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How should I prepare for a long trip if I have diabetes?

The key to successful traveling, especially when you have diabetes, is careful planning. Think of contingencies that might arise or any particular needs that you might encounter and develop a plan in advance. You may want to ask your healthcare provider for advice on how to pack and what to bring on your trip.

Before a long trip, have a medical exam to make sure your diabetes is in good control. Schedule the exam with enough time to work on your control before you depart. Get immunization shots—if you need them—at least one month before you leave. If the shots make you sick, you'll have time to recover before your trip.

Before any trip, get two papers from your doctor: a letter and a prescription. The letter should explain what you need to do for your diabetes, such as take diabetes pills or insulin shots. It should list insulin, syringes and any other medications or devices you use. The letter should also list any allergies you have or any foods or medications to which you are sensitive.

The prescription should be for insulin or diabetes pills. You should have more than enough insulin and syringes or pills to last through the trip. But the prescription may help in case of emergency. In the United States, prescription rules may vary from state to state.

The prescription laws may be very different in other countries. If you're going out of the country, write for a list of International Diabetes Federation groups.

After a long flight, take it easy for a few days if you have diabetes. Check your blood glucose often. If you take insulin, plan your activities so you can work in your insulin and meals.

If you are more active than usual, your blood glucose could go too low. Take along snacks when hiking or sightseeing. Don't assume you will be able to find food wherever you are.

No matter what kind of diabetes you have, it's smart to watch what you eat and drink when traveling. Avoid tap water overseas. This includes ice cubes made from tap water.

Ask for a list of ingredients for unfamiliar foods. Some foods may upset your stomach and hurt your diabetes control. But you will also find foods that give you a healthy taste of culture.

Wear comfortable shoes and never go barefoot. Check your feet every day. You should look for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling, and scratches. Get medical care at the first sign of infection or inflammation.

Go wherever your heart leads you. Just remember that you take your diabetes with you. Take your self-care along, too.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.