Travel is picking back up, trips are being planned, and vacations are being taken. Whether you’re headed on a quick weekend road trip, cross-country excursion, or going international, planning what to pack can be a bit of a headache when living with type 1 diabetes. I’ve put together my type 1 diabetes travel packing list that helps me prepare for my upcoming excursions.
How much insulin should I take?
What supplies should I bring?
How often will I have to change my CGM?
What snacks can I bring on the plane?
DO I EVEN HAVE ROOM FOR ALL OF THIS?!
If you’re anything like me, you probably stress about what to pack for a few days prior, make a bunch of lists, and then throw everything in a bag and hope for the best. We are no longer playing this guessing game! We are being proactive, we are being organized, and we are having a stress-free T1D vacation, ok!!
No matter what your diabetes ~ situation ~ looks like (pumps, pens, vials, etc), my philosophy on how I pack when I travel will help organize your diabetes into a packable and stress-free situation.
MY Type 1 Diabetes TRAVEL PACKING PHILOSOPHY
Pack as if you will be traveling for (at least) twice as long as your planned trip. That means if you’re going on a weekend trip, bring about a week’s worth of supplies. If you’re going for a week, pack supplies to last for two weeks, and if you’re going abroad for a month, pack enough to last you for two months.
This will allow you a buffer of supplies in case you go through them a bit faster or are stuck at your location for a bit longer. Now, this is my ~ general ~ rule of thumb. Depending on my destination (humid and hot vs. winter weather), or how I plan on spending my days (hiking vs. lounging on the beach), I may adjust specific supplies accordingly (bringing backup CGMs, etc). Now let’s dive into my overall packing list before getting more granular by destination, etc.
MY TYPE 1 DIABETES TRAVEL PACKING LIST
- Insulin Pens – Short and Long-Acting (I will always bring at least one backup insulin pen per type even on short weekend trips)
- Insulin Pen Needles
- Dexcom CGM Sensors
- Dexcom CGM Transmitter Info (Have a picture of it on your phone just in case)
- Dexcom CGM Transmitter (I will only carry a new transmitter with me if my current one is set to expire within the next three weeks)
- Skin Grip Device Tape (Use code CUPOFOJ for 10% off your purchase)
- Alcohol wipes
- Back-up Glucose Meter
- Test Strips
- Extra Lancets for Meter
- Back-up Battery for Meter
- Back-up Syringes (In case there’s an issue with the pens)
- Medical Alert Bracelet (I always wear mine but I still consider it an item to bring with you!)
- Frio Insulin Cooling Sleeve (I bring this along on all summer trips no matter the location)
- Snacks and Snacks and Snacks and Snacks – (I always pack fast-acting sugars like fruit snacks or dried mangos for lows and complex carbohydrates like protein bars for mid-meal snacking or blood sugar stabilization after a low)
- Optional: Doctor’s Note (I like to make sure to bring a doctor’s note to the airport if I am traveling internationally, although I have never had an issue bringing my diabetes supplies with me on the plane).
~ * Your list will obviously look a bit different if you use an insulin pump, use insulin vials, don’t have a CGM, etc. This list is simply an outline to assist you when packing and organizing your diabetes supplies for a trip. You know your diabetes best so please pack any other belongings that you feel necessary to bring on your trip. * ~
THINGS I CONSIDER WHEN PACKING
When putting together my type 1 diabetes travel packing list for a trip, my destination impacts the number of supplies I bring with me. If I am going to a hot and humid destination, I will pack an extra Dexcom CGM sensor or two, and make sure I have plenty of Skin Grip device tape on hand. Hot and humid weather means I’ll probably be breaking a sweat, which makes it easier for my CGM tape to pull up and potentially fall off. Bringing additional device tapes can save me from a wasted sensor (and wasted $$$ if you know what I mean). I will also make sure to bring my Frio Insulin Cooling Sleeve to keep my insulin pens cool anytime we aren’t in contact with air conditioning and/or a fridge.
If I am heading to a cooler climate or a higher elevation, I normally bring an additional short-acting insulin pen. I’ve learned that my insulin doesn’t work as well when my body is cold or at a higher elevation. I don’t use THAT much more insulin, but it’s something I consider when taking a winter trip.
In addition to destination, I also take into consideration our planned activities when packing for the trip. If we will be active the entire time, I’m making sure I OVERLOAD on the number of snacks I bring (both low snacks and regular snacks), especially if there won’t be options to buy many snacks when we get there. If I will be hanging out in the pool or ocean for the majority of my trip, I will bring extra Dexcom CGM sensors and Skin Grip CLEAR tape (it’s hands down the best waterproof tape I’ve ever used) just in case.
Access is another factor that I consider when packing for a trip. Am I going to a place with a pharmacy nearby? Will I have access to a grocery store? Can I get additional supplies if needed? If the answer to any of those questions is no, I will stock up on those supplies, snacks, etc. If the answer to those questions is yes, I feel a bit better about not bringing a backup battery for my meter or enough snacks to last the entire duration. Plan ahead!
Looking for more info? Check out my post about Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes for more tips on what to expect at the airport, managing blood sugars out of your normal routine, and navigating a new destination with T1D.
I hope you enjoyed some insight on how I prepare for travel while also living my life as a very cool and very fun type one diabetic. If you’re new here, I’m Ariana! I offer a fresh take on living with diabetes through fun low carb cocktail recipes, my t1d art shop, and a brand new youtube channel. Thanks for stopping by! ◡̈ ☆