Travel Tips for traveling with children with diabetes

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Never mind the summer solstice, June 21st this year, official First Day of Summer and longest day of the year. Many people think of Memorial Day as the start of summer and the summer travel season.No doubt you’ve already started to plan your summer trips-vacations, summer camp for the kids, that visit to Grandma’s house…but what do you need to do, and what should you pack, when you’re traveling with diabetes?

These days with tighter security, you’ll want to remember a note from your child’s doctor, but what else? Here are some general tips on how to care for your child’s diabetes when you are away from home.

Take plenty of supplies

Customized cases are available at reasonable prices for carrying insulin, syringes, meter, and other supplies. Some cases even include little ice packs to keep the insulin fresh in hot weather. When you pack the case, put in more than you think your child will need-an extra bottle of insulin, a few more syringes, another vial of test strips. Then you won’t have to worry about running out. Include the logbook, as well.

In addition, keep all diabetes supplies with you and protect them from extremely hot or cold temperatures. Don’t check the bag with the diabetes supplies when you’re flying-take it as carry-on luggage. You may need a note from the doctor to take syringes on board, particularly on international flights.

Check airline regulations ahead of time, or, if you do a lot of traveling, get a note from the doctor and keep it for future travel.

Carry lots of snacks

If your child is just going to a friend’s house for a sleepover, her usual snack supply is probably fine, but if you’re going on a long car or plane trip, stock a backpack with a variety of snacks.

Throw in several extra juice boxes or packs of glucose tablets. Put cheese and crackers into sandwich bags or make a big bag of trail mix. Eating on the road can be unpredictable. You never know how long it will take to get to the next exit with a restaurant or when a meal could be delayed on a plane.

Talk to the doctor about time zone changes

A cross-country plane trip wreaks havoc on any schedule. Before you leave, ask the doctor for guidelines on how to adapt your child’s diabetes schedule to swift time-zone changes. In general, a trip east means a shorter day and less insulin. A trip west means a longer day and more insulin. Check your child’s blood glucose frequently to figure out whether more or less insulin might be needed.

Make sure your child wears a medical ID

It’ s especially important when you’re in an unfamiliar city (without access to your usual health care team) and when your child is not with the family (at a sleepover or summer camp).

Check blood glucose more often

When you’re away from home, it’s harder to stick to a schedule. Frequent blood glucose checking can give you and your child the information you need to make spur-of-the-moment diabetes decisions.

Be careful about syringe and lancet disposal

Take a hard plastic or metal box (like a pencil box) for used syringes and lancets. Wait until you get back home to throw them out.

Educate responsible adults

When your child travels without you — whether to an overnight sleepover or to summer camp — make sure that at least one responsible adult knows how to take care of diabetes. How much they need to know depends on the length of your child’s stay in their care.