Think You Can’t Travel With Diabetes?

Sure, you can travel if you have diabetes! But you’ll need to plan, prepare and pack a bit differently than usual. As with managing diabetes in general, being ready is your key to success.


Once you decide your destination and dates of travel, you should meet with your health care provider to discuss your current diabetes care and what changes are needed for the trip.

When you see your provider, ask for a letter to carry with you that includes your health history, present treatment and an updated list of your medications. It is also a good idea to have written prescriptions for your medications and supplies in case you lose them or run out. If you are going to a location for which you need immunizations, it is best to get them at least one month before your trip so you can be over any side effects by the time you leave. If you are on insulin and will change time zones in your travels, discuss how to handle the timing of your insulin doses with your health care provider.

Decide early on how strict you want to be about your diabetes care. If you have had tight control, do you plan to maintain that on your trip or are you going to let loose a bit? Remember, it doesn’t take long or much for those numbers to rise. You will feel better if your blood glucose is in your target range.


No matter how you’re planning to travel, there’s plenty to carry along. So, choose your luggage accordingly.

If traveling by car, keep a bag in the car with you. You’ll want to avoid temperature extremes and have your supplies nearby, should you need them right away—so don’t keep them in the trunk or the glove compartment. A cooler to store your supplies is helpful in hot weather. Remember, if you are driving and take insulin, you should make sure your blood glucose is above 100 mg/mL. Check your blood glucose every one to two hours to make sure it is in your target zone. If it is not, stop and take action immediately.

If traveling by plane, you’ll definitely need a carry-on bag. You don’t want to go to San Francisco and have your supplies end up in Kalamazoo. Getting through security is hard enough these days, even if you don’t have lancets or syringes. So, if you take insulin, keep it in the box and bring along a copy of a recent prescription so that you can prove it’s yours. For the latest guidelines, check with the American Diabetes Association at:

800-342-2383, or

Plan your seating arrangements early. An aisle seat gives you more room, allows you to get out and move around easier and makes it easier to get to your supplies. Have some supplies with you or stowed under the seat in front of you. You wouldn’t want to have a reaction and need to get your treatment from an overhead bin, especially if you are in a window seat.

If traveling by boat, your main concern is to prevent motion sickness. Have medication available at all times, even if you normally do not have this problem. You never know if and when it will happen.


Even after you reach your destination, continue to keep your medications and supplies available. Always wear identification and carry supplies with you. Continue to choose your foods wisely and eat healthfully.

How active will you be? On some trips, you may be more active and on others, you may relax more. Changes in activity will impact your blood glucose levels. Be prepared for lows, highs and medication adjustments, if needed.

Foot problems often happen when traveling. Many people wear new shoes and/or are more active. This is not the best time to break in new shoes, and it is never a good time to go barefoot. Bring at least two pairs of comfortable, protective shoes. Check your feet regularly. This way, if you notice changes, you can take care of them right away.

When you go home, you may be tired and it may be difficult to adjust to your old routine. It doesn’t just happen on its own. You will need to be as careful and determined as you were when planning your trip. Yes, it takes some planning, but you can go, have a great time and stay healthy if you plan, prepare and stay conscious of the demands of your diabetes.


  • Letter and prescriptions from health care provider
  • Food that fits your meal plan. When traveling, you never know what is available or where you will be. Prepackaged nuts, cheese sticks, fruit, cheese or peanut butter and crackers and bottled water travel well.
  • Medications and supplies. Take twice as much as you think you need. This would include your pills, insulin, syringes, meter, strips, hypoglycemia treatment, anti-diarrhea and anti-nausea medications, container to dispose of your needles and antibiotic ointment. Remember, avoid extreme temperatures. (People who use insulin pumps will also need to always have these things in case of pump problems.)
  • ID to wear at all times
  • At least two pairs of comfortable and protective shoes that fit well
  • A positive, can-do attitude!
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Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN—an award-winning RD, certified diabetes educator, and past national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is the author of The African American Guide to Living Well With Diabetes, which received the Favorably Reviewed designation from the American Association of Diabetes Educators, and Eating Soulfully and Healthfully with Diabetes.

Dr. Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, CLC, the best-selling author of “Fire-Up Your Fat Burn! and leading health and weight loss expert, is also known as “The Inflammation Terminator.” She has made it her mission to educate the public on the toxic effects of certain foods and lifestyle choices and how they create inflammation in the body. She is a leading authority on inflammation and its role in weight loss, preventing disease and optimizing health.

Rebecca Bitzer – MS, RD/LD, CEDRD is an award-winning Registered Dietitian, writer, speaker, blogger, and REBEL Dietitian business owner. Rebecca and her team of six Registered Dietitians have counseled thousands of clients struggling with diabetes for over twenty-five years. They work closely with each other along with internists, endocrinologists, therapists, and families.

