When you have diabetes, and especially when you are on insulin therapy, travelling can be challenging and stressful. Travelling can disrupt your daily routine when there are changes in time zones, food choices as well as your usual physical activity.

"Despite the challenges, diabetes should not stop you from travelling. It’s best to prepare well and in advance of your trip so that you can keep well during your time away from home," say nurses from the Department of Specialty Nursing at the Singapore General Hospital, a member of the SingHealth group.

Pre-departure planning tips

Pre-departure planning is essential to ensure that you are fit and adequately prepared for travelling.

  1. Consult the doctor managing your diabetes before you travel

    Visit your doctor before you travel to discuss your holiday plans. An early visit to your doctor can help you get the medical advice, medication and travel memos you need for a more pleasant vacation.

    Ensure the following:

    • Check that your blood glucose levels are under control
    • Ensure you have sufficient medications for your trip
    • If you are planning special activities, check with your doctor that it is safe to do so, and clarify any questions you may have on how to optimally manage your glucose levels during these activities.
  2. Get these travel documents from your doctor:

    • Doctor’s travel memo
    • A travel memo is a letter from your doctor that says:

      • You have diabetes, and
      • You must hand-carry medications such as insulin and medical supplies such as syringes, insulin pens, glucometer, and other consumables onboard to manage your diabetes
    • Medical memo and prescription

      It is also good to have a copy of your prescription in case of unforeseen circumstances overseas. Bring extra supplies of medications and consumables in case your insulin pen is broken or in case the insulin becomes unusable due to extreme temperatures.

  3. Check time zone and weather differences, nearest hospital and insurance

    • Changing time zones can affect the timing for administering insulin, especially basal insulin. Remember to set an alarm so that basal insulin is administered on time. If you are uncertain about insulin timing changes, ask your doctor before you leave.
    • Weather differences can affect the storage of your insulin and glucometer.
    • Check out the locations of hospitals nearby.
    • Ensure that your travel or medical insurance covers diabetes-related emergencies.

See next page for an essential diabetes packing checklist.

Ref: O17