Diabetes WA educator Marian Brennan takes us through the top 3 most asked questions on the Diabetes WA Information and Advice Line (1300 136 588).
#3: “I am going travelling. How can I look after my insulin?”
Have you put travel in the ‘too hard basket’? Holidays are an important way for us to relax and take a break from our busy lives. Unfortunately diabetes has to come with us on our holiday, but this shouldn’t stop you from being able to enjoy yourself. If planned well, there is no reason you cannot enjoy a holiday around Australia or overseas!
There are many challenges when travelling with type 1 diabetes, however one of the most common questions would have to be:
How and where do I store my insulin?
Insulin that is in use needs to be kept at room temperature and can be safely kept at this temperature for about a month. Spare insulin should be refrigerated.
Do not expose insulin to:
- Direct sunlight
- Temperatures above 30°c
- Temperatures below 3°c
- Do not freeze insulin or put it on ice.
So how do you regulate the temperature? Insulin travel wallets or cooling pouches are the answer! These wallets keep insulin at optimum temperatures for up to 45 hours with no refrigeration needed – just water! You can buy them on the Diabetes WA online shop (external link).
When travelling by plane, it is important to keep your insulin and other diabetes supplies in your carry on luggage. This is because the temperature of your regular luggage is not regulated and it will likely exposure your insulin to extreme temperatures, which will cause it not to work effectively.
Don’t rely on being able to access insulin overseas. It is very important that you take more insulin and supplies than you think you’ll need. Bring any prescriptions for insulin and other medications that you have. It is a very sensible idea to get a detailed letter from your doctor detailing type 1 diabetes, your insulin requirements and any other relevant medical history. In some overseas countries, taking your prescriptions or a letter from your doctor to an emergency department will help you secure insulin in an emergency situation.
For further tips on planning your holiday:
- Travelling and type 1 diabetes. Everything you need to know!
- Fact Sheet on travel and diabetes.
- Call our experienced diabetes educators on DIAL 1300 136 588.
Marian is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.