Holiday travel checklist with an insulin pump
Being prepared with diabetes makes life easier. Check if any vaccinations are required well in advance, arrange letters, prescriptions and check dates on supplies. Don’t order a special ‘diabetes’ meal for your flight – unless you really want to! Advise the airline you have Type 1 Diabetes, this information should be passed to cabin crew and you will normally be given permission to carry an extra cabin bag solely for medication and diabetes supplies.
To give you some ideas of what you may require to pack for your trip! This is not an exhaustive list nor may it all be necessary, it is to give you ideas and hopefully remind you if you have forgotten something!
Holiday pump – enquire if your pump manufacturer or clinic has a holiday loan service, check at least one month in advance – contacts below.
Documents to carry:
- Travel letters – confirming Type 1 diabetes and list of medications for customs. If Lucozade is used to treat hypos ask for ‘lucozade is used to treat hypos’ to be noted on your doctors letter, although it is never guaranteed they will allow it through.
- Pump letter for security – Medtronic letter here
- Prescription List
- Note of current pump settings
- Instructions to change back to injections in case of pump failure
- Sick day rules
- Insurance information
- Contact number for diabetes team and pump company
Diabetes Airport Card in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Turkish, Greek, Russian and Arabic – click image to open document
Prescriptions with original labels intact
Insulin Vials 2-3 times usual amount required, stored in hand luggage
Batteries for pump
Tape and/or adhesives (e.g skin tac, opsite, rocktape etc)
Blood glucose monitor plus an extra spare monitor, strips and batteries
2 x finger pricker and lancets
Ketone meter, strips and batteries
Glucagon Emergency Kit (orange box)
Insulin pens, needles, and cartridges of long and short acting insulin in case of pump failure (all insulin in hand luggage as it will freeze in the hold)
Snacks in case of delay
Travel insurance and an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are travelling to a European Union member country.
Other items to consider:
- Sharps bin
- Aquapac to swim with pump
- MedPak – can be useful for packing
- Frio wallets – to keep insulin cool (VAT can be claimed back during checkout on Funky Pumpers)
- Portable scales
- Extra ‘Airport Security Hand Luggage Liquid Bags’ – can be bought cheaply on ebay (approx £1.50 for 11)
- Park letter (to avoid queuing)
- Basic phrases in language of country you are travelling to
- Medical ID – if you carry a purse or wallet the EIO Card is very economical
- Pump insurance – you can insure your pump for one month with insurance4insulinpumps.co.uk for just over £7.00 (correct as of April 2016) and this will cover a loan pump too. Just don’t forget to cancel the policy!Let the airline know you are travelling, you may be permitted to carry an extra bag for supplies on top of your luggage allowance.
If using CGM:
CGM transmitter, CGM charger, Glucose sensors, Insertion device for sensors, Tape
If travelling by air:
Always check if your airport has opted into the ‘Travelling with a Hidden Disability Lanyard scheme.’ Many airports have been working with a number of different charities to improve staff training and awareness of hidden disabilities and to improve the assistance they provide. If you or someone you are travelling with have a hidden disability they will be happy to provide you with a lanyard or pin which will discreetly identify you to airport staff as requiring additional support.
Front line security staff have been trained to recognise these lanyards and offer special assistance to passengers passing through the Security Search process. Airports differ, so do check in advance, it may be you require to check in with the special assistance desk or are sent one by post pre-travel, for example.
Check with the airline in advance for extra hand or hold luggage allowance for medical supplies. They will often allow an extra bag.
Pump company contacts
Animas: 0800 055 6606
CellNovo: +44 (0)20 3058 1250
Medtronic: +44 (0)1923 205167
OmniPod: +44 (0)844 856 7820
Roche Accu Chek: 0800 731 22 91
mylife YpsoPump: +44 344 8567820
Advanced Therapeutics UK Ltd Distributor for Dana and Kalido: 24/7 line: 07775 642 239 Office hours Phone: 01926 833 273
Lilly: 01256 315999
Novo Nordisk: 0845 600 5055
Pfizer: 01304 616161
Sanofi-Aventis: 01483 505515
Wockhardt UK: 01978 661261
Dexcom Technical support:
0131 516 0470
0330 088 7879
0800 031 5763
+44 (0)1923 205167
Visit – www.diabetestravel.org – created in August 2015 as a free online resource for the diabetes community for a walk you through the travel process with diabetes considerations in mind—what to pack, letters for travel, airport security, beach day advice and more!
Note – Always ask your team for travel letters, your GP could charge you!
Check with the airline for extra hand or hold luggage allowance for medical supplies. They will often allow an extra bag.
When flying – The current recommendations for the insulin pump state that if any visible bubbles form during ascent, the patient should remove the bubbles before reconnecting the device upon reaching altitude.
Some clinicians advise to disconnect during take off and descent, due to the low possibility that depressurisation can lead to unintended bolus dosing, increasing the risk for hypoglycemia. Read up on outgassing and expansion. For further information see Asweetlife.org
If going to an amusement park on holiday remember very powerful electromagnets are sometimes used on ‘free-fall’ rides. Insulin pumps should be removed and not taken on these ‘free-fall’ types of rides.
High gravity forces can be experienced when riding on some roller coasters. It is recommended that you disconnect (NOT suspend) the pump while on roller-coaster rides.
Sea, pools, waterparks! If frequent disconnecting is required, it might be an idea to consider the untethered regime on those days or for the duration of the holiday.
The Untethered regime is a combination of insulin pump and background insulin (Lantus or Levemir) and continuing to use your pump for carb boluses and corrections.
The pump may be removed for extended periods of time (greater than 1 hour). Removing the pump is helpful if swimming or exercising for a prolonged period of time, athletic competitions, etc., as the Lantus/Levemir serves as background basal insulin reducing the likelihood of ketones.
mmol/l or mg/dl
Many countries do not measure glucose in mmols like us in the UK, for example a blood glucose level of 10mmols would be 180mg/dl. Check your destination before travel.
Keep all essential supplies in your hand luggage.
Test, test and test – new food, different routines and sun can all do funny things to your levels, and finally, take a deep breath and …..
HAVE A GREAT TRIP!