I’ve planned, booked, organised, packed, and said a not-so-tearful goodbye to my colleagues. I’ve loaded my e-reader with as many books as it will hold. I’ve checked every item off of my pre-travel checklist (get your copy here) and I’m ready to go. There ARE, however, a few things to still keep in mind while traveling with a pump.
I like to think of my pump as a tiny version of my mom that I keep in my pocket, a mini-mom. Replace the word ‘pump’ with ‘mini-mom’ and pose my questions. For example, how would my mini-mom react to being slobbered on by a big dog? Would mini-mom enjoy being covered in sun-screen? You get the idea.
Depending on my chosen transport, there may be different situations to be aware of. With a pump, cabin pressure in an airplane (for example) can affect insulin delivery, according to some studies. I have absolutely the best diabetic nurse, who has great advice on adjusting my pump settings. I’m less active on long flights, so I use a temp basel to deliver less insulin for the flight duration.
Travel tip: always find out if there will be a meal served, or food available, on your flight.
For some reason, even if I haven’t done anything wrong, I still feel nervous going through airport security. Just me? Okay. Travelling with my pump adds another level of potential, unwanted, attention. I just want to get through and out the other side to the duty-free shopping and strangely delicious airport coffee shops with minimal fuss. A bit of advance preparation can help with this.
Travel tip: Tell the security staff you’re wearing an insulin pump, and have the relevant documents ready (i.e. doctor’s note, pump manufacturer airport wallet card). With the heightened security these days, it’s best to be up front and honest. I can wear my Medtronic pump through the metal detector with no problems, however it cannot go through the x-ray machine or the full body scanners, as some of these use x-rays. The same applies with the CGM. Omnipod pods and PDM are safe to take through both scanners and belt x-rays.
For all forms of travel, I make sure I test my sugars more than usual. I also keep hydrated. Water: not just for airline passengers!
I’ve arrived intact and now I’m ready for some fun. I got a snazzy new pump case just for the occasion and we’re here to see the sights. There’s also a mini-fridge in my room, perfect to keep my spare insulin in. (You can check before booking if your room has a mini-fridge; most places do these days. If your room doesn’t, you can always ask to be moved to another room.
Travel tip: most insulin will last a month at normal room temperatures. It’s useful to travel with cold packs to store insulin and you can always ask the hotel to re-cool your pack for you.)
I’m ready for some fun. But remember mini-mom:
- would mini-mom like it if I threw her in the water? It depends, can she swim? Is she approved for the water, even if only for an hour?
- would mini-mom like it if I sat out in the hot sun and left her exposed? No! She would not!
- how would mini-mom feel if I let her get covered in sand? Just like the rest of us – gritty, dirty, and with bits of sand in every nook and cranny that weeks of showers can’t seem to wash away.
Always a sad time. Saying goodbye to new friends, taking email addresses, last minute selfies with the local flora and fauna. Thankfully, getting home is the easy part; I just follow all of the same rules, no matter which direction I’m headed.
Having a pump is nice that way!
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