Travel checklist to ease your worries
Don't let diabetes hold you back from enjoying your
holiday or business travels.
Being prepared and having some safety strategies in place can
ensure the best travel experiences with a minimum of adverse
effects. Travelling overseas with different time zones, climates,
foods and hygiene standards can be successfully managed with
pre-trip advice from your doctor or diabetes educator.
The following checklist can help you to be well-prepared for
Discuss plans with GP
- Have a thorough check up with your GP before your travels and
ask for some extra scripts. Remember that to go through Customs you
must carry multiple copies of all your scripts and a GP letter
which outlines your medical condition/s. Scripts should include
your name, the name and type of your medication and your doctor's
contact details. The GP letter should state your medical
conditions, medications you require and the devices you use for
your insulin and blood glucose testing.
- Discuss time zone changes and how to adjust medication, ensure
that you have a record of relevant and up to date vaccinations and
discuss a sick day management plan.
Medications and insulin
- Make sure you check your blood glucose levels regularly while
on your journey. Talk to your diabetes educator for guidance on
taking medications over different time zones.
- Ensure that you have more than enough medication for your
entire trip and in case you are delayed or stay longer than
- It is advisable to check if your medication is available at
your destination and whether Australia has a reciprocal health
agreement with overseas destinations: www.humanservices.gov.au
Remember to carry your Medicare card
- Ask about your airline's regulations on carrying diabetes
supplies. It is recommended to carry testing equipment, insulin and
Glucagon delivery in personal hand luggage as luggage in the hold
freezes. Ideally, pack medications in two separate carry-on bags in
case one goes missing.
- There are also Australian airline regulations about carrying
sharps so do your research before you travel. A website called
safesharps.org.au is a helpful resource to find safe disposal for
sharps. Include a small approved sharps container, available from
your pharmacy. Check if your hotels and airports offer a sharps
disposal service for used lancets and syringes.
- If you are travelling to a place which has variable
temperatures a cool pack is recommended for storage of medication
and equipment. Insulin can be stored at room temperature (15-25
deg) for 28 days. If you are travelling for longer than 28 days
then extra supplies should be kept at refrigerator temperatures in
a suitable cool pack.
- It is wise to carry a hypo kit containing fast and slow acting
carbohydrates and a basic first aid kit to treat minor ailments
such as cuts and abrasions.
- If necessary, check with your airline to see if electronic
devices used for monitoring blood glucose or infusing insulin can
be operated in-flight.
- People who need to carry supplies of insulin will be asked to
present the insulin at Customs and show proof of their condition
and need for insulin. Overseas flight travel requires, along with
your GP letters, other identification that indicates you have
- The NDSS card is accepted as primary proof that if you use
insulin to manage your diabetes then you need to carry your
- Additional photographic proof of identify, such as a driver's
license or passport may also be required. In case of emergency it
is useful to carry at all times a list of contact numbers for your
health team and insulin company (if required).
- It is recommended that you take extra supplies such as a spare
blood glucose meter, lancets, pen needles, insulin pen, blood
glucose strips, extra batteries, sharps container, ketone strips,
sensors (if required).
- You may require extra carbohydrates during your travel,
especially if travelling by plane. Consider packing some extra
carbohydrate snacks you can easily access and also you will be
prepared in case of long delays. When booking your flights, you can
tell the airline you have dietary requests or choose pre-cooked
meals low in saturated fat and high in fibre and carbohydrate.
- Research food availability at your destination so that you know
where to find healthy food options.
- Choose and book a travel insurance that provides adequate cover
for your particular health condition/s and activities.
This seems like a long list but planning and preparation will
ensure your safety and well-being.
Enjoy your journey.