Advice for Staying Healthy and Managing Diabetes While Traveling
As fun and exciting as travel can be, it almost always causes disruptions to your existing routines. Most notably, these include eating, exercise, and sleep schedules - all things that are essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For people with diabetes though, these are more than just minor disruptions and so it's important to consider ways to maintain your routine and plan for those inevitable disruptions before it becomes a major issue needing immediate attention.
As a bigger guy who has been told that he is "at risk" of developing diabetes and who has family and in-laws with diabetes I understand how important it is to maintain a healthy routine, and so here's some tips to help stay healthy and manage your diabetes while traveling ...
Planning ahead is key here, especially if you are flying where you may not have food aside from snacks that you'll want to avoid such as cookies. I'm not going to cover all the different diabetes-friendly snack options here, but the important part is that you bring a couple different options so you can manage your blood sugar appropriately. When you pack, make sure you consider the impact of flight and traffic delays as that will also affect your diet.
Similarly, while most airlines serve bottled water, it's a good idea to bring your own as well. I personally try to always travel with a refillable bottle that I top off at the filtered water stations found in most airports. This is MUCH more affordable than buying an overpriced bottle once you pass through security.
Keep Your Supplies Convenient
If you are traveling by car, this is easier but when traveling by plane make sure to have your supplies including glucometers, strips, medications, and insulin available in your carryon bags. While most liquids are not allowed, diabetes-related supplies, equipment and medications are allowed through TSA checkpoints after screening. Similarly, cool packs required to keep medications cool are also allowed but must be kept separate from your bag during the screening process and explicitly declared as being for your medications or insulin.
It's critical that you keep your exercise routine - even if that just means walking around your hotel parking lot a couple times. Like everything though, be safe - if you don't feel comfortable outside, you could walk the halls of your hotel building or even up and down the stairs. Be sure though to maintain the CDC's recommended 150 minutes or more of physical activity each week.
Additionally, while one the plane, make sure to move around every couple hours to help prevent blood clots. This could be standing up and walking to the restroom, or even just flexing your feet and legs helps keep blood moving.
Other Health Tips for Traveling With Diabetes
Keep your hands clean by washing them often with soap and water. This will help prevent infections and other dangers since you may be exposed to an increased number of contagions as you travel through different places.
Protect your feet - be especially careful in hot or cold environments and avoid hot surfaces like pools and hot sand on the beach unless you are wearing good shoes.
Make sure to have all of your immunizations up to date and if you are going on a trip where there will be significant amounts of physical activity beyond walking, make sure to consult your doctor. Your doctor may have additional information to help you plan your medicine, food, and activity to ensure that you have a safe and fun trip.
- Written by James Hills
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