Traveling With Mealtime Insulin

  • portrait of unidentified woman in airport terminal waiting for gate to open
    Traveling with Mealtime Insulin
    If you have diabetes, you may have a mealtime insulin routine you follow at home to monitor your blood sugar, administer your medication, and stay healthy. But what if you’re traveling? It can be difficult to maintain your normal mealtime insulin routine when you’re away from home. However, with a little planning, sticking with mealtime insulin while you’re on the road is possible.

  • female traveler eating snack in airport terminal with friends
    1. Try to maintain your routine.
    Travel brings you out of your comfort zone and exposes you to different ways of living. Even though your schedule and activities are likely to be different during your trip, you should try to stick to your meal schedule as closely as possible. Mealtime insulin adherence is a huge part of maintaining healthy blood sugar, and staying on schedule helps your blood glucose levels stay balanced throughout the day.

  • A glaucometer insulin pen and blood test devices used to monitor blood glucose levels for diabetics in travel suitcase
    2. Be sure to pack extra supplies.
    There’s no telling what can happen when you travel. That’s why it’s important to pack extra supplies for managing your diabetes. Mealtime insulin can be hard to stick with if you don’t have your blood glucose monitor, test strips, or syringes. The American Diabetes Association recommends packing at least twice as many supplies as you think you’ll need for your trip. That way, if something gets lost, you have back-ups and can still take your mealtime insulin.

  • gettyimages 957155276
    3. Keep your supplies close at hand.
    Be sure to keep your mealtime insulin supplies with you at all times. If you travel by air, take your supplies in your carry-on luggage, since checked bags can get lost. And don’t worry about liquid limits–people with diabetes are allowed to take larger amounts of insulin on the plane once they’ve been screened by X-ray or hand inspection. When you’re packing, place all your diabetes supplies, including insulin, in a clear plastic bag separate from other items, and bring your prescriptions or a doctor’s note with you to speed along the security process. Before entering the security line, let a TSA agent know you have insulin and other diabetes equipment with you. It’s also a good idea to invest in an insulated travel pack that keeps your insulin cool, as insulin exposed to high temperatures may lose strength over time.

  • closeup of doctor's hand passing note to patient
    4. Carry a doctor’s note.
    If you use mealtime insulin, carrying a doctor’s note with you while traveling can help clear up any confusion or concern about your mealtime insulin routine. The note helps explain the purpose of your insulin to others and should include information about blood glucose testing and insulin administration at mealtimes. Ask your doctor to include a list of your mealtime insulin supplies, including which medications you use to treat your condition.

  • Couple using laptop
    5. Research your food options.
    It’s not always possible to plan your meals when you travel. However, researching local restaurants and grocery stores can help you determine where healthier food options may be serves. Also, it may be possible to view nutrition information—including carbohydrate amounts—on restaurant websites. If you can preplan the total amount of carbs you’ll eat, you can plan for how much insulin to use at mealtimes.

  • closeup Of woman's hand using glucometer to check blood sugar levels on table
    6. Test your blood sugar more frequently.
    Blood glucose levels may fluctuate more while you’re traveling, so it can be helpful to test your blood glucose levels before and after meals, especially if you’re not sure how many carbohydrates are in the foods you’re eating. Testing more frequently helps you identify foods that may spike your levels. It also allows you to see how your body responds to the foods you’re eating while you’re away.

  • pensive businesswoman looking out airport terminal window
    7. Have a plan for treating low blood sugar.
    Despite your best intentions, you may not be able to follow your normal mealtime insulin routine while you’re traveling. Since meals may be delayed or even skipped, it’s important that you have a plan for treating low blood sugar. In addition to your mealtime insulin supplies, be sure to pack healthy snacks, such as trail mix, peanut butter crackers, or fruit. You can also pack hard candies or glucose tablets to use in case of a low blood glucose emergency.

Traveling With Mealtime Insulin | Mealtime Insulin Adherence

About The Author

Sarah Handzel began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
  1. When You Travel. American Diabetes Association.
  2. Have Diabetes, Will Travel. American Association of Diabetes Educators.
  3. Diabetes and Travel – 10 Tips for a Safe Trip. Joslin Diabetes Center.
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2019 Feb 18
Explore Diabetes
Recommended Reading
Health Spotlight
Next Up
Answers to Your Health Questions
Trending Videos