Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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What’s that old Connie Francis song? Oh, yeah: “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! In the summer sun!”

Well, if it’s May, it must be close to summer and, according to Little Orphan Annie, the sun’ll come out tomorrow (unfortunately, always a day away).

At any rate, for many people, summertime is time to hit the road. Most just throw some stuff in a suitcase and go. Those of us with diabetes have a bit of planning to do.

BD — that would be “Before Diabetes” — my wardrobe was uppermost on my mind. What would the weather be like where I was going? Based on what I would be doing, what kind of clothing would I need to take?

Now? It doesn’t matter if it’s hot, cold, or just right. If I’m attending the opera, yelling for my team at a ballgame, or just hanging out. No matter what, I’ll need my diabetes medication and equipment. Therefore, insulin, metformin, pump supplies, continuous glucose monitor (CGM) supplies, and such have moved to the top of the list.

Take more than you would normally use. If you run out of something, it might not be easy to replace it. I believe they say twice as much. Ha! The last time I traveled (in February/March), I took three times as much and still came close to running out of pump infusion sets after accidentally pulling a couple of them out.

Are you flying? You might want to go to this website to read the Transportation Security Administration’s guidelines for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.

Once upon a time, I swear I read where you could take a third bag for medical supplies and equipment. Darned if I can find it now. Whatever — I take three bags anyway: my purse; a bag for medications and supplies; and something for chargers (for example, my scooter charger), a BiPAP machine, and a change of clothes, jammies, and whatever I need for a couple of days. That comes after I went to Europe and my luggage went to Denver.

Trains? Buses? I’ve not taken a long trip on either, so I’m not the best person to give advice. However, I would advise you to take some food with you. While trains have meals and snacks and buses stop along the way, the food is unlikely to be very healthful unless you’re having a sit-down meal in the dining car.

Cars, I know. Or more specifically, a van or its predecessor, a station wagon. We load up an ice chest with sliced turkey and roast beef for sandwiches, vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, fresh mushrooms, and slices of crisp bell peppers. Cheese and yogurt are good, as is baked chicken. Don’t forget the seasonal fruits. In another ice chest is water, juice, and vegetable drinks buried in the ice. And a few sodas for treats.

Every rest stop I’ve ever been to has picnic tables, so there’s no excuse not to stop, walk around, stretch some, and eat outside of the car. If you have children with you, they can run off some pent-up energy. You can all go potty, too.

What are you doing with your insulin? If it gets too hot or too cold, it can deteriorate very quickly. I learned to be very careful with those little refrigerators in hotel rooms. We were traveling in December, so we brought the coolers in and put the food in the fridge. The next morning, we opened the refrigerator — to find frozen food. I was so glad I hadn’t put my insulin in there!

Many people swear by Frio cases, which come in sizes for everything from insulin vials and pens to insulin pumps. Since all a Frio needs is plain ol’ water — even a puddle will do — it’s good for anyplace.

Another cooler involves a wide-mouthed Thermos. If I used that, I would wrap my insulin in a washcloth, put it in a Baggie, then put it in the Thermos with ice. That would, of course, take having access to ice. It wouldn’t work if you like hanging out in the wilderness.

Oh, yeah. Cruising comes to mind. Pick a good cruise line. Tell ’em (in advance) what you need. More than likely, it’ll be waiting for you when you arrive.

Do you have any travel tips? Please share them with the Diabetes Self-Management community by commenting here.

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