How to pack like a T1D pro for travel


PDC Health Hub

The conversation about travelling with Type 1 quickly turns into what you need to pack.

That’s simple (sarcasm):

1. Prepare for what you’re prepared for

2. Prepare for what you’re not prepared for

I’ve travelled to remote islands in Fiji where I needed to make sure I had my personal life support close by at all times, spent months going through the United States and Europe making sure I had enough to sustain life as I went, and gone on plenty of quick road-trip or work trips around the Australia (and the world). So how do I know what to take?

My advice - create a plan based on how many days you are away and ensure you have spares. How many site changes will you need? What about pen tips? CGM sensors? How will you keep the insulin plentiful, safe, and at the right temperature? What about lows? And then add 30% of spares just in case.

Here is my “Takeaway Container Method” so I can quickly throw everything I need into my suitcases and have complete confidence that I have enough to keep me safe and sound. I have a takeaway container dedicated to a specific part of T1D management:

1. Pump site change

2. CGM site change

3. Glucagon & hypo treatment

4. Pump spare supplies (extra set changes, cleaning tools, and inserter)

5. MDI fall-back (just in case the pump is no longer an option)

6. Spare glucose testing supplies

I use #1 and #2 all the time at home also – I will live out of these boxes and replenish them so that they are always ready to “grab and go”. Each box is labelled and has my contact details just in case they go missing along the way. I also like to write exactly what to find in there so I can quickly understand what needs to be replenished or where to find the bit I need when I’m in a rush to use it.

Keeping insulin in the optimal temperature is key if you’re taking several weeks of stash. Invest in a MedAngel sensor and a Frio bag to keep things cool. Beware of hotel fridges that sometimes freeze things without you realising and never put your insulin in checked luggage as it can freeze in the cargo hold.

If you’re travelling through an airport, then make sure you have the doctor letter to cover all the insulin, supplies and devices that you are carrying with you. Ensure you understand your rights to have a private inspection of luggage and your person should you decide to not use scanning machines to prevent any issues with your pump or CGM.

HANDY HINT - Whilst you’re in the sky, use on-board lemonade if you have a low so you don’t chew through your hypo supplies.

So however you do it: have a plan, pack it in a neat fashion, travel with confidence, and have the time of your life. If you get into trouble, it’s easy to access a pharmacy and get things sorted when you are in Australia. However, if overseas, try and reach out to the T1D community online so you can have a buddy in each city that you can contact should you have an unplanned issue and need some local support.

How do you manage what to pack for travel? Comment below!

Want to see what this looks like? Check out my instagram @NotoriousT1D stories where I explain and walk through what I pack for work trips and international travel.

How I pack for my frequent Melbourne work trips – also good for the road trips!

How I packed for a leisurely 2 weeks in Japan and ensure I’m prepared for flights

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