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Travelling abroad as a diabetic

If you are travelling abroad with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, this is a helpful guide for you, full of tips and advice including preparations to make travelling with your diabetic medication safe and easy; ensuring you enjoy a hassle-free and fun holiday by making the right preparations to minimise the risk of any problems.

Things to consider before you travel:

  • Get the right travel insurance for your trip (be sure this covers health problems related to your diabetes)
  • Research the place you are going to and find out where you can get insulin
  • Speak to your GP about adjusting to a different time zone
  • If you are going on a plane, get a letter from your GP that says you have diabetes and need to take medication in your hand luggage
  • If you use a pump or CGM, check with your airline before you travel about taking it on board - some airlines will require paperwork for medical equipment

Can I take my diabetic supplies on a plane in my hand luggage?

Yes, you certainly can take diabetic supplies on a plane in your hand luggage for use when you are flying. You will be able to take both insulin and needles on to the plane if you need to. It's better to put insulin in your hand luggage as the hold of the plane will be too cold and could damage the insulin. You may need to carry diabetes ID along with you and you will need supporting documentation i.e. a letter from your GP or clinic stating that you have diabetes and the medication that you need to treat it. Currently security regulations state that liquid items are only permitted in hand luggage if they are in containers of less than 100ml. Don't worry, there are exceptions to this rule if need be but this is subject to authentication and the right documentation.

If you don't feel you'll need your medication on the plane, be sure to carry some anyway. It's helpful to split your supplies into separate bags and it can be worthwhile to have some in your hand luggage just in case your bags get lost in transit. It may be handy to carry some extra snacks with you to cover any eventuality (there may be a delay in your journey for example).

It's advisable to take a cool bag to stop the insulin from getting too hot and be sure not to put your pump through the hand luggage scanner. Instead let airport security know about your pump beforehand so they can check this another way. Heightened airport security means it's essential to plan ahead to avoid any problems later. It's a good idea to contact the airline directly or contact the department of transport if you have any concerns prior to taking your flight.

Will flying affect my diabetes?

You might be concerned, wondering how type 1 diabetes can affect your flying but if you prepare in advance there will be no need to worry - diabetes will not keep you grounded. Flight delays and the changes to your normal routine (like sitting whilst waiting for a plane) can have an affect on your blood sugar so ensure you test regularily and remember to keep snacks handy.

It's true that air travel can affect your blood sugar so, before you fly, you should plan ways to manage your diet and medication. It's a good idea, a month or more before your flight, to have a talk with your doctor about your itinerary and flight; including any time zone changes to get the best advice and know the right steps to take.

How much medication for diabetes will I need to pack?

The NHS advise that when you are travelling abroad with diabetes you pack 3 times as much insulin, test strips, lancets, needles and glucose tablets as you would expect to need just to ensure your safety for your time away (you never know if your flight could be delayed and taking extra is always a good precaution).

If you would like advice about taking medication abroad in general, including the types of medicine and equipment that can be carried in your hand luggage, then have a read of our travelling with medication page to find out more.

Remember to pack these if you need them:

  • insulin
  • test strips
  • lancets
  • needles
  • batteries
  • glucose tablets
  • extra snacks


The best travel insurance for diabetics

If you are travelling with diabetes type 1 or type 2 it is important that you have the right travel insurance for your holiday. You need to ensure that you have declared your pre-existing medical condition and that your travel insurance covers any health problems related to your diabetes.

If you need to book comprehensive holiday insurance at a great price, then book today with Holiday Extras by getting a quote or contacting our team on 0800 3160 308 quoting WY992. You will be taken through a discreet screening process which enables our team to tailor a policy that's specific to you - ensuring you have the right amount of cover for your trip. Please check out this travel insurance for diabetics page for further details.

Quick reminder of a few handy holiday tips:

  • Take snacks with you
  • Pack 3 times as much medicine and equipment as you would normally need
  • Take a cool bag to stop your insulin getting too hot
  • Remember a letter from your GP
  • Be prepared to test more whilst you're away - hot and cold weather can affect your blood glucose levels
  • Speak to your GP about the right dosage for your trip - depending on the temperature and activities you'll be doing

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