Travelling with diabetes – Arthur Smith

It is summer and it is raining in Britain, so obviously it is the time to leave these shores and head to somewhere hotter. Yes, there may be a few mosquitos but – so what? There is a swimming pool and cheap chips. We’re all going on a summer holiday!

When diabetes first entered my life, I wondered if the condition might affect my enjoyment of holidays overseas. Would I get arrested at customs for carrying sharp needles? What if they lost my bag with all my supplies in it? I am sure I could find somewhere to buy some new underpants but where do I get replacement diabetic stuff? And what is the Spanish for ‘I think I’m having a hypo’?

These questions nagged at me and led to new ones. What about insurance? Will it be too much? What about the letter/ID thing saying I have diabetes? Will they want to see it at check-in? What about if lose it while I’m away? Oh dear, bet I’ll be taken into custody and end up in an episode of ’Banged up Abroad.’

You can dream up dozens of such concerns if you like – and it seemed I did like. How will changing time zones affect me? Will the pressure inside the plane make my blood sugars go funny? What will my body do if it turns freezing cold? Will there be funny foreign foods that might confuse me?

But these anxieties, I have learned in the course of numerous trips abroad, are fun to think up but largely unfounded. I have only ever once been asked for ‘the letter’ and that, of course was the one occasion I didn’t have the damned thing – no problem, they let me through anyway. All the answers to the other questions are answerable through a quick search on the Diabetes UK website.

So just remember to put your supplies in separate bags (or, in my case, give half to my partner Beth), double your medical supplies such as insulin, test strips and tablets, test your sugars often and do a bit of research before you go. And, don’t let having diabetes influence your decisions about travelling. In the unlikely event that some crisis occurs, relax, you’ll sort it out and enjoy – you’re on holiday! It’s exciting! Are we going home soon?


If you have diabetes then we can help you get travel insurance with AllClear Insure My Diabetes. They offer a range of levels of cover, both single and annual multi-trip policies, and have been a specialist in providing travel insurance for those who may have difficulty getting cover elsewhere.

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