Traveling With Diabetes Without Limitations

Tanzania – What a Rewarding Experience!

I was so appreciative of being able to join friends to get an idea of what life is really like in Tanzania. We did this through:

  • Visiting villages, hospitals, schools, and homes.
  • Learning about their educational and healthcare systems.
  • Spending three days on a safari to Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti to take in the beauty of the land and the wildlife.
  • Hiking to waterfalls and up to Kilimanjaro’s Mandaru Hut.

My Diabetes was a Non-Issue

Well, as much as my diabetes could ever become a non-issue. The key was being in-sync with how my body reacts to certain foods and activities.

The Tanzanian lifestyle is loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables, rice, beans, and chicken and beef. I enjoyed several vegetable-based soups. Actually, it was more challenging for my husband who has difficulties with onions. Using wheat is not as wide spread in Tanzania but onions sure are.

Traveling Introduces a New Set of Variables

For the most part, I try not to change the management of my diabetes very much at all. Sometimes that’s hard. One potential snag is changing time zones. This can throw anybody off. My approach is to get myself on schedule with the new time zone as quickly as possible.

I’ll typically test my blood sugar more frequently and take short-acting insulin more often (though in smaller doses). This allows for the fact that, over an extended period of time, sitting on a plane doing nothing very physical, your blood sugar will naturally rise.

Be in What If Mode

What if something goes wrong? What if, for instance, my carry-on luggage gets lost, the luggage that I had my glucometer, insulin and syringes (or insulin pump supplies) in? These are possibilities you need to prepare for. I always take two kits with me.

That means an extra set of syringes or pump supplies, an extra glucometer and test strips, ketone strips, and extra insulin. It’s a simple redundancy system that puts my mind at ease. I’ll keep a kit in my purse and an exact duplicate in my carry-on.

If you’re on the pump, think about what would happen if you somehow lost it along the way or it was stolen or malfunctions. Maybe you can get a replacement, but maybe not. Best case, it might take a day or so. What will you do in the meantime? You’re probably not going to have another pump, so be prepared with syringes and both short-acting and long-acting insulin.

My Celiac Disease was also a Non-Issue

You’ll most likely be going to restaurants that you’re completely unfamiliar with. This unfamiliarity can become compounded if you’re in a foreign country. Fortunately, from my own personal observations, I’ve had English-speaking patrons, who happened to overhear my questions to the server, kindly jump in and translate for me. People are always willing to help no matter where in the world you find yourself.

Be Prepared with Food & Snacks

Of course, it’s always a good idea, no matter how far you’re traveling, to carry some food or snacks with you. Don’t always assume food will be readily available whenever you want or need it. What if you get stuck somewhere? What if your plane gets delayed or you end up lost?

Do It!

And if there’s one final piece of advice I could offer about traveling, no matter what your chronic condition might be, it would be this: do it! There’s a big world out there and you should never allow yourself to feel limited.

I’d love to read about your adventures. Share comments on a trip you took or plan to take.


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