Traveling with kids is always challenging, but it can become even more complicated when your child has diabetes. An enjoyable vacation experience can be had with some advance planning and preparation. Discuss travel plans with your child's doctors and other healthcare providers. They will be able to help you work out insulin schedules and food plans that will fit your trip.
If you're using air travel or leaving the country, ask for a letter on the doctor's office letterhead outlining your child's diagnosis and medical treatments. Make several copies and keep them with you; you may be asked about carrying insulin supplies onto the plane, or be checked at customs.
Ask your child's doctor for additional prescriptions for insulin and supplies, too, in case you need to stop at a pharmacy out of town. Carry your insurance cards with you.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Testing strips
- Extra batteries for glucometer and for insulin pump, if using one
- Insulated bag and cold packs to keep insulin cool
- Small packages of carbohydrate snacks and drink boxes
- Bottled water
- Glucagon kit for hypoglycemic reactions
- Ketone testing strips - foil wrapped stay fresher longer
- Zip-lock baggies for carrying supplies that shouldn't get wet
- Extra copies of letter and prescriptions from your child's doctor
- Insurance cards
Bring extra supplies. In fact, bring more than you think you'll need, because you never know what emergency might come up. It's a good idea to have a medical alert bracelet for your child, too.
Besides the above list of items, you can keep a supply of snacks and water bottles in the car. A car parked in the sun can get extremely hot, so consider packing a cooler to keep insulin cold. You may want to carry the insulin with you instead of leaving it in the hot car, especially if you're going to leave it parked for long periods of time.
TRAVEL BY AIR
Call the airline ahead of time, usually at least 24 hours before take-off, to order a special diabetic meal for your child. Always put the insulin in your carry-on luggage. Temperatures in the baggage hold of the airplane are too extreme and will damage the insulin.
Also, carry on your testing supplies, carb snacks, and extra batteries. Keep your letter from your child's doctor handy, in case airline personnel ask about your carry on supplies.
Amusement parks offer some unique challenges. There may be long waits for rides, few healthy food choices, hot temperatures, and other discomforts. Blood sugar levels can easily get out of whack with hot weather and extra activity. Some kids are so excited about being at a park that they run around to the point of exhaustion and don't eat like they should. Bring extra supplies and snacks and test your child often. Keep the insulin and testing supplies in an insulated, water-proof pack and out of the sun as much as possible. Offer bottled water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
Most amusement parks have special services or guest relations staffs that can help make your visit an enjoyable and safe one. Check in at the gate and let personnel know about your needs. Parks often offer special considerations, like allowing you to go to the head of lines, and they can also help you locate food stands, first aid stations, and extra ice to keep your insulated bag cool.
Summer vacations are part of life with kids. With a little advance planning, yours can be a happy, memorable experience.
"When You Travel." American Diabetes Association. ADA. 15 Jun 2007.
"Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes." Diabetes New Zealand. 2006. Diabetes NZ. 15 Jun 2007.