In my life, I have been fortunate enough to have several different travel experiences. Despite being a serious homebody, I love having the opportunity to visit new places. Much of my travel (so far) has been international, but I hope to do some more domestic exploration in the next few years because there is so much natural beauty, culture, and diversity within these 50 states that I am anxious to see.
While some may get nervous about traveling because they don’t want to leave their home, their pets, or their own beds, type 1 diabetics have a whole other set of concerns that can make travel seem daunting. Today, I want to share with you some of my top tips for successful travel as a type 1 diabetic.
1. Know before you go
Before I take off on an adventure, I like to research my destination. What is the local cuisine? Are there medical centers in case of an emergency? Will I have access to a refrigerator? These are some of the questions I asked before I toured India for three weeks and before I moved to Uganda for three months.
2.) Don’t forget the obvious
Have you ever gone to a pool party and forgotten your bathing suit? (I did, just last week!) Sometimes, it’s the most obvious factors that we think we can’t possibly overlook that end up getting forgotten. This happened to me before flying to Paris for a three week art course. My parents were driving me from Vermont to Boston to catch my flight when I realized that I had done the unthinkable: left my insulin at home! Fortunately, we were able to fulfill a prescription at a nearby CVS, but I will always remember that feeling of dread.
Since then, I have adapted the strategy of writing a packing list the day before I pack. This way, I am able to write the list from a clear mindset and I can run through the list after packing to be sure I have everything.
3.) Prepare to be prepared
As I mentioned in the first tip, I like to research foods that are native to the place I am visiting. In both India and Africa, the diet is very carb heavy: lots of rice, breads, and starchy vegetables. Knowing this in advance, I packed protein bars and powders to improve my overall nutritional balance. I also stocked up on my favorite items for treating lows. When I am away from home, I find the fruit snacks are easy to transport and are quite effective in raising my blood sugar.
Even in my most recent trip to Calgary or on my family trip to Florida last spring, I brought my favorite nuts and granola bars. Knowing that I have a healthy snack at all times lessens the natural anxieties that can arise when operating outside of the normal routine. In Calgary, our meal times were much later than I am accustomed to, so having a granola bar to nibble on in the morning and early evening allowed me to adjust to the different schedule without upsetting my blood sugars.
4.) Embrace the unknown
No matter how much you plan, pack, and prepare, there will always be some element of unknown when taking a trip. Spontaneity is part of what makes traveling so exciting, fun, and refreshing. Accept that there may be surprises along the way and remember that these experiences are an important part of your life’s journey!
For some specific tips on getting through airport security, read the article below from Beyond Type 1 and check back here for a specific post on what my go-to portable goodies are- for going to a foreign country or just out in your own neighborhood- and my number one recommendation for saving money on healthy snacks!