Trains, Planes and Automobiles—What to Know When Planning Your Vacation Eating

Nutrition Coach’s Corner

| Jul 1, 2004

Hot summer days, peaceful lakes, get-away adventures, time to reconnect and relax with family and friends.

Whatever your vacation plans include, don’t let your diabetes get in the way of your fun.

Always Plan Ahead

Planning ahead for your diabetes needs, whether for a day-trip close to home or a two-week Alaskan cruise, can eliminate hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and other complications from your itinerary.

If your plans include traveling by car, pack a cooler of your favorite foods. Keeping fruit, cheese, crackers without hydrogenated oils (trans fats), beverages and other nutritious snacks available saves you from making impulse purchases when hunger strikes at convenience stores and gas stations, where you are more likely to find chips, candies and cookies containing those unhealthy trans fats.

Play It Cool

Consider purchasing a portable electric cooler. A cooler makes it convenient to pack milk, deli meats and cheeses for sandwiches, fresh vegetables and fruit and other foods.

When making airline reservations, ask if a meal is served during the trip. Schedule a direct flight when possible. This shortens travel time and makes blood glucose management easier.

Some airlines offer only beverages during flights. This may not be enough food for you and could result in hypoglycemia. Call the airline at least 48 hours before departure and request a special meal.

Tell the representative that you have diabetes. Tell them your food preferences and ask what the meal will include. But be sure to keep an emergency snack in your carry-on bag just in case your special meal order happens to go AWOL or your flight is delayed.

And remember—always wear your medical ID.

Eating Out

Vacations are a time to enjoy the local fare. This may mean more restaurant meals, so sharpen your restaurant skills before leaving.

Remember to be portion- and carbohydrate-savvy. This might mean asking to order from the lunch menu, which offers smaller portions of similar dinner selections, sharing an entrée or dessert, asking for foods to be prepared without extra sauces, breading or frying, or ordering fruits and vegetables when available.

Stay Well-Supplied

Regardless of your mode of travel, keep food, your blood glucose meter and supplies, ketone-testing supplies and glucagon emergency kit, glucose tablets and diabetes medications with you at all times. Pack them in your carry-on bag, not in your checked luggage, and make sure your carry-on is stored under your seat or in a nearby compartment.

Enjoy Your Summer Travels

Whatever your travel plans include, pre-meal planning and physical activity can help keep your blood glucose in control and make your trip more enjoyable.

Before You Travel

Talk with your physician, nurse educator, dietitian or pharmacist about your travel plans.

Ask them to assist you with diabetes self-management traveling tips.

Ask your physician for a written prescription for all diabetes and other prescription medications in case you should lose your medications. Also ask for a statement verifying that you have diabetes and that you must carry monitoring equipment, insulin and food supplies.

Have a list of phone numbers for your healthcare team members.

Make sure to pack the following:

  • A meal, snacks and bottled water
  • Glucose tablets (plus a glucagon emergency kit, for type 1s, usually)
  • Ketone-testing supplies (for type 1s usually)
  • Carbohydrate-counting restaurant guide
  • Moist towelettes for hand washing

Learn about your destination in advance so you can know what meals and foods are likely to be available so you can plan accordingly.

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Categories: Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Insulin, Low Blood Sugar, Nutrition Advice

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