How can I travel safely with insulin?
The following tips can help you take your insulin with you when you travel and avoid unnecessary delays and headaches. It is important to remember that even though your rights to travel with insulin and diabetes supplies and medications are protected under federal law, individual Transportation Safety Agents (TSAs) may not always be so easy to deal with. If someone gives you a hard time, don’t waste time educating them, call for a supervisor.
Here are other tips for traveling with insulin:
- Always carry your insulin on the plane with you and if possible, do not store it in the overhead compartment.
- Tell a flight attendant that you have diabetes and what seat you are sitting in (if you are traveling alone).
- Transport insulin in an insulated sports “cool” pack, lunch box, or purchase an insulin-carrying device.
- Be aware the airplanes have pressurized cabins. You do NOT need to inject air into your insulin vial to draw insulin once the cabin has been pressured. Also, you may require more or less insulin than you normally do when traveling. Check with your doctor before leaving to see what his/her recommended adjustments are.
- Always carry MORE insulin than you will need (taking double the amount of insulin you normally need is a good rule-of-thumb when traveling). Also, be sure to carry a copy of your prescription for all your diabetes care supplies in case you need to get more.
- Do not store insulin in hot, cold, or areas of high humidity and avoid shaking or dropping insulin.
- Call ahead and ask if your hotel has a room with a refrigerator.
- Some theme parks have facilities for storing insulin. Call ahead and ask if the park has a health station with a refrigerator if you are not planning on carrying your insulin with you all day.
- Insulin is not usually damaged when passing through X-ray machines at airports. However, repeated exposure to X-rays can affect its stability.
- When traveling, it is especially important that you always inspect your insulin every single time before using it. While vacationing may be relaxing for you it can be stressful for your insulin!
- Wrap bottles individually to prevent breaking and excessive trauma and keep insulin in an insulated container to protect insulin from temperature extremes.
- During activities that involve a lot of movement (i.e. mountain biking, horseback riding, etc.) be aware that jarring and shaking insulin can cause it to go bad — and if you ever drop insulin, it is safer to assume it has been damaged and toss it out.