What preparations should I make for traveling?
Questions 73 and 77 address the traveling-related issues of changing time zones and avoidance of low blood sugars when driving an automobile. General preparation for traveling may include some of the following considerations. Remember to take your glucose testing equipment and your diabetes medications. Take an extra supply of test strips and medication to allow for travel delays and changes in plans. Remember that not all of the medications that are available to you in your home town will be available to you in other countries if you should run out. It is a good idea to take your testing equipment and medications in your carry- on baggage when traveling by air, as your check-in baggage may get misdirected or lost. Most security and airport screening authorities recognize diabetes testing paraphernalia and insulin pens and syringes in industrialized countries, but cannot be relied on to do so in all parts of the world. It may be prudent to bring a note with you in the local language, if you do not speak it, that explains to authorities what these items are. If you are traveling to an exotic locale, where you are not sure of the local cuisine and your tolerance of it or your ability to accurately carbohydrate-count it, you may want to take a supply of familiar nonperishable food items with you to fall back on until you familiarize yourself with the local food or can locate a source of items that you recognize. If your diabetes is brittle or you have significant chronic complications, you may want to ask your physician or CDE for names of some local diabetes care providers that they can recommend in case you need them. This is especially valuable and important for students going away to college, who are likely to initially experience unpredictable lifestyle and diet adjustments and who will be away for lengthy periods. The farther away you are traveling, the less likely it is that your doctor or CDE will be able to identify resources for you at your destination. In this case, you may have to do your own homework. For the United States and Canada, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) directory of professional members (for this, go to diabetes.org) contains the names of physician and nonphysician professional members throughout the United States, Canada, and the world. You may be able to contact them prior to your departure. Other ADA travel recommendations can be viewed at diabetes.org/pre-diabetes/traveFwhen-you-traveljsp.
How can I prevent myself from having a low sugar reaction while driving?
If you are on the type of diabetes medication that has a significant risk of causing a low blood sugar (for details of these, see Question 41), you should check your fingerstick glucose before driving. If your blood sugar is low, you should treat the low blood sugar much as you treat a low blood sugar reaction in general, for example, by eating a snack providing a readily available source of calories and then rechecking your blood sugar 20-30 minutes later. If you cannot delay your trip, take a snack and an ongoing source of sugar, such as Life Savers or other type of hard candy, that you can consume over time. You should make sure that you have a snack with readily available sugar in the car at all times. When driving, it is strongly recommended that you stop every 2 hours and check your blood sugar and eat your normally scheduled meals and snacks. Do not use your glucose meter while you are driving! You need to pull over and do the test while parked.
Remember that your vehicle is a very heavy object traveling at high speed and, when out of control even for only short periods, can be highly dangerous not only to you, but others around you. Also recall that other factors that contribute to inattention and loss of control can be additive to the danger of low blood sugar while driving. These include fatigue and lack of sleep, alcohol and other drugs (prescription or recreational), physical illness, and mental stress.