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An open suitcase packed with rolled up clothes and a charger features an open diabetes medication pouch with extra pill bottles, a glucose monitor, and needles.

When Traveling Always Pack Extra Medication

It was a short trip—four days to the conference and back. What could go wrong?

Well, as I’ve learned before, don’t ask the Universe a question when you’re not prepared for the answer.

Pack twice the medicine you think you’ll need

Conventional wisdom, the CDC, and the ADA all say pack twice the amount of diabetes medicine and supplies you think you will use on your trip.

More on this topic

Put everything, clearly labeled, in resealable plastic bags. Remember to take the things you might need but don’t necessarily use every day, like glucose tabs. Make sure to keep it all with you in your carry-on.

It can feel like you’re bringing your whole medicine cabinet with you. Especially when you’re packing light for a short trip.

Do I really need to do that?

Do I really need half of my bag to be filled with diabetes medications and supplies? I’m only gone for four days. Thinking like this was my first mistake.

My second mistake was to eyeball my insulin vial and guesstimate that it was enough for four days.

Not only was I not bringing extra, but I was also bringing just enough with me. Risky, but I was feeling confident.

You never know what will happen

Then the unexpected happened. Inclement weather in Dallas closed the airport. Who expects a massive hailstorm and high winds in April? Not me.

Actually, the day the storm hit it didn’t really seem like it would be a problem. The storm happened on Saturday, day two of the conference, and I wouldn’t be leaving until the end of the next day. Certainly, things would be back to normal by then.

By the time I arrived at the airport over 90 flights had been canceled, many of them because the planes needed to be inspected for damage from the hailstorm. As I was checking in the agent stopped me. She told me that because of delays I would miss my connecting flight and I needed to go stand in customer service line for re-booking.

Great.

After standing in the customer service line for nearly an hour, my travel plans had changed completely. I wouldn’t be heading home for two more days. That was the earliest the airline could book me with a confirmed seat all the way to my final destination.

Two more days in Dallas with an insulin vial that was nearly empty.

I let out a deep sigh.

Once I got back to the hotel I sat down to figure out my plan for the next two days.

Did I need to figure out how to get a refill?

I would have to call my pharmacy back home. They’re closed on Sunday. It would be midday in Dallas on Monday by the time they opened up again. Would that leave enough time to actually get the refill done? And how much would that cost since it would be out of network?

Could I adjust my dose instead?

Take a smaller dose over the next two days and stretch out what I had on-hand. Sure, that means my blood glucose would probably run higher. But travel always disrupts my blood glucose levels. Would this be any worse than what normally happens? Once I got back home I’d get back to my regular dose. It might take a couple of extra days for things to smooth out.

There I sat, having to decide between two not great options. All because I didn’t prepare properly.

Yes, you do need to pack more than you think you’ll need

Packing twice the meds and supplies sometimes still feels like overkill—especially for short trips. But certainly, it’s wise to bring extra, just in case.

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