Road Tripping With Diabetes
Last updated: March 2023
There’s something about the tug of the road when seasons change. Summer heat gives way to autumn colors. Winter’s cold gives way to the new growth of spring. When this happens, getting out on the road just seems like the best thing to do.
Thinking about traveling with diabetes?
But with diabetes on board, taking a road trip takes some extra thought and preparation. You want to make sure you stay safe and that your self-care routine doesn’t get completely disrupted while you’re enjoying the sights along the way.
Reconsider the routines you take for granted
On the road, you have to re-think some things you normally take for granted. How will you store your medications and diabetes supplies safely? What will you do with your used sharps? What about your daily routines? How will you get your daily exercise when much of the day is spent sitting in a car? When and where will you eat your meals?
A road trip won’t be any fun if you end up not feeling well because of diabetes.
Take extra care of temperature-sensitive meds and monitoring supplies
Decide how much of your medication and supplies to bring with you while you’re on the road. Bring extra, just in case.
Insulin, injectables, and blood glucose monitoring supplies are temperature-sensitive. You don’t want to leave them in a car that is too hot or too cold. What’s too hot or too cold? It depends. For guidance ask your pharmacist or read the info sheet that came with your prescriptions. You can bring along an insulated grocery bag or soft-sided cooler for storage. But they require ice cubes or frozen ice packs to keep them cool, which might be difficult to keep on hand while traveling. Also, it’s not a good idea to store insulin or injectables directly on ice where they tend to freeze.
FRIO makes reusable cooling cases that use evaporation to keep medications cool. Soak the gel pack in water for 10 minutes, the moisture evaporates over the next 45 hours keeping the items inside cool. Another soaking in water is all it takes to “recharge” the cooling case. These cooling cases are purpose-built and reliable.
Get and wear some medical ID jewelry
If you get into an emergency situation, medical ID jewelry can alert first responders that you have a medical condition. Medical ID jewelry clearly identifies that you have special medical needs.
There are lots of places you can get medical ID jewelry. However, consider signing up for a Medic Alert membership. In addition to selling medical ID jewelry, Medic Alert collects your critical health information (e.g., health conditions, allergies, emergency contact) into a database that is available 24/7 to first responders and medical professionals. Quick access to this information in an emergency, when your complete medical record is not available, can be a Godsend.
Rethink your daily routine
Spending the day in a car can disrupt your usual self-care. Meals and exercise routines, in particular, are likely to get thrown into disarray.
Get out of the car along the way
Plan to stop every couple of hours, even if it’s only to walk around for five minutes. You want to keep your circulation going and check your blood glucose levels. This is especially important if you’re the one driving. Just sitting for hours on end can elevate your blood glucose levels. And driving with extremely high or low levels is unsafe.
Plan some stops along the way and not just to get something to eat. Stretch and move your body. Take a walk through a charming town or down a country trail.
Stay hydrated and have snacks on hand
Make sure you have drinks and snacks in the car where you can easily get to them. You want to stay hydrated and not get too hungry. Having cool water and a healthy, low-carb snack on hand makes it easier to resist junk food along the way. Also, if you experience hypoglycemia having juice on hand offers an extra measure of comfort and safety.
Enjoy your trip
With a bit of forethought and planning, you can enjoy your road trip, even when diabetes comes along for the ride.
Do you find it difficult to "eat right" and stick to a nutrition plan?