, sandwiches, and fresh or dried fruit,” said Haas. “And, be sure to have plenty of water so that your child doesn’t get dehydrated.”
Make it fun. Don’t forget to pack toys and other forms of entertainment along with diabetes supplies. Ideas include pads of paper and crayons, finger puppets, sticker and/or magnetic play books, and a Rubik’s Cube for older kids. Consider stashing away fun items in a travel kit that you save for trips.
“If you’re well prepared, you can travel easily and safely with your child with diabetes,” said Haas. “Don’t let diabetes discourage you from enjoying trips to see family and friends during the holidays.”
For more information on flying with your child with diabetes, check out our recent blog post, “Up in the Air about Flying with Your Child with Diabetes? Read These Tips.”
For additional information about diabetes, visit Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.