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Trouble-free travelling with your insulin pump

5 August 2019

Planning a trip when you have to remember essential diabetes kit can be time consuming, so we thought some travel tips and advice might come in handy. We also hear from intrepid traveller, Pete, who has been living with Type 1 diabetes over 60 years. Pete kindly shares his top travel tips.

Travel checklist

Remember to pack the following for your trip:

  • Plenty of cannula and infusion sets
  • Batteries and battery key
  • Insulin vials (quick acting)
  • Insulin cartridges for pump and pen
  • Insulin pens and needles
  • Test strips and lancets
  • Emergency contact details
  • Carbohydrate to treat hypos
  • Travel letter form hospital diabetes team (or GP) explaining why you need to carry the equipment
  • Details of how to manage illness/pump failure or loss
  • Read travel advice given by pump/CGM manufacturer

Airport security

It’s preferable not to put your Accu-Chek pump through the X-ray hand luggage scanner, instead explain to staff and use the walk-through scanner wearing the pump or disconnect and hand to staff member.*

If staff do insist that the pump go through the scanner, put the pump into Stop and remove the batteries before putting it through. Reinsert the batteries immediately on the other side.

“I have always refused to go through X ray scanners and be hand searched instead. Never had a problem apart from Addis Ababa where a really officious security guy almost had me doing a full strip search!  The letter signed by my doctor explaining why I needed to carry all the gear eventually did the trick and I was let through.”

While you’re busy moving through airports and travelling on planes you may want to use your temporary basal rates if your blood glucose levels seem to run higher or lower than usual.

In flight you will be asked to turn the Bluetooth off – check the instructions for use and the Quick Reference Guides for your insulin pump for details of how to do this.

“Some people advise (I do this) to disconnect pump during steep assent or descent (take off/landing) as pressure changes can affect insulin delivery. I know two people who have had hypos having not done this.”

Get in the zone

If your destination is in a different time zone, check with your nurse or doctor before you go about whether you need to adjust your pump’s basal rate

Extreme temperatures

Accu-Chek insulin pump systems can be exposed to and operated within temperatures of 5 – 40°C, while the Accu-Chek Aviva test strips can be used between a range of 8 – 44°C

Top tips

  • Consider changing your insulin cartridge more often that you would do at home, particularly if you notice your blood glucose rising
  • Disconnect and fully prime your tubing if it is exposed to excessive heat and sunlight
  • In the sun: due to heat, sun-cream/after-sun lotion or excessive water contact, your cannula may not remain in place for the usual length of time and may need changing more often
  • In the pool: you can disconnect from the pump for up to one hour at a time. If you wish to swim for a longer period, reconnect after one hour, monitor blood glucose, correct as necessary, then disconnect for another hour

*If you do not use an Accu-Chek insulin pump please check with the manufacturer for your insulin pump for advice on how to deal with airport security

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