Up until this past 7 months I can honestly say I couldn't fathom the idea of travelling with my type 1 diabetic kiddo. The very IDEA of being far away from my security blanket of supplies would give me sweats. And then there was the horror stories online about how awful security was trying to get everything thru, and what happens when the pressurized airplane affects my kids BG's and the flight attendant can't respond fast enough....and what if the infusion sets get pulled off accidentally, and...and...AND...!!!!
It was enough to make any momma break into a cold sweat! But now, I can say that from September of 2016 til March 2017, I have traveled with my kiddos a total of four time including 8 flights! No joke - a vacation, a house hunting trip, and a cross country move forced me OUT of my comfort zone and into the brave new world of T1 Travel. I learned a LOT along the way so I wanted to compile it all here for you.
LIST OF MUST HAVES TO FLY WITH A TYPE 1 DIABETIC
(complete with handy links for shopping from the comfort of your chair)
First, lets dispel a big fears of travelling with a Type 1 Diabetic kid. The worry that airport security is going to make your life miserable. Now, to be truthful there ARE some awful stories out there but they are the EXCEPTION and not the rule. With a little planning and a lot of respect, you can have a perfectly seamless trip through just about any airport security checkpoint. REMEMBER -- THEIR JOB IS TO KEEP YOU ALL SAFE. They are trained to look FOR dangerous items that might not be safe on an airplane. So if you happen to come across one of these hard working souls at the end of a long shift on a bad day, their attitude might not be the fresh ray of sunshine you hoped for. But even the MOST gruff of attendants can't hassle you too much if you are RESPECTFUL and PREPARED! So keep your cool, arrive in plenty of time so you aren't rushed, MIND YOUR MANNERS and pack accordingly. And THAT brings me to my MUST HAVE travel items for flying with a Type 1 Diabetic.
One thing I learned when I began freaking out, thus over researching, our travel plans....was that if you have a letter of medical necessity, you are allowed one extra carry-on bag to contain said medical equipment. Did you know, cause it rocked my world! That said, depending on the size of the plane you are in, you STILL might have to gate-check, or attendant check that bag, or it might get REALLY crammed in the overhead bin. So you need THE SMALLEST SUITCASE YOU CAN USE FOR SUPPLIES FOR YOUR TRIP. Don't go crazy here and over-pack. Other than the obvious (insulin, infusion sets, prescriptions) almost ALL other items CAN be restocked on the other side....so avoid the need to OVER PACK a larger suitcase. I like THIS suitcase because it's cheap, small, rolls, and it's RED (a color generally associated with Med Alert stuff). I bought one and used it for no less than 8 flights. It's still in great condition and is now sitting in the floor of my medical supply cabinet for future flights. I use the OUTSIDE pocket to house a small file folder containing MULTIPLE COPIES of the medical letter of necessity (some docs call it a Travel letter) from my kids pediatrician and/or endocrinologist. The security personnel may want to see the letter, some will want to KEEP the letters so have plenty of copies and keep them in that outer pocket so they are handy. They also work well to bust out if a flight attendant tries to make you check your bag....just POLITELY hand them a copy of the letter EXPLAINING why the bag needs to stay with you. Again, don't let THEIR potentially bad day be the reason for YOU to be rude. PLAY NICE! SIDE PERK - check out this AWESOME luggage on Zazzle I designed! Talk about making a STATEMENT!
Now these little jewels are the CLUTCH of my packing genius! Keeping in mind again that no matter how small your suitcase is, you MIGHT have to gate check that thing. And on every fligiht you will be asked to cram that sucker into the overhead bin, and there is no guarantee that the guy behind you doesn't try and SHOVE his laptop bag on top of it in order to comply as well. So once you have a good suitcase you NOW need to protect the medical items from being crushed or otherwise mangled. ENTER, OXO! Oxo has these genius little Good Grips pantry storage containers. They are clear hard plastic rectangles and squares. The lids pop on tight and since they are CLEAR, the Security personnel can open the suitcase and easily SEE all the contents. Now before you tell yourself, why on earth do I need a spaghetti container, allow me to also blow your mind. DEXCOM sensors and Needles fit PERFECTLY inside that tall spaghetti container. I was able to put 2 Dexcom sensors, and a whole BAG of needles inside. They were safe, CRUSH PROOF, and since all the sharp stuff was in ONE container, I only had to open the one item to show security (not unpack my entire fricking bag). And for that matter, don't forget ziplocs around all your tablets, gels, and juice boxes for that JUST IN CASE leak or spill. That way if one thing spills it doesn't go everywhere. Plus the ziplocs make a handy place to put all the test strips and bloody alcohol swabs while in the germ-filled planes. See folks....planning and preparation! The other containers are great for organizing your supplies by type. That really small one was perfect for holding multiple tubes of Glucose tablets and gels. The medium size was perfect for alcohol swabs and skin prep wipes and tagaderms. the other tall-ish one was GREAT for packing JUICE boxes (crush proof people....crush proof). You can organize and SEE all your supplies and then tetris those containers together into your magical little suitcase. It's GENIUS!
Okay. This was a doozy and frankly what I used for our first trip didn't work to well. But by the time I got to our 3rd and 4th trip I got it down to a good science. This Neoprene insulated pouch is what I used to keep our insulin COLD for the entire flight. Plus, it's TSA compliant. I was able to put several vials of insulin and zip it closed and everything stayed cold. I left the insulin vials INSIDE their boxes. Then I placed them each in a small ziploc. I placed those INSIDE this neoprene bag along with the ice mat from the freezer. When we relocated from Texas to Connecticut I pulled those out of the fridge/freezer at around Noon. We didn't get to the hotel on the other end of that day until nearly 10. No joke, the ice mat was still frozen and the insulin was perfectly cold for the ENTIRE trip. Two flights, big lay-over, whole she-bang! I bought one for the earlier trips but when we moved I had more stock tot take with me so I bought another one giving me 2. I will be honest I did NOT place these inside the suitcase because I was paranoid. But they are a slim enough profile that they fit nicely in my purse for the trip.
ALL THE CARBS:
Okay, so this one might SEEM redundant cause as a parent of a Type 1 kiddo you are NEVER far from the various carbs. But I like to be thorough so here are my favs in general for travel purposes and WHY. I like this brand of Juice Boxes because they are EXACTLY 15 carbs but also SMALL compact little boxes. No artsy tall things that don't fit my kids bag or squishy pouches that are nightmares on leaking. I buy these and I use my ziplocs and we never have issues. I always had a few with me for the airplane rides because sometimes the pressurized cabin or nerves on take-up and landing etc, could cause some drops in BG. And when that happens the flight attendant might not be able to quickly respond and give you juice from their cart. So having these ON YOU is imperative.
BUY EM....LOVE EM....YOUR WELCOME!
That's it folks. If you pack it right, it's easy to show security what they
For other T1 Articles, checkout: