Type 1 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes found in children, and cases of this condition have been rising worldwide in the last decades. Having a child with type 1 diabetics is actually quite common in the UK: our country has the 5th highest rate of type 1 diabetes in the world.
Travelling with a diabetic child, specially for the first time, can be a big challenge, but it is not impossible! Like all trips, it requires a lot of preparation. If you follow our tips, you will be sure not run into any trouble. But if you are travelling overseas, the first thing you should do before start thinking of supplies, insulin pumps or anything else, is apply for your visa, ESTA or eTA on time.
Supplies, supplies, supplies
Always bring at least double the amount of supplies you would normally need, and split them between two people in case one bag goes missing. Insulin pumps, refills, sensors, ketone strips, Glucagon, needles, dextrose tabs… You will not probably need all of that, but you will be prepared if you do.
Make sure you have enough snacks to prevent and treat low blood sugar, and always carry some with you. Dextrose tabs, juice, crackers or biscuits. You can always need those during days out or the long hours waiting at the airport. Also, always remember to keep your child well hydrated.
Keep your insulin cool
Always use a Frio bag to keep your insulin at the right temperature, otherwise it could die. Most hotel rooms and flats have a fridge where you can store the most of your supplies, but Frio bags are perfect when you are on the go.
Place medical info on your child
When you travel, your child can always get lost in a crowd, and you should be prepared for this. They can wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace which clearly states they are type 1 diabetic. They should also always carry their hypo pack with them.
Airport security and CGM’s
Insulin pumps and CGM’s (Continuous Glucose Monitors) can go through standard metal detectors, but not through full-body scanners or X-ray machines. Before going through screening, inform the TSA staff that your child is diabetic and request a pat down with visual inspection of your child’s CGM devices instead. It is also a good idea to bring a prescription listing with all the medication your child uses, so you won’t have any problems at airport security
Last, but not least, always carry all your medication in the cabin and NOT in your checked baggage, as temperatures in the cargo compartment are extremely low, and your supplies could freeze.
Insulin requirements might change
A holiday abroad will change your child’s daily routine. Therefore, you can expect a change in their insulin requirements: warmer temperatures, the excitement of the trip….all these things can have an influence on your child’s sugar values. Consult with your doctor and ask them to adapt your child’s insulin dosage depending on all these factors.
Apply for your visa on time
Depending on your destination, you might have to apply for a visa before departure. Most countries with visa requirements nowadays have implemented an electronic visa system. Depending on the destination, you can obtain your electronic visa more or less quickly, but the application process is always very simple. You only have to fill in an online application form. The ESTA USA or the eTA Canada can be obtained in only a few minutes, specially if you request an urgent ESTA or an urgent ETA. For other destinations, like Egypt, Cambodia or Vietnam, you should apply in advance if you want to be sure to have your e-visa on time.