How to Avoid Problems when Traveling with an Insulin Pump

It’s the time of year in the United States for spring breaks. That means there will be lots of travelers in the next few weeks. Florida gets lots of travelers from the south. We love going to the beach and plan on going to Hilton Head in a few weeks to try a new place.

Traveling with kids with diabetes requires extra packing and preparation. Here’s some advice and tips from a mom of two kids on pumps and years of traveling:

  • Take extra supplies!

    • No matter how many days you go, or how prepared you think you are, always take extra! I recommend taking double what you need of infusion sets, reservoirs/cartridges/pods. Plus an extra vial or so of test strips and insulin.
    • Even if you are on a pump, take syringes for backup. You never know when a pump will fail or you need a syringe due to ketones.
    • If you are on a pump, have a back up prescription or a sample of long-acting insulin in case of pump failure.
  • Supplies you may need  (take them, even if you rarely or never use them!)

    • Syringes or pen needles
    • Short and long acting insulin (if on pump at least take a prescription or have one on file at a pharmacy that you can fill)
    • Meter plus extra meter
    • Strips plus extra strips
    • Ketone strips and blood ketone meter
    • Glucagon
    • Snacks
    • Low Blood sugar food
    • High blood sugar liquids (water/sugar free Gatorade)
    • Pump supplies (take double)
    • Alcohol wipes and adhesive wipes
  • Take a Cooler

    • This is probably something everyone takes, but it’s great for keeping an insulin pump cool at the beach and traveling with insulin.
    • Take some ziplock bags to put a pump  in and pop in the cooler. Try not to bury it in the ice, you don’t want the insulin to freeze, just to stay cool.
    • Also great for  low blood sugar snacks.
  • Note from your doctor if flying

    • We have never had to actually show the note, but I think it’s a good idea to have one in case.
    • The note I have and ones we make for our patients at the endo clinic includes:
      • Name, birthday,
      • Diabetes diagnosis
      • Permission to carry on board: syringes/pen needles, insulin, meters, snacks and food, pump supplies, glucagon
  • Wear a medical ID

    • This is important all the time, but especially when traveling.
  • If traveling overseas, request a loaner pump.

    • Most insulin pump companies have a program that provides a loaner pump for backup.
    • Call the company help line and request a loaner.
  • If traveling by plane, do not put all your supplies into one bag.

    • I heard from one mom whose son studies abroad. All his supplies were in a backpack that was stolen.
    • You never know what can happen, or if something doesn’t reach your final destination.
    • I recommend carry-on for all diabetes supplies. If you are traveling with someone else, divide stuff between the bags.
  • If traveling by plane, know the precautions for security with your insulin pump brand.

    • Most pumps can not be exposed to x-ray.
    • Read your pump manual or look online at the pump website for instructions regarding scanners and airport travel.
    • Note that your child may have the pump and his hands swabbed for explosives. This is a common practice.
  • Talk to your doctor or educator about a back up plan.

    • Plan ahead for emergencies.
    • Know your back up plan for pump failure.
    • Know your settings from the pump in case you need to have a pump overnighted and need to set up the new pump.
    • Know what  to give for a long-acting dose or food and correction doses if pump fails.
    • Have your doctor’s phone number.
  • Talk with your doctor about special considerations for the insulin pump with activities.

    • Ask how long the pump can be off and what to do about time on the beach, ski slopes, water park, etc.
      • Some doctors will have you check bg at least every 1-2 hours off pump, give  a correction dose if needed, then take pump back off.
      • Some may want you to give the missed basal by a bolus before taking the pump off.
    • Take into consideration if you are in the car or flying for long periods. Long periods of sitting can result in higher blood sugars. We usually do a temp basal of a slightly higher rate to compensate for inactivity.

 

  • Here’s some additional posts you might want to read about traveling.
  • Traveling with diabetes
  • Traveling for the holidays

What are your tips for traveling with diabetes? Share your experiences below to help out others and be sure to save to Pinterest for later when you need travel tips!

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Author: Carol

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