From Best Kept Secret festival and campsites in Brittany, all the way to Hong Kong and Cambodia, Heleen has seen it all. She’s had type 1 diabetes since the age of 12, so over the years she’s made a lot of discoveries about what to consider when planning, packing for and squeezing the absolute most from a trip. She knows the easiest way to get through customs at the airport, which items you should always have with you and above all, which things you sometimes might be better off leaving at home.
Welcome to Heleen’s brain: it’s packed with lists here. Every holiday, those lists get a little longer. Thankfully, they’re safe on her laptop – not just inside her brain! – which makes it easy to go through her own roadmaps and checklists before each trip. As soon as Heleen has a holiday planned, the thinking begins… But the real preparations start about two weeks in advance.
Layout and packing
First, she applies for a Kaleido holiday kit and checks whether she has enough insulin and other equipment left in the house. On her last working day before departure, she takes home the glucagon kit that she keeps in the office. That way, she has two to take with her when she travels. Then, the weekend before departure, she prints the packing lists.
Every year, she discovers new items that come in handy. For instance, she used to tuck her Kaleido handset away in a backpack, along with her phone. This caused extra hassle when she needed to get the handset out for a moment, and she had to take the backpack off completely. She tried carrying a small bag on her shoulder, as well as her backpack. Success! The handset fits perfectly inside it, along with her wallet, metro card, phone and glucagon. And that’s how the little bag made its way onto the packing list for future trips.
Flying with diabetes
Having glucagon in that bag is essential for Heleen. Her friends know how the syringe works for emergencies. But thankfully, she can handle most of her hypos without glucagon. In those instances, she uses AA drink. If she’s going to fly, she replaces the sports drink for Snelle Jelles. Once the plane has landed, she searches for a shop to buy a bottle of cola or orangeade. Fortunately for Heleen, they have those almost everywhere in the world!
Speaking of flying, security checks at the airport can be a bit of a thing for Heleen. Especially in the Netherlands. “Abroad, they are often much more chill,” she says. “There, if you say it’s medical equipment, you are allowed to go through just like that.” Recently, Heleen got a new backpack for her travels. The bag has an extra backpack that you clip on top of the big backpack. That’s where she puts all her diabetes stuff. This way, these can go on the plane as hand luggage and she always has her most important things close by should she need them. It’s also handy if your suitcase is delayed, which happened to Heleen once in Japan.
Two sizes of tubing
Among those must-have items is the Kaleido charger, enough infusion sets and other materials to last her while travelling, and two sizes of tubing. The fact that Kaleido has the option of a 5cm tube or a 30cm tube is something Heleen is a big fan of. Especially on holiday, she takes full advantage of it the versatility it gives her. The options make it easier to change the pump’s position, and the sites she uses. She likes the long tube with the infusion set on her leg, the short one is perfect for on her arm.
Kaleido’s flexibility is what makes it such an excellent system for Heleen, especially in the summertime, or changing climates. If she sweats a lot, she can easily change her infusion set without changing the whole system. “Or if you are sunburnt and want to give your arm some rest, then you stick a new cannula on your leg. It’s all possible with Kaleido.”
Unexpected problems? They happen to everyone from time to time, according to Heleen. So, how does she deal with a pump that suddenly runs out on holiday, or hot, humid weather she wasn’t expecting? Read all about it and more in the previous blog.