Traveling Tips

A person with diabetes has a lot to remember when traveling.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Preparing for a road trip, family vacation, or business trip can require a lot of time and planning, but traveling with diabetes involves extra preparation. A person with diabetes has a lot to pack when traveling: a glucose meter, test strips, oral medications or insulin, and glucose tablets (all in your carry-on bag, if you're flying). You also cannot forget to consider what food you will be eating when traveling, since healthy eating is a key component in the management of diabetes.

Healthy eating on the road, though, is extremely challenging. Your normal routine is disrupted; you're exposed to many tempting meals and desserts; if you're traveling for work you may also be stressed with a busy schedule. On the other hand, if you're on vacation you may overindulge in an attempt to treat yourself.

Here are some tips for healthy and happy travels:

1.  Call ahead and ask questions. If you are staying at a hotel ask if they have a refrigerator and microwave in the room, that way you know what you can bring with you. If going on a cruise or staying at an all-inclusive hotel you can call ahead and ask if they have healthy meal options for people with diabetes. Most places are very familiar and accommodating to special diet needs.

2.  Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. If possible, you should bring along some healthy snacks to avoid unhealthy choices at airports or convenience stores. This can also be a money-saving tip too. Here are some healthy snack examples: whole-grain crispbreads, peanut butter (can purchase in small individual containers, but they are usually sweetened), nuts, fresh fruit, protein bars, diabetes meal replacement shakes. If you are driving and will be traveling with a cooler, you can bring sliced turkey, string cheese, fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, bottled water, and unsweetened or low carb yogurt. Take note: Some common choices that are convenient, but not the healthiest choices are trail mix, dried fruit, chips, and cookies.

3.  Make healthy choices when ordering out.

Breakfast. Healthier breakfast foods include scrambled eggs or omelets with veggies, oatmeal, fresh fruit with yogurt (again, unsweetened or low carb), cottage cheese, and low carb or 100-percent, whole-grain toast.
Lunch. At lunch, order salads with grilled chicken, tuna or shrimp, low carb wraps filled with chicken or turkey, and bean or vegetable soups. If meals come with chips or French fries, ask if a salad or fresh fruit can be substituted.
Dinner. Take advantage of the area you are traveling in and enjoy their specialty, if it can be made in a healthy way. If you are traveling near the ocean, order any seafood or fish, as long as it's not breaded or fried. Remember the general healthy eating rule, and try to make half of your plate deeply-colored veggies, one-quarter of your plate lean protein such as chicken, fish or lean pork and the other quarter of your plate a healthy carbohydrate such as beans, sweet potatoes, or a whole grain.

4.  Bring along a handy reference book. You'll find several good books out there that will give you nutritional information for various restaurants and different types of cuisine. Two are: Guide to Healthy Restaurant Eating by Hope S. Warshaw (American Diabetes Association) and The CalorieKing Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter (


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Last Modified Date: June 17, 2013

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by Brenda Bell
Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...
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