Latest Stories

Changing Diabetes

Traveling with diabetes


For diabetics, especially those on insulin, travel can be daunting. This article aims to help diabetics reduce the stress of traveling and make planning for a trip as enjoyable as possible.

The most common concern of diabetics is carrying medications in the luggage. Generally, airport security will allow passengers to board the airplane with insulin, insulin syringes and insulin pumps as well as all diabetes medications, nutrition and supplies. As long as the rooms are properly ventilated and air-conditioned, there is no need to bring medications in coolers.

The advent of the insulin pens and portable glucose kits as well as insulin pumps make it easy and handy to carry medication. Insulin pens are either refillable or disposable and come with cartridges that can be stored in a small portable case as small as an eyeglasses case. This makes it easy for pens to be stored in a carry-on bag or even a shoulder bag.

Modern glucose meters are small and handy. Some as small as a mid-sized cellular phone, others a little bigger than a ballpoint pen—allowing for easy storage of materials and blood glucose paraphernalia.

Storing insulin in check-in baggage is not advised because of the variable temperatures in the holding area. If you do have insulin in your check-in luggage, make sure it is well protected and sealed with a bubble wrap and towel or an airtight container packed in the middle of the suitcase.

Arrive at the airport at least 2-3 hours before the flight. Pack medications in a clear resealable bag and if possible bring prescription labels for each medication and medical device. Carry medications in your carry-on bags for easier inspection. This also ensures that the medications are kept within reach in case of rerouting, airport delays or the possibility of a lost or delayed check-in luggage. To prevent hypoglycemia, pack a nutrition bar, a small sandwich or any portable snack. Make sure to be well-hydrated when you travel.

To make your trip both smooth and hassle-free, always plan ahead. See your doctor at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to a trip and ensure your glucose levels are well-controlled. Make sure any adjustments to your medications are made a few days to several weeks before the scheduled trip.

Pack extra medication always—bring twice as much as you think you may need for the trip and do not change formulations of insulin prior to the trip to avoid changes in blood glucose levels while traveling. If traveling internationally, be aware of time zone changes for the next shot of insulin. The airline will provide meals for diabetic patients as long as you call ahead of time and inform them of your special needs.

Always wear comfortable shoes when traveling and check your feet daily for blisters, redness or cuts or scratches. Try to move around the airport or when on the road to lower your risk of forming blood clots in the legs, especially for diabetics who are prone to peripheral arterial disease. Wear comfortable shoes in the plane and avoid tight heels for women or shoes for men.

Glucose monitoring is done more frequently on the road—every 4 to 6 hours. Patients are advised to keep well-hydrated as well as to carry snacks to prevent hypoglycemia. Adjustments to doses of insulin are unnecessary unless the patients are crossing more than five time zones in the trip.

DIABETES TRIVIA CONTEST: You should pack your diabetes medications in your check-in luggage. True or False? E-mail your answer to changingdiabetesph@gmail.com and get the chance to win a prize!

Congratulations to Salvador junior Rossi! Your correct answer to the question in the August 17, 2013 column was chosen as this week’s winner in the Diabetes Trivia Contest. You will receive an e-mail on how to claim your prize.

Dr. Veronica A. Racho is an endocrinologist. The “Changing Diabetes” column commemorates the 92nd anniversary of insulin’s discovery. It aims to increase awareness on diabetes prevention, diagnosis and management. Novo Nordisk supports “Changing Diabetes.” Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. For questions or comments, e-mail changingdiabetesph@gmail.com.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Business , diabetes , Health , Veronica A. Racho

  • VoyageMD

    You can also find more detailed travel advice related to diabetes at VoyageMD.com and its free!

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Aquino: ‘Doubting Thomases’ now contributing to PH recovery
  • Fire engulfs apartments in Sampaloc
  • Messy warehouse belongs to Unicef, WFP, says Soliman
  • Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels release hostage
  • New meaning of Easter in Samar
  • Sports

  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace