Planes

Traveling to another state or country by plane can be stressful for anyone. Here are some tips to help make your next big trip go as smooth as possible.

Pre-flight Instructions

Plan for your travel day – going west lengthens the day, so more insulin may be needed. Insulin should always be carried on the plane. Checked baggage is stored in cargo holds and is subject to powerful X-rays that could damage the insulin.

Ask your child's healthcare team for a recommendation on how to find a health care professional at your destination.

Carry-on Supplies:

  • Diabetes devices and supplies
  • Doctor's letter and prescription labels for all medications and medical devices (not required but may help speed up security check-in process)
  • Snacks (i.e., peanut butter and crackers)
  • Fast-acting sugars (i.e., 5 oz. container of glucose gel, cake icing, glucose tablets or raisins)

At Security Check-in

  • Notify the screener that your child has diabetes and you are carrying her supplies with you.
  • Be prepared to show the doctor's letter and prescription labels.
  • Advise the screener if your child wears a pump that it cannot be removed because it is connected to a catheter inserted under the skin.
  • Insulin pumps and supplies must be accompanied by insulin with a label clearly identifying the medication. You may request a visual inspection rather than walking through the metal detector or being hand-wanded. However, this may subject your child to closer scrutiny or a "pat-down."
  • Bring your patience and a smile.

Up, Up and Away

  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids. Flying dehydrates the body.
  • If your child uses insulin while in flight, do not inject air into the insulin bottle. Pressure changes can make it hard to measure accurately if you do.
  • Change your watches and diabetes devices – meters and pumps – to the destination's time zone as soon as you arrive.
  • If your child is leaving the country, go to www.iamat.org. Print and pack the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers' list of English-speaking doctors in the areas you will be visiting. If abroad and unable to locate an English-speaking doctor, contact the American Consulate, American Express, or local medical schools.

You've Arrived!

Remember:

  • Make sure your child wears her medical identification.
  • Carry your doctor's contact information with you.
  • Check your child's blood glucose level regularly. Jet lag, excitement and exhaustion can cause an unexpected reading.
  • Check your insulin before injecting each dose. If you notice anything unusual about its appearance, call your doctor.

Learn more about Air Travel and Diabetes.

  • Last Reviewed: July 25, 2013
  • Last Edited: October 28, 2013

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