Maureen Sullivan – RN, CDE has worked for many years as a Registered Nurse, most of them in emergency and trauma services. She is a Certified Emergency Nurse, Certified Diabetes Educator, and the former manager of a hospital stroke program. Maureen’s wealth of knowledge, passion for nursing and education, and ability to engage people makes her an excellent teacher and a captivating lecturer. Recently, Maureen has been concentrating on writing, speaking and teaching, as well as working on her award-winning weekly podcast, “The Health and Humor Show.”

Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN is a nutrition communications specialist, registered dietitian in private practice, social media consultant, speaker, spokesperson and corporate consultant. She is currently the owner of Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC and Lauren strongly believes that we should “Think Healthy, not Skinny”, and “EveryBODY is unique, your diet should be too”. Lauren was co-host of the Family Food Experts Kitchen radio show, available for listening on iHeart Radio and iTunes. Also known as one of the “NutritionBabes”, Lauren co-founded, a popular Health and Wellness website in 2009. was voted one of Healthline’s Top 100 Health Blogs in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Mark Heyman, PhD, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and the director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health (CDMH). In addition to treating patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Heyman provides training for health care providers on how to identify and address the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes in their patients. He also works with pharmaceutical and medical device companies to help them understand these issues and incorporate this information into their sales, marketing, and patient education materials. He is particularly interested in empirically supported behavioral interventions that promote behavior change and improve physical and mental health in people with diabetes.

Katie Ferraro, MPH, RD, CDE is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and author with an expertise in nutrition communications and curriculum development. She is the co-author of “Diet Therapy in Advanced Practice Nursing” (McGraw Hill, 2014) and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California San Francisco and University of San Diego’s graduate schools of nursing.

Dr. Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE (aka “Dr. Bev”) is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator, author and speaker. She specializes treating the emotional issues of people with diabetes. In her private practice, she provides individual, family and/or group therapy utilizing a cognitive behavior therapy orientation, combined with a spiritual approach. Her goal is to empower her patients to manage their diabetes.

Dr. Bev is the author of two self-help diabetes books. She has written numerous articles which are published in print and online – always focused on diabetes from the emotional perspective. She also speaks to audiences of people living with diabetes, as well as, to audiences of healthcare professionals and diabetes educators. Dr. Bev, herself, has been living successfully with type 1 diabetes for 40+ years.

In August 2016, Dr. Bev was honored to receive the “CDE Entrepreneur of the Year” Award from her Metropolitan NY Association of Diabetes Educators.

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND is an internationally recognized nutrition and diabetes expert with more than two decades experience. Through writing, speaking and one-on-one coaching, Jill empowers people to grab control of their health. She has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is known for her practical approach and caring attitude. Her no-nonsense strategies to eating well include foods that both taste good and are good for you.

Marlene Koch (pronounced ‘cook’) is a nationally recognized nutritionist, popular TV personality and New York Times bestselling author. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science. She is a registered dietitian and one of a select group of dietitians to hold an advanced certificate in Child and Adolescent Weight Management from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

Marlene has taught professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation the principles of healthy cooking and eating. She has been adjunct Nutrition professor and cooking instructor for Columbus State College and the Columbus State Culinary Academy, and she is a nationally recognized expert in weight loss, diabetes, child and adolescent nutrition, and sugar substitutes.

Marlene has sold over one million cookbooks, and is a regular guest on QVC.

Barbara Ruhs – MS, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Neighborhood Nutrition LLC, a consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help food companies and supermarkets improve consumer health & wellness. She’s a former supermarket dietitian and has run a successful business for 17 years. A leader in the field of nutrition, her mission is to help people by impacting the way food is produced, marketed and sold. She’s a strong advocate for supermarket dietitians and believes the retail food industry has the greatest potential to impact public health.

Cheryl Orlansky has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and management. Her first career as a registered dental hygienist led her towards a path of wellness and nutrition! Her expertise is in diabetes, weight management and cardiovascular disease for individuals and groups. She works in a large private practice including endocrinology, internal medicine, rheumatology, neurology and sleep medicine. She is an award winning dietitian with current leadership positions in state and local dietetics organizations.

She has been interviewed and quoted in media outlets for WebMD, Atlanta Sports and Fitness, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. She has partnered with V-103 Radio to lead supermarket tours as part of a community outreach during National Nutrition Month.

Cheryl helps her clients reach balance through lifestyle choices: cooking and eating, activity and purpose in life.

Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and classically-trained chef. With a passion for helping people (including her father) with diabetes, she’s author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook, both published by the American Diabetes Association. Jackie is also author of 1,000 Low-Calorie Recipes and Big Green Cookbook. Her next book, The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook—2nd Edition, was published in 2015.

Nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH is the author of the best-selling book, The One One One Diet. She holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and is also a Wellcoaches Certified Health and Wellness Coach endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

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