What diabetic travellers need to know and take with them on holiday

A getaway doesn’t need to be taxing for diabetes sufferers – just make sure you’re prepared.

Press Association
Last updated: 16 April 2018 - 2.46pm

Now that spring has truly arrived and the weather’s starting to improve, it’s hard not to start thinking about your next summer holiday. But getting organised for a trip can feel like more stress than fun – and for people living with diabetes, there’s even more to consider.

But don’t let your to-do list put you off booking a getaway – if you plan beforehand and think about what you’ll need to bring, travelling with diabetes can be stress-free.

[Read more: 15 of the best beaches in the world to visit in 2018]

Sue Marshall, the founder and editor of Desang magazine, dedicated to making life for those living with diabetes easier, says: “For the travelling diabetic, overnight stays and short trips should not cause any real anxieties – just remember to take all your normal stuff, including your long-acting insulin.” Longer trips will need some more prep, but these are easy enough as well if you give it some thought ahead of time.


Your first step should be making sure you’ve got enough supplies to last the trip – plus some extra in case any gets lost of damaged. Give yourself at least a couple of weeks before you set off to make sure you have everything you need – that way, you can order anything extra from your GP/pharmacy with plenty of time before you fly. It’s also useful to get a note from your doctor, saying that you’re on medication for diabetes, to take with you when you travel.

Think about what you need to pack


It's here! I'm off to Thailand tomorrow before heading to Vietnam in a few days. I'm travelling with carry on luggage only (a 38 litre backpack) and my diabetes supplies take up half of it! I don't know how long I'll be in Asia for so I've got 4 packs of Gluco Tabs, 2 spare NovoRapid Echo Pens, a Frio Duo Cooling pouch for my handbag to carry my NovoRapid and Lantus pens around, my CareSens N POP BG meter, my Contour Next USB BG meter (I'm switching to Contour but have CareSens strips to use up), 2 Extra Large Frio Cooling pouches for all of my insulin (split in half in case anything happens to one), my Glucagon Emergency Kit, an XS Kathmandu Packing Cube full of test strips, and another XS Kathmandu packing cube full of needles. I think that's the lot! It's so big and weighty, but it's keeping me alive. I'm taking the absolute minimum amount of clothes to compensate (3 t shirts, 2 pairs of long thin pants and 2 pairs of shorts!!) Fingers crossed I have no issues getting this lot through security! (I also have a Doctors letter) #T1D #typeonegrit #type1diabetes #typeonediabetes #typeonediabetic #diabetes #diabetic #lchf #lowcarb #lowcarblifestyle #kathmandu #packingcube #diabetestravel #frio #friocoolingpack

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If you use an insulin injector, you’ll need to pack a lancing device, a blood test meter, insulin pens and cartridges, hypo treatments and needles. For insulin pump users, you’ll also need to bring your infusion sets and inserters and reservoirs – and make sure to pack your pump charger or batteries, too.

Give yourself time at the airport

Getting through security can be a hassle at the best of times. To make the process as painless as possible, make sure you have all your supplies and equipment together in one kit, and that you have it to hand. That way, you’ll be able to show it to someone quickly if they need to take a look.

Declare any liquids at security

If you’re taking liquid hypo treatments, like drinks, gels and syrups, you’ll need to declare them at security and place them into clear plastic bags in your hand luggage. Don’t leave this until the last minute or you’ll end up rushing around – pack them in bags at home, or take dry alternatives such as Glucotabs, if possible. Remember that insulin can’t go in a plane’s cargo hold as it could freeze and become deactivated – so make sure to pack it all in your hand luggage.

Keep your insulin cool


View from the villa day & night #view #kohtao #thailand #villa

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Once you’ve arrived at your hotel or villa, you’ll need to store your insulin safely so you can use it throughout your holiday. Your box or bottle of cartridges will come with an information sheet explaining how to do this, so don’t throw these away. Make sure you store insulin you’re not using in the fridge to keep it cool, and keep it at room temperature if you’re using it.

[Read more: 7 reasons to choose a package holiday this summer]


If you’re travelling with people you don’t know too well, let them know you have diabetes just in case they need to help. It’s also handy to have the address of the British Consulate in the country you’re visiting to hand, in case you need advice and can’t speak the local language. The most important thing to remember, though, is to have fun – if you’ve planned for the trip there should be no need to worry while you’re abroad.

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