6 April 2022

Six months travel with T1D: where to start

Just to kick things off with the obvious: no, it’s not ideal timing to take a 6-month sabbatical in the midst of a pandemic. But let’s be honest: this pandemic thing has been going on for almost two years and most of us have been postponing lots of things because of it. Travel has probably been one of the things that has been postponed the most. Whether that’s two weeks in Spain, a skiing holiday in Austria, a long-awaited trip to Bali or that sabbatical that you’ve been saving up for. So here I am, just taking the plunge and travelling for 6 months to the US and Canada and other to be determined destinations.
The plan

Step 1: save money

Step 2: make a plan. Change your plan. Make another plan. Change it again – you know, the whole pandemic thing.

Step 3: calculate diabetes things

Step 4: order diabetes things (and get the necessary paperwork)

Step 5: cry over how many diabetes things you need to bring

Step 6: pack all the diabetes things and 2 pairs of underpants and 1 pair of socks.

Step 7: go travel

How do you start?

So step one and two were fairly easy to manage. In the end, we’ve decided not to plan too much, and see what happens as we go. So on to step 3: how to calculate how much stuff I need. I use a FGM, so I need enough supplies for 180 days and then some more in case the buggers fall of or don’t work. So, I’ve settled for about 25 weeks at 20 FGM sensors. Normally I’d use 13, so I want to bring another 7 just in case. Next up: my insulin pump supplies. I use a pump, which isn’t available in North America so I can’t rely on local supplies as a backup. A new infusion set every 3 days + backups, a new tubing every 3 days and a new cartridge every 3 days. Conclusion: 80 infusion sets, 80 sets of tubing and 80 cartridges.

I’m bringing 10 vials of insulin and 30 cartridges. Then there’s of course a spare insulin pump, BG-meter (and spare), infusion set inserter (and spare), two Novorapid flex pens and needles (just in case), one Tresiba pen (just in case), two glucagon nasal sprays, some alcohol wipes, some skin tac, a very small amount of lancets, a traditional BG meter (and spare), batteries and battery covers. I think that about sums it up.

Oh and the paperwork. My hospital (Diabeter) has given me a letter that states I don’t have to take off my diabetes management tools and can bring all the necessary stuff on board. Super useful. I’ve also requested a medication overview from my pharmacy. With that, I don’t see any trouble arising at an airport or travel destination. Good to go!

So much stuff

When you order your supplies (in January, completely demolishing your own risk within two weeks of the new year), all these boxes come in. And then the panic hits. Because it is SO MUCH STUFF. But, taking all of that stuff out of the boxes saves a lot of space. So many information leaflets and air takes up space that by taking all of it out of the boxes, your pile of stuff is already down by half. Add on an airline that allows you to bring a bag of medical luggage and more than half of my diabetes stuff fits into a (not even that large) extra shoulder bag. The rest we will spread out over two backpacks that go into the luggage area, and two carry-on backpacks.

Then luckily there’s still plenty of space for more than just two pairs of underpants and one pair of socks. So, we’re skipping half of step six (YAY) and then just need to worry about all the other things that still need to be packed (and done) before we leave. You know, the normal non-diabetes related stuff (which is still a plenty long list for 6 months abroad). But diabetes wise – I’m ready for take-off!

About Veerle

My name is Veerle and I am taking time off from being a marketeer in the healthcare space to travel, relax and see the world. Currently, I’m in the US, doing lots of hikes, reading lots of books, sleeping in and slowly planning ahead for the next leg of our trip – which will hopefully take us to Canada. Diabetes is coming along with me and my partner, and for Kaleido I’ll be writing about how this unwanted travel companion behaves.