Type 1 Cycling

Type 1 Cycling

Friday, July 26, 2013

Travelling with Diabetes

I had meant to write about traveling with diabetes a while ago. For our honeymoon my wife and I traveled around Vietnam and Cambodia. It was long before I started this blog, so I will focus this post on something more recent and save that for another time.

I am writing this having spent a long weekend in and around Philadelphia and from there traveling to DC then Montreal and finally New York before flying home to Tel Aviv (with a short stop off in Madrid). We have been here for a family wedding so my brother and I have both been training and managing our diabetes together.It's not been easy. The heat has been punishing, hot and extremely humid. Aside from waking up early for some morning training we are wandering around the city so being far more active than normal. Add to all this the food is wildly different from what either of us are used to.

The "Rocky Steps" leading up to the Philadelphia art museum
The hotel had a gym so we were on the exercise bikes in the morning before going for a run to the art museum and some interval training up and down the famous rocky steps. My brother is tapering off for his preparation for the London triathlon next weekend while I am continuing to build up to the mHealth Grand Tour.

Rocky and Me
The problem throughout the weekend has been the food. Portion sizes and sugar content being the biggest difficulty. In the US as anywhere there are novelties with the food that is different from what we are used to. Whether its a fatty Philly cheese steak or a giant kosher style salt beef sandwich. We just don't have quite the same food back home.I have blown throughout 60 test strips in 5 days. And the swings have been up through the roof after going back for seconds at the wedding and middle of the night lows after a long day starting with training and ending with a meal at the fantastic Marimoto Japanese restaurant.It has been as constant battle between correcting for highs and stuffing my face full of gummy bears when I am low. As the trip continues and we start visiting more friends and eating more home cooked food I am hoping that will help keep my sugars more balanced.

This is not my first time traveling and every trip no matter how exotic the location poses its challenges. My advice for travelers with diabetes is that it's important to test more frequently, changes in routine, particularly volume of activity; the stress and sedentary nature of long haul flights; different climate; and new foods all have an effect your insulin sensitivity and sugar requirements. Check packaging of food to get the nutritional information and ask waiters in restaurants about your food to make it easier to estimate how much insulin to take. As I sit on a four hour intercity bus ride I will add that it is always a good idea to stock up on water and emergency sugar, like coke and gummy bears, on a journey like this one. I like to bring some fruit too, I prefer to keep my sugars up with that rather than let them drop to hypo and then eat junk. On flights this is less of a problem as there is almost always something available. I usually travel with my wife and if not I am rarely on my own. I always take far more supplies than I need: extra testing strips; double the insulin/spare pens; and loads of needles. I then split them up across our suitcases and hand luggage. In the case that a bag gets stolen or lost I will still have enough to last, if not to the end of my trip, until I can organize getting hold of more.

I always buy travel insurance. My health care provider, Maccabi, does travel insurance which covers me for any diabetic emergencies at no extra cost.Try to keep everything in balance with some exercise especially on a less active holiday. Most of all try to have fun. Whilst we can never take a holiday from our diabetes we can still have a really good time away from home and away from our familiar and easier to control lifestyle.

Live long and stay healthy

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