The Trouble with Travel (Continued)
I did all that last year – and then learned that even being too prepared can backfire sometimes. Would you believe that when I presented my intricate list of medications to a German pharmacist, he was totally insulted?! "You think we don't recognize standard concentration of insulin over here?" he barked in German. I was speechless (even though I speak fluent German).
In the end he was happy, though, because I had to shell out 60 Euros each (!) for two vials of glucose test strips, after running out of them in Week Three.
I've done this "summer travel marathon" for nearly five years now, and I still find it stressful. But I have learned a couple of hands-on lessons that actually help:
1) Are you familiar with the "vacation override"? That's the term most insurance companies use for allotting you extra diabetes supplies in advance, when you're planning to be on the road. Note: even if you use a mail order supplier, you usually have to fill the vacation override prescription at a local pharmacy. And don't fill it too early, or you may find that you start tapping into your travel supplies before you leave.
2) Get somebody in your family or travel party to help carry your diabetes stuff. This is both convenient and a safety measure, in case your suitcase is the one that gets lost or crushed. Note: I make my husband carry a bunch of supplies, because he apparently doesn't need as many shoes or outfits as I do.
3) When going through airport security, apply the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" principle. I've found that if you keep your mouth shut, security almost never recognizes or flags your diabetes supplies. Note: I voluntarily pulled out my insulin vials once, trying to be a good citizen. All it got us was an hour delay and an eventual wave-through.
4) On readjusting insulin: I'm terrible with time zones. I get exhausted and cranky. But as far as insulin dosing, when I was on Lantus, I just split my regular dose the first night between morning and evening, and then I transitioned to taking my bedtime dose at the local bedtime hour the second night. Now that I'm a pumper, I just reset the time on my pump the minute we land, and usually use a Temp setting to lower my basal rate for the first night, so I don't go too low.
And regarding weather: It's going to be hot in Mexico, and either very hot and muggy or cold and rainy in Germany. The only consistent thing about the weather in Europe is its unpredictability. So who knows what to pack, other than diabetes supplies? Wish me luck.
Read more about Amy Tenderich.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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