It can be challenging to manage diabetes while away from home, whether for a short time or a longer vacation—both can bring unexpected obstacles. Even the smallest changes to your schedule can disrupt blood sugar levels, so preparation is essential.

With the holidays around the corner, this is a likely scenario for many with diabetes. Here are a few tips to help start your travel checklist so that you can relax and feel ready for any situation.

Before you leave

  • Consult your doctor. If you’re planning on being away from home for a longer trip, be sure to see your doctor before leaving. Ask for a list of your prescriptions in case of an emergency, a letter stating that you have diabetes, and what supplies you need such as insulin/insulin pens, syringes, needles and lancing devices.
  • Pack extra supplies from your pharmacy. Pack twice as much medication and supplies as you need.
  • Ask your pharmacist or physician if you need any recommended vaccinations.
  • Pack the following items in your carry-on bag only:
    • Personal ID and passport (for international travel)
    • Emergency contact info
    • Medical ID card or jewelry
    • Medication and supplies
    • Prescriptions and medical letter
    • Glucose tabs or gel and hard candy
    • Glucagon emergency kit (if using insulin)
    • Extra batteries for your meter
  • Pack extra snacks. Keep your diet as normal as possible but remember to be prepared with plenty of snacks. If you’re in the car, pack a cooler with water, fruit, trail mix and nuts. For longer trips, think about packing a sandwich on whole grain bread and a bag of fresh vegetables.
  • Visit diabetes.org/airportsecurity for any questions you may have.

At the Airport

  • Arrive 2 to 3 hours early, but also be prepared for transport delays
    • Review TSA’s website for travel updates (tsa.gov).
    • Whenever possible, bring prescription labels for medication and medical devices. While it’s not required by TSA, making them available will make the security process go more quickly
    • Pack medications in a separate, clear, re-sealable bag
  • Don’t neglect monitoring your blood sugar regularly. Because your routine is a little different than normal, factors like activity levels, changes to what you eat and even time zones can affect your blood glucose levels—be sure to check levels often. Regular monitoring can help you stay ahead of any potential problems and avoid highs and lows.

Diabetes should not prevent you from enjoying your time away from home. By taking a little time to talk with your doctor and creating a plan that’s right for you, you will rest at ease.

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