Top Festival Tips by Poppy Johnson

With Glastonbury finished and the sun creeping in I think it is definitely time to announce “festival season”! But what steps should diabetic take to be able to safely enjoy this summer’s events?

As an avid attendee and lover of festivals here are my simple tips to having a healthy and happy time as a diabetic festival-goer.

1. Be prepared!
Of course you’ll have planned your camping gear and a range of outfits to suit all weathers, but you need to prepare for almost every medical situation as well.

Make sure you have plenty of testing strips, lancets and all your other diabetes equipment with you. Batteries are also important. If your pump/BG meter needs them make sure you have spares. Consider your phone battery life too as you’ll need to contact your friends if you get split up and maybe let the people back home know how you’re getting on!

The festival may only be 3 days long but you never know what can happen when you’re away from home and having loads of fun so I always find it’s better to be extra prepared. Plus, if you’re a young person, it’ll show your parents that you can sensibly and effectively manage your diabetes and help put their minds at rest while you’re away.

2. Be safe!
It may seem obvious but as a diabetic you should try be as safe as you can to avoid becoming unwell.
When you arrive at the festival find out where the first aid tents are. There should be some throughout the campsite areas and more within the arena where the stages and music tents are. If you are having problems –from feeling unwell to blisters from your wellies – the medical teams will always be there to help you out.

As always, be careful around alcohol and drugs. By all means enjoy yourself with a drink if you’re over 18 but stay responsible and re-hydrate with plenty of water (especially is you’re lucky enough to have hot weather!). Watch out for drugs and be aware of your food and drink just in case. Similarly, make sure your insulin supply is in a cool, dry and safe place to avoid anyone mistaking it for anything and them becoming very unsafe and unwell.

It’s also handy to have sugary snacks with you in case of hypos as you may be far away from your tent and friends with no money to buy anything. You will probably be searched as you enter the arena so explain to the marshals and show them your medical identity card/jewellery – a VERY important part of your festival ensemble!

And of course make sure you’re testing your blood regularly. Al the aspects of a festival can make a different to your BG reading – late nights and little sleep, irregular and less healthy meals, alcohol (if you’re 18+) and lots of walking and dancing around – so you’ve got to keep checking and treat yourself for highs and lows.
It may seem annoying if you’re the only one doing it but your friends wont mind you checking, it’ll become part of their routine as much as it is yours!

3. Have fun!
Festivals are definitely all about hearing good music, meeting new people and having loads of fun. If you are prepared and stay safe, there’s no reason for you to not enjoy yourself. There’s always loads to do alongside the music so get stuck in wherever you can.

From my own past experiences festivals will provide some of your best memories so don’t let your diabetes make you miss out!

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Purchase a frio bag to keep your insulin cool. they are fantastic and especially with the latest heatwave they are a must!

Be prepared for your blood sugars to drop while setting up – I know it sounds obvious to sums but some people might forget – you do use energy to set that tent up, unless you have got a pop up one!

Other good tips are:

Don’t EVER leave your insulin and tester unattended in your tent if you’re camping – keep them with you at ALL times.

Take your glucose tablets in a hardwearing and waterproof container that’s easily accessible to you.

If you’re heading into ‘the pit’ at a festival, try and wear something with either zip-up (best) or button-up (ok) pockets – this will make sure all your stuff doesn’t fall out.

Don’t take ANY nonsense from security guards who may be too stupid to understand diabetes and why you need to carry needles. Stand your ground and if they won’t budge, demand to speak their supervisor.

Get yourself something like a solar charger for your mobile – these are absolutely indispensable at a festival!