Key Considerations for a T1D International Traveler

With Summer rapidly approaching and along with it the travel season, we wanted to hear about a recent trip abroad that guest contributor, Julia Flaherty, took and her experience traveling with T1D.

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel abroad to Paris, France, and London, England, for an 8-day excursion I’ll never forget. I love experiencing new cultures and becoming as immersed as possible, so setting this up through EF Ultimate Break provided me exactly what I wanted out of a vacation: a whole lot of culture, a group of wonderful new friends, jam-packed touring, and an obnoxious amount of pictures I’ll never part with …

As a person managing type 1 diabetes and traveling abroad for the first time, though I have traveled nationally many times in the past 4-5 years for both leisure and business, I had few apprehensions. I am a very well self-managed person, though I consulted with my endocrinologist before departing. I didn’t want any medical surprises while overseas or before at the airport. I read several articles via Beyond Type 1 on the topic to see if other T1D community members ran into issues while abroad. Information is power! The only medical happenstance I didn’t anticipate was catching a gnarly cold, but, luckily, I was able to find some natural cold medicine and Vitamin C boost at a local pharmacy in Paris, France. It didn’t stop me. If T1D doesn’t, certainly a cold won’t, right?

Something I didn’t anticipate however, was how the jet lag would affect my blood sugar levels. They were thrown mostly out of whack, only kept at bay due to our busy days where we, on average, walked 7 miles per day. I realized after the first 2 nights, I had to take my Basaglar (my nighttime insulin) at a different time than I did at home, though, at home it was the “right” time, and abroad it was “wrong”. (Factor in the time difference, and you’ll know what I mean.) Surprisingly, you don’t need a doctor’s note to carry your insulin, pen needles, or CGM abroad (through the security system or customs). According to the Transportation Security Administration(TSA), diabetes supplies are allowed in check baggage and in carry ons with special instructions.  They ask you notify the TSA officer that you have diabetes and are carrying your supplies with you. Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin, and insulin in any form or dispenser must be clearly identified.

I made sure to also have my doctor’s phone number stored in my phone and written down in case I was incapacitated, as well as my pharmacy and emergency contact phone number. My diabetic tag was attached to my purse at all times (in case my T1D tattoo isn’t obvious), and I always had a snack and glucose tablets on me in case I hit a low.

Overall, I say there is absolutely nothing to be fearful of while traveling nationally or internationally! You should feel empowered. I hope you do – that’s how I felt and feel about accomplishing while managing T1D. All you can do is be prepared, and, if anything comes up, the best thing you can do for yourself is manage it with calm and confidence. Stress only makes the situation worse. Life is all about your mentality, and, as a person managing T1D like me, I hope you understand that philosophy best. We can all live wonderful lives with the condition, so long as we approach it with a healthy perspective. We can’t choose this problem we have, but we can choose to approach it with patience, calm, comfort, and peace.

This, of course, goes for anyone – T1D or not. Life is all about your attitude and approach. I like to live by the quote, “Life is 10% what happens to you, 90% how you react.” The only limits you have are those you set for yourself, so, go ahead – fly away little T1D birds! You can do it – you can do anything.

And, on an unrelated T1D note, I hope you visit The Palace of Versailles, Oxford, The Louvre, and Musee d’Orsay if you do a London and Paris excursion like me. These are just a few of the places we visited, but among my favorites. Enjoy, and live well. Wishing you the best in your T1D management.

Julia Flaherty

Professional Writer, Editor, and Marketer, Brand Developer, and Digital and Social Media Strategist with a special passion for Health Advocacy, helping to spread awareness for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and advocate for lower insulin costs. #insulin4all | |