Having diabetes should not prevent you from travelling and enjoying your holidays.
Planning ahead is key to having a great time away and dealing with any potential problems with your diabetes.
Health experts advise preparing for a trip 4 to 6 weeks before you travel.
What will I need if I travel with diabetes?
Carry your diabetes ID and a letter from your GP, which says you have diabetes and the medication you need to treat it if you are carrying insulin or another injectable medication.
Things to consider as part of your preparation include:
- medicines and travel vaccines
- travel insurance
- air travel
Food and diabetes
Whether you’re at home or abroad, make sure you still eat healthily.
You should be able to choose foods from local menus and still eat a balanced diet.
If you’re flying to your destination, airlines can provide information on the times of most meals so you can plan your insulin.
It’s best to order the standard meal, though this may not supply you with enough carbohydrate if you are on insulin or certain diabetes tablets, so pack some healthy snacks.
Blood glucose is measured differently from the UK in some countries. See Diabetes UK’s blood glucose conversion chart.
Medicines and travel vaccines
Bring twice the quantity of medical supplies you would normally use for your diabetes.
Find out where you can get supplies of insulin at your destination in case of emergency.
See your GP or diabetes specialist for information on travel jabs and how the local weather and changing time zones can affect your condition.
Diabetes shouldn’t affect what vaccinations you have, but it’s worth asking your doctor if certain jabs could disrupt your diabetes control and how you should manage this.
Travelling to a hot or cold climate may affect how your insulin and blood glucose monitor work.
Travel insurance for diabetes
For travel in Europe, make sure you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This entitles you to reduced-cost and, sometimes, free medical treatment.
Also take out travel insurance – an EHIC may not cover all the costs of your treatment. An EHIC doesn’t cover the cost of being flown back to the UK.
If you are using an EHIC issued by the UK, this will still be valid until the UK leaves the EU.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare when visiting an EU country is likely to change. If you are planning to visit after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance so you can get the healthcare treatment you need, just as you would if visiting a non-EU country.
The government always advises UK citizens to take out travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU destinations. Make sure that any insurance product you buy has the necessary healthcare coverage to ensure you can get any treatment you need.
Make sure you declare all your medical conditions, including your diabetes. Making a mistake or omission could result in a claim being refused.
Find out more about getting travel insurance from Diabetes UK.
Air travel with diabetes
Contact your airline several weeks before travelling to discuss medical devices you intend to take on board the aircraft, such as a pump or glucose monitor.
If you use an insulin pump, contact the device manufacturer, the airline and the airport for advice about going through airport screening equipment, such as X-ray machines.
Bring a letter from your GP explaining your need to carry syringes or injection devices, insulin and any other medication.
Some GPs charge for writing a letter. If you travel frequently, ask them to write it in such a way that it can be used more than once.
Carry all your diabetes medicines as hand luggage in case your checked-in bags go missing or your medicines are damaged in the baggage hold.