WOW....it's been over a year since I've written about travelling with my Type 1 Diabetic son. My post has had HUGE response and I've done a few more trips since then so I figured it was time to update it. WITHOUT further ado, HERE are all the best tips/tricks to making travelling with Type 1 Diabetes as EASY as possible! And read ALL the way to the bottom for handy shopping list of every item I mention!
STEP 1: LETTER OF MEDICAL NECESSITY!
I use the OUTSIDE pocket of my suitcase or carry-on 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. SIDE NOTE: Don't let THEIR potentially bad day be the reason for YOU to be rude. You are all in this travel gig together so rise up and PLAY NICE! Be prepared and BE RESPECTFUL! They have hard jobs too! And in case you think you don't need this for a roadtrip, think again. Many touristy places won't allow bags/luggage inside. Having this letter handy will save you the hassle of trying to explain the nuances of T1 to every security guard on duty.
STEP 2: ALL THE CARBS
Okay, so this one might SEEM redundant cause as a Type 1 Warrior 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-fartsy bottles or pouches that leak. 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-off 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. I also NEVER
leave home without both Glucose TABLETS and this super quick and easily portable Glucose GEL! It's truly for those emergencies when you need MORE and Juice won't get the job done. They are 24 grams of super efficient quick glucose that begins absorbing right away! NEVER leave the house without one SOMEWHERE on your body! MOMMA SAID SO!
STEP 3: PROPER PACKING!
Whether it's a road trip or flight, you need all your supplies gathered in ONE place for quick EASY access. I recommend:
Proper Suitcase: 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 am LOVING THIS suitcase because it's hard protective case adds a layer of protection to insulin vials and needles. Plus, it's small, rolls, and it's RED (a color generally associated with Med Alert stuff).
Proper Containers: This is where my OCD planning really shines. Once you have the perfect suitcase, you NOW need to protect the medical items from being crushed or otherwise mangled. ENTER, OXO! Oxo Brand 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 I tell ya. GENIUS!
Proper Insulin Protection: Now you guys KNOW that finding ways to keep insulin cold for long trips is a genuine panic-inducing nightmare. Packs are either ineffective and let the insulin warm up too much, or their a trial of bulky beer-cooler size clunkiness. Well don't you know I found these jewels over TWO years ago and I'm STILL using them! This Neoprene insulated pouch is what I used to keep our insulin COLD for an entire flight. 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 CST. We didn't get to the hotel on the other end of that day until nearly 10pm EST. No joke, the ice mat was still frozen and the insulin was perfectly cold for the ENTIRE trip. Two flights, big lay-over, in and out of planes and airports, whole she-bang! They are slim enough to fit in your purse, but frankly if you have the hardside suitcase and Oxo containers you could easily pack them inside your carry-on!
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