Coping with Diabetes While Travelling

Diabetes, like a myriad of other illnesses, can be a huge inconvenience to the sufferer. Unfortunately, diabetes is a lot more common these days, with one source estimating that more than 2000 new cases of diabetes are diagnosed daily in the United States. It is also unfortunate that the most prevalent form of diabetes worldwide is Type II.

Let’s go through a basic understanding of diabetes first. Usually, after eating, food is broken down in the body, with one of the components being glucose, which is a sugar. This is then carried to cells throughout the body by blood blood. As part of the process, a hormone known as then converts glucose into energy.

In Type II diabetes, however, cells in the muscles, liver, and fat do not use insulin properly. As such, the pancreas cannot make enough insulin for the body’s needs. As the cells are being starved of energy, glucose levels then increase. This leads to undesirable outcomes such as damage to blood vessels and nerves. Bad times.

In the case of Type II diabetes, the risk factors are mainly lifestyle and environmental ones. For those who are already suffering, the main aim is to keep glucose levels under control. While symptoms might not be too obvious, the ones to take note off are weight changes, blurred vision and increasing hunger or thirst.

Ok, so it is reasonable to say that the most obvious ways to manage diabetes, consistent to what the doctors recommend, would be to keep a healthy weight, control blood sugar levels, take medication and eating well. Of course, we always recommend the Strategic Nutrition Guide as a resource, and in the case of travellers, also the Traveller’s Fitness Bible.

Now we come to the topic of travelling. The main rule for travelling diabetics is to plan! This can reduce your stress levels. Before you even go, get a pre-travel check-up with your Doctor. Make sure your A1C blood sugar levels, your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels are ok. This is very important.

The next thing to do is find out how to get medical help there if you ever need it. Obviously, visiting your home country (if you are a migrant) is easier than say, if you’re backpacking. However, this is very important also. Remember that the language barrier is one thing that needs to be factored in.

Another thing that might be good is to wear a medical ID with information about your diabetes. Once again, try to get it in all the languages of the places you will be visiting. Minimise misunderstanding with forward planning. Speaking of planning, keep your medication in your hand luggage. This is to ensure it doesn’t go astray. Make sure it has all the original labels on it, just in case you need a top-up while travelling.

One last tip, which many people often neglect, is to be aware of time zone changes. When you travel, your days become shorter or longer depending on which direction you’re going. Since diabetes medication relies on good timing, you will need to factor this in. All the best, and do check out the resources below as well:


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