Packing for an extended vacation can be stressful, and having to bring the medicines with you only makes things more complicated. This dilemma is especially real if you have diabetes. People with diabetes rely on insulin to control their blood sugar levels, and it can be hard to figure out exactly how much to bring and the right way to store it. As you plan your most-awaited trip and are planning to take your insulin with you, here are some essential tips on how to carry an insulin pen while traveling.
Plan and Pack
You may find that flying with medications is nothing to be worried about. However, traveling is already stressful as it is. So you need to plan and pack your medication ahead so you won’t forget anything.
Medications Must Be in Carry-on Baggage
Always store your medications and medical supplies in your carry-on baggage. Suitcases sometimes get lost or arrive late all the time. If you are traveling with a family member or a friend, you might want to designate medications between several bags, just in case something gets stolen or lost.
Another reason why you should keep medications in your carry-on baggage is that you have no control over the temperature over the aircraft’s hold where luggage is. Airlines also remind passengers against packing temperature-sensitive stuff in hold luggage as these could be exposed to freezing temperatures during the flight, or it could be sitting in the hot storage room. To be sure, it is better to have your medications with you, where you can control what is going on.
Carry an Extra Medical Supply Bag
If you are carrying a lot, most airlines usually allow a piece of extra baggage for medical supplies. For longer hauls, or if your condition requires amounts that take up lots of space, an extra medical bag can come in handy. Always check airline regulations and confirm with them beforehand!
Bring a Travel Letter/Doctor’s Note
If you’re traveling by air, it may be worth asking your physician for a letter declaring the medical necessity for your insulin and insulin supplies (syringes or pens, which contain needles).
However, not everybody travels with a letter from their doctor. Or maybe it will just sit in your bag, and no one will ever request it.
If you ever encounter problems, keeping one could make your day a little stress-free. You might also travel to places where your medication is uncommon, or might be unlucky and face an insensitive person at security. This isn’t necessary but can help make things go smoother at the security gate if you’re questioned.
Travel letters can make any searches at airport security go faster and smoother.
At most airports, there are different ways to go through a security check: x-ray machines which scans your carry-on luggage, metal detector walk-throughs, body scanners, a pat-down by staff, and swabbing hands or luggage to test for explosives.
If you use insulin pens or other medical devices, always confirm with the manufacturer about airport security check procedures.
When insulin gets too hot or frozen, it becomes less effective. Though it will not harm you if you inject it, it may not work as efficiently.
If your medications must need to be kept refrigerated all the time, you need to have a cool bag with ice packs. You can take this with you on the plane in your carry-on, so the required temperature of your medications remains the same.
When choosing a cool bag, check that there is an insulating layer in between the cooling elements and the medications. Also, use a thermometer to monitor your medications during flight and travels.
During the Flight
Air Pressure and Injections
Prefilled pens can generate some air bubbles in the pen cartridge. So if you keep the needle on the pen most of the time, give it a quick check before injecting it again.
Air Pressure and Injections
As if jetlag is not enough, people with diabetes usually take their medications around their day. Timezones can be much of a challenge. When you reach your destination, change to the local time. If you are using insulin pens, you might want to think about timezones even ahead of the flight and change the time of your injections as you do with your sleeping schedule to avoid jetlag.
In general, if the time zone difference is less than four hours, you need not make significant changes to your injections.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Because insulin is so vital to your everyday life, you should always be prepared with a plan B if you lose your insulin. Imagine the horror of trying to find a doctor for your prescription, then finding a pharmacy to fill it, and having to pay it out of pocket —all in a different country. This is a scenario we want to avoid.
Travelling is already stressful as it is, and having to bring medications adds to the complication. But planning ahead of time can ease your worries away and minimize the burden of making sure your medication essentials are in place. If this is your first time traveling with an insulin pen, we hope that this article will guide you on how to carry an insulin pen while traveling. Get more tips on first aid.