Travel & Insulin

Getting Ready

Before a long trip, it is advisable to have a medical exam to make sure your diabetes is in good control. Schedule the exam with enough time to work on your control before your depart.

Packing Tips

Pack at least twice as much medication and blood-testing supplies as you think you need. Pack at least half in your carry-on bag so that your medication is always with you.

Whether you travel by car, plane, boat, bike, or foot, you will want to keep this "carry-on" bag with you at all times. Pack this bag with:

  • all the insulin and syringes you will need for the trip
  • blood testing supplies (include extra batteries for your glucose meter)
  • all oral medications (an extra supply is good)
  • other medications or medical supplies, such as anti-diarrhea medication, antiseptic ointment, anti-nausea drugs
  • a well-wrapped, air-tight snack pack of crackers or cheese, peanut butter, fruit, a juice box, and some form of sugar (hard candy or glucose tablets) to treat low blood glucose

In the Air



When you fly, you can request a special meal low in sugar, fat or cholesterol. Make your request at least two days before the flight. If you take insulin, wait until you see your food coming down the aisle before you take the shot. Otherwise, a delay in the meal could lead to low blood glucose. To be safe, always carry some food with you. If your meal is delayed or an order is mixed up, you won't be stuck with an empty stomach.

Wear comfortable shoes and never go barefoot. Check your feet every day. You should look out for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling and scratches. Get medical care at the first sign of infection or inflammation.


When you travel with insulin, give some thought to where you will be storing your supplies. Insulin does not need to be refrigerated. But insulin stored in very hot or very cold temperatures may lose strength. Do not store your insulin in the glove compartment or trunk of your car. Backpacks and cycle bags can get quite hot in the direct sunlight. If you plan to travel by car or bike or to be out in the elements, take steps to protect your insulin. Many travel packs are available to keep your insulin cool.

If you are using vial insulin, talk to your health care provider about converting to a more convenient pen form for the duration of travel.

Watch what you eat and drink when travelling. Avoid tap water overseas. This includes ice cubes made from tap water. Ask for a list of ingredients for unfamiliar foods. Some food may upset your stomach and hurt your diabetes control. However, you may also find food that give you a healthy taste of culture.

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