Don’t let diabetes stand between you and having a good time on holiday! Diabetes-proof your next plane, car or boat trip with these easy tips…
1. Get checked
Before you hit the road, have a check-up with your GP. "Diabetes can suppress the immune system, so protecting yourself against any health problems associated with your destination becomes more important than ever," says GP Dr Tony Gherardin. And whether you’re staying in Australia or going overseas, ask your GP for a script for your regular meds. "You won’t be able to fill it overseas, but if you lose your medication, it’ll give another doctor a clear indication about what you’re taking," he explains. He also suggests taking more meds than you need, in case your luggage goes missing along the way.
2. Watch the clock
If going on holiday means crossing time zones, you’ll need to plan your meal and medication times carefully. Generally, if you’re flying west, you’ll need to use more medication because the day becomes longer, while flying east makes the day shorter. "But travel can be unpredictable, with unexpected delays of flights and meal times," says Dr Gherardin. "You need to be able to cope with that. So formulate a plan with your GP prior to your trip."
3. Say hello
If you’re jumping on a plane or boat, dietitian Melanie McGrice suggests introducing yourself to the crew and letting them know you have diabetes. "That way, if you need an extra snack, or if meal-service delays make it important for you to get served earlier when things do get back up and running, the crew is already familiar with your situation," she says.
4. Eat well
Research shows that one in three of us puts on weight while on holiday. However, Melanie says it’s easy to avoid bucking the blowout trend. "Food is a great way to experience a different culture, but rather than eating everything that’s new in a few days, try one new thing each day," she says. And just because you’re on holiday, don’t ignore healthy meal choices and portion sizes. "If you wouldn’t normally order dessert when you’re eating out at home, why do it because you’re on holiday?" And don’t neglect your exercise, either! Walk as much as you can, go swimming, or just throw a ball around with your kids or grandkids.
5. Stay cool
Whether you’re heading to Argentina or Adelaide, it’s important to keep yourself – and any medication you’re carrying – cool. For you, this means drinking plenty of water and, when flying, avoiding alcohol, as it can cause your blood sugar levels to shift. ‘If you’re carrying insulin, store it in an insulated bag to regulate its temperature,’ says Dr Gherardin. ‘Anything above 30°C is harmful, but too cold isn’t good either. If you’re flying, never pack insulin in your checked-in baggage because there’s a risk of things freezing in the hold.’
6. Get insured
Travel insurance won’t just reimburse you for the handbag you left at the cafe or suitcase that got lost in transit – it can also help protect your bank balance if you fall ill on holiday. ‘Around 30 per cent of Australians travel without insurance,’ says Dr Gherardin. ‘[But] depending on where you are and what happens, accessing medical care overseas can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so it pays to have insurance.’
7. Have fun!
You’re on holiday – so enjoy it! "The world is out there, so don’t let something like diabetes be a barrier to exploring it," says Dr Gherardin.