PLANNING your next getaway isn't always easy when living with diabetes. Air travel in particular requires rigorous and meticulous preparation.
So how do you make the most of your holiday while staying safe?
Diabetes NSW & ACT surveyed each of the four major airlines flying domestically in Australia - Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Tigerair - and based on the results share their crucial top five tips for travelling with diabetes:
1. Be insulin ready
When flying, be sure to keep insulin and any back-up supplies in your carry-on luggage. In October last year, a woman died on a flight from Turkey to Russia after her insulin was in her cargo luggage, despite taking a shot of insulin an hour before the flight. Keep all your products stored under the seat in front of you for easy access.
TRAVEL TIP: Insulin refrigeration is not yet available on airlines, but personal insulin refrigeration travel cases can be bought from the Diabetes Online Shop.
2. Plan meals in advance
The survey revealed that Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia provide meals specific for diabetic requirements on long haul flights but not for domestic flights. If possible, plan meals in advance with the airline. All airlines provide nutritional information of all inflight meals, snacks and drinks, so do your research prior to booking. For added security, pack a selection of non-perishable foods in case of a flight delay and to help your body adjust to new time zones.
3. Maintain your routine
Sticking to a routine, such as having consistent meal times and checking your insulin at regular intervals, is extremely important, so map your travel journey and note any time zone differences to ensure you don't miss any daily milestones. If you use an insulin pump, change the time on the pump to the new local time.
4. Carry documentation
While Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia provide sharps disposal in toilets, Tigerair does not, but will allow you to carry it on and off the plane in your hand luggage. Carry a note from your doctor stating that you have diabetes and that you are carrying syringes and life-saving medication. Present it to security staff to avoid any issues, especially at check-in and security screening points.
5. Prepare a best-practice response
Plan for your worst-case scenario, such as how you're going deal with a low or hypoglycemia or other potential complications. By informing staff when you board and telling passengers closest to you, you can be prepared for a best-practice response. The survey revealed that Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia provide hypoglycemia treatment packs that include snacks, juice, glucose gel, glucagon and IV fluid. Tigerair does not have specialised hypoglycemia treatment packs however staff are trained to provide snacks and drinks in the event of an attack.
Full and thorough preparation is key to travelling safely when living with diabetes.
For more details on the Diabetes NSW & ACT survey - www.diabetesnsw.com.au/airline-survey/