Travelling with Medication
Don’t put everything you need in your hold luggage in case of delays or luggage going missing. Split your supplies and carry some in your hand luggage or on your person. If you’re travelling with other people, it is a good idea to ask someone else to carry spare kit for you too.
Carry emergency hypo treatment, both fast-acting carbohydrate (e.g. dextrose tabs) and if possible in the form of injectable glucagon. Make sure if you’re travelling with others that someone else knows how and when to administer it, in case you become extremely drowsy or lose consciousness. This is particularly important if you’re travelling off the beaten path, or to places where you can’t get emergency care easily.
When taking supplies with you, check that anything with an expiry date – such as glucose strips – will be usable for the whole time you’re away.
Meters and Test Strips
Glucose meters and test strips can be affected by extreme temperatures and humidity. The manual for your model should tell you the temperature range they perform best in – this is usually between 15° and 35°C.
Some strips may give false highs in hot weather and false lows in cold weather.
If you’re worried about inaccurate tests, you can use glucose solutions of known concentrations to check the accuracy of your strips/meter. The company that produces your kit should be able to provide vials of high, medium and low concentrations that you can use to check, though these usually expire after three months.
A good general rule is to take with you twice the amount of insulin and other supplies that you might need. Bear in mind that insulin can be affected by extreme temperatures. Never put insulin into your hold luggage if you’re flying – pressure changes and freezing temperatures can damage it. Always keep your insulin in your carry on luggage.
Make sure you store your insulin out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dark place. You might want to invest in a cooling wallet to carry your insulin in, such as a FRÍO® wallet, which stays cool for at least 45 hours and can be repeatedly activated with water, or a wide-necked vacuum flask you can pre-cool. If you’re using anything frozen to keep your insulin cool, make sure that the insulin is not right beside it, as it could make the insulin freeze.
Always check before you use the insulin that it hasn’t gone off. If clear insulin has gone cloudy, or if any insulin has lumps or clumps that won’t disperse on mixing, or if the bottle has particles sticking to the sides, or if there’s any colour change, then you shouldn’t use it.
If you’re travelling to high altitudes, be aware that this may affect how well insulin pens work. You may wish to bring syringes with you as well, just in case your pens fail – you can draw insulin from the cartridge, but make sure you don’t inject any air into it before you draw it.