If you take insulin as part of managing type 2 diabetes, you might feel that your routine is important. You may need to take a set amount of insulin one or more times a day and adjust your insulin dose based on what you eat.

Taking insulin according to your individual plan can be a big part of taking care of yourself. But some days, it may feel difficult. It can seem like a juggling act to balance:

  • food
  • activity
  • blood sugar checks
  • medications

When you travel, you may encounter new challenges. It can be harder to keep a consistent routine. There may be unfamiliar foods and more variable meal timing. You may be more or less active than usual. You may also be crossing time zones.

Even with all of that, it’s still possible to keep up your insulin routine while away from home. Here are some tips to help you stay on track while enjoying your trip.

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Print Illustrations by Maya Chastain

Ask your doctor to write a note stating that you have diabetes and what supplies you need to keep with you. This can help you get through airport security more smoothly.

If you lose or run out of insulin, medications, or other supplies, having prescriptions can make it easier to replace them while you’re away from home.

Don’t pack insulin in your checked luggage, where it can freeze or get damaged or lost.

If your insulin or other supplies get lost, or you run out during your trip, it’s a good idea to know where to find more.

While you’re on vacation, you may try new foods, get more physical activity, or be in warmer weather than you’re used to. This can increase your odds of low blood sugar. Test your blood sugar regularly and always carry glucose tablets or another fast-acting sugar with you.

It’s helpful to pack 2 to 3 times the amount of insulin and supplies you usually need. This can cover you if any get lost or you end up using more than usual.

Avoid carrying everything with you at once. Keep your extra supplies in a separate pack in case one bag gets lost.

In case you need medical attention, this can let others know that you have diabetes and take insulin.

Make sure insulin does not get too hot or cold. In hot climates, consider getting a cooling pack to store insulin. If you’re out in cold weather, keep insulin close to your body. You can keep insulin at room temperature for 30 days.

If you take rapid insulin at meals, you may need to adjust your dose if you eat differently than you usually do. You may also need to adjust your insulin dose depending on the temperature and the activities you do. Talk with your healthcare team before you leave about how to do this.

Exploring a new country might mean unfamiliar foods. If you count carbohydrates, consider looking up common foods ahead of time. This may allow you to balance your insulin dosing more accurately.

If you cross time zones, you may need to make some adjustments to insulin timing and dosage. Talk with your healthcare team about the best way to do this.

If you take insulin to help manage type 2 diabetes, you can still enjoy traveling. Before your trip, there are things to consider to help the trip go more smoothly.

Pack extra supplies and always have a backup plan. Talk with your healthcare team ahead of time before you travel to a different time zone. They can guide you to make any necessary changes to your insulin dosing or routine.