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Advice on traveling with children with diabetes

Advice on traveling with children with diabetes


Children with type-1 diabetes can lead a completely normal life without restrictions provided that they follow the established treatment guidelines such as keeping their blood sugar levels monitored regularly and adapting mealtimes and insulin dosage to their own personal circumstances.

When it comes to traveling, you should bear in mind that this represents a change to their routine to a greater or lesser extent. You will need to take certain precautions when transporting both the insulin and test strips and take aspects such as planning mealtimes into consideration.


The first thing you need to do is get a full medical report from your child's diabetes team which details everything about their current treatment and what material you need to take with you. This will avoid any unexpected events and will also help to speed up your passage through customs, for example, if you need to cross a border.

If you are traveling in Europe you can order a European Health Card in advance (for information, see the Social Security website), and you should also get all the information about possible treatment at your destination if you have travel insurance. Everything you can do in advance will make things much easier at the critical moment you may need medical assistance.

It is important to take more material than you need for the trip just in case it has to be extended for any reason. It is also a good idea to take a glucagon rescue kit and ensure you know how to prepare and administer it, along with some fruit juice and cookies to forestall any hypoglycemic episodes (low blood sugar levels).

Everything involved in the transport of insulin and other material must be handled meticulously, and you should remember that insulin deteriorates at temperatures of over 30ºC and under 0ºC, so it is imperative to store it at the very least in an isothermic bag or preferably a small portable fridge to keep the temperature stable. This means that if you are traveling by air you should not check diabetes medication in with your hold luggage due to the low temperatures in the hold.

If you need to get vaccinations before the trip, you should make sure you leave sufficient time for the unlikely event that it causes side effects or has an adverse reaction with the diabetes. You should also give some thought as to what kind of food is eaten in the destination and whether you will be able to find the correct type of food in the right portions for your child.

If you are traveling to another time zone, you should take this into account when adjusting the insulin schedule to the new zone: if you are traveling from east to west, you get more hours in the day, while when traveling from west to east you "lose" hours. It is important to bear this in mind and consult an expert if you are in any doubt.

Finally, when you get back to the regular routine you should adjust to it gradually to avoid any problems; once again, if you have any doubts you should discuss them with your diabetes team.

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