I have been compensated by Glucerna for this post; however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own. Talk with your health care provider about a diabetes management plan that’s right for you. #GlucernaHungerSmart #CollectiveBias
We’d had an exciting day. Our first family trip to Mexico – my parents, my sister and I. While it holds a special place in my heart with amazing memories, it also taught me firsthand about traveling with diabetes.
While I’d had dreams of visiting a certain theme park for the first time, I was outvoted and we instead headed to the Yucatan peninsula for a few days of fun in the sun. It was in my 20s that we really started traveling as a family. Childhood summers had been spent mostly camping and visiting grandparents, but as my sister and I became adults, our travels changed dramatically. Places like Hawaii and Cancun became a reality.
Little did I know that these destinations would also bring with them health scares. Which brings me back to that day…….that first family trip to Mexico.
Dinner at Modern Art Cafe in Cancun, Mexico.
We were reviewing the menus and my mom started acting strangely. I was sitting next to her and she had a panicked look upon her face. She was searching through her purse for something. I kept asking her what was wrong, what was she looking for. She wouldn’t or COULDN’T respond.
Now, she had been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes around 3-4 years prior to this. While she may have known a lot about diabetes, I’ll admit that I did not, and that is something I would change looking back. The entire family, even those who no longer live in the household, should really learn all they can about the care and management of the diabetic patient. I’d also recommend this for close friends and co-workers.
Though I didn’t have a lot of experience with her care, I knew something was seriously wrong. While I sometimes crater after the fact, it seems I’m fairly good in an emergency situation. I act quickly and take charge, and those two things can often make the difference in an outcome. It did that day.
My mom couldn’t communicate with us, though she was conscious. I determined that it was likely hypoglycemia (aka low blood sugar). She needed sugar and fast.
The problem was, we were in a foreign country, and in a restaurant where the waiters only spoke Spanish. Just our luck.
I quickly stepped away from the table and walked to the bar area – I had to take charge of the situation. I had a basic 2 years of Spanish in high school, not quite what I would have liked at that moment. I knew one word that helped – ORANGE “Naranja” – with that word and my vague attempt at communicating with my hands, the waiter quickly brought me orange juice.
Thankfully, my mom acknowledged the juice and drank it. In a few minutes, things were back to normal and we proceeded with dinner. No trip to the hospital or doctor necessary, though I’ll admit I was shaken on the inside by what happened. What had she been looking for frantically in her purse? Turns out, it was a squeezable vial of some sort to use in an emergency. I wish I would have known.
I’m forever grateful for the lessons learned during that trip. Why? My husband has been recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. We are just months into this and as we travel often, it has spurred a lot of conversations about traveling with diabetes.
Traveling with Diabetes is Different!
Diabetes can be manageable and under control at home, but traveling introduces a few things that one needs to be aware of and plan for. This is important for both patient, caregivers and traveling buddies.
Time Change – Traveling can be tough on the body, especially when there is a time change. But if a diabetic patient has a serious time change, that can affect the timing of taking medicine.
- TIP: Talk to your health care provider about the time change and how to adapt with any prescribed medicines taken daily.
Schedule/Routine Change – When you are at work and home, taking medicines at certain times of day becomes routine. That changes considerably when you are traveling. Meals are often eaten at varying times and because you aren’t in your routine, it’s easy to even forget to take prescribed medicine. (I’m guilty of this)
- TIP: Set alarms to notify you of times to take prescribed medication.
Emergency Care – Visiting a new city or country can be exciting, but emergencies do happen and it’s best to be prepared.
- TIP: Make sure to have all medication (prescribed and over-the-counter) with you at all times.
- TIP: Carry the name and phone numbers of your personal doctors and pharmacy.
- TIP: Research the name, location and phone numbers of doctors/hospitals in the area you will be traveling to. Keep it with you at all times. This is especially important in a foreign country. NOTE: This is one reason I love traveling to resorts that have medical staff on site. If you need recommendations for this, email me!
Stress – Preparing for a trip can add unexpected stress and anxiety to your routine. You know, packing til 2am or rushing to the airport. Stress can affect blood sugar levels, so plan accordingly to help reduce the stress and know the signs of diabetic distress.
Heat and Exercise – A favorite place to vacation may also expose you to more heat and exercise than your body is used to. I’m thinking of beach vacations and those trips to theme parks with all that walking. This can affect blood sugar levels, so once again plan accordingly and watch for signs of distress.
Low Blood Sugar (aka Hypoglycemia) – This is what happened to my mom in Cancun. Truth be told, this is something that can affect anyone, even my 8-year old. I can tell if her blood sugar has gotten low and it’s time to eat just by her behavior. While a great combo of protein and carbs is ideal for regular snacks, when one has low blood sugar as a diabetic, there is often a need to have something quickly accessible with a high level of sugar.
- TIP: Keep something like orange juice (I always had small cans in my purse when I was with my mom) or hard candies on your person at all times.
Food Availability – When traveling, plans can change often. I’m thinking of getting stuck on the runway in an airplane, having all restaurants/shops closed when you land at the airport or arrive at the hotel. Normally it might not be a problem, but it could be.
- TIP: While traveling, take food with you in a carryon (purse, backpack, etc). A great option –> Glucerna® Hunger Smart™ Shakes.
Why do I love the option of having Glucerna® Hunger Smart™ Shakes on hand when traveling? It’s the combo of protein and carbs!
Each satisfying Glucerna® Hunger Smart™ Shake has 15 grams of protein to help manage hunger, and CARBSTEADY®, which includes slowly digestible carbohydrates designed to help minimize blood sugar spikes.
So here’s the scoop about Glucerna® Hunger Smart™ Shakes! They are designed for people with diabetes and for use under medical supervision.
6 Packs are available to purchase – I find them at my local Walmart – in two flavors, Chocolate or Vanilla. Each shake has 6 grams of sugars and 1 carb choice per bottle plus they are an excellent source of 25 vitamins and minerals and provide a good source of fiber to help support digestive tract health.
If weight loss is part of your diabetes care plan (it not always is), it’s important to note that they have 50% more protein than the leading weight loss shakes AND also have 66% less sugar. A great option for so many trying to manage hunger while dealing with diabetes.
Best of all, Glucerna also contain CarbSteady, which allows carbs to be released slowly over time and prevents blood sugar spikes. This is perhaps the most important thing to my family as steady sugar is the goal.
- TIP: If you are traveling via air, remember that the Shakes are liquid and should be packed in your checked luggage to make sure they get through security. Other options are best for carryons (backpack, purse, etc).
In Walmart, I found the Shakes in the Diabetes Care aisle, close to the blood sugar monitors. And…..right now there is an incredible deal available:
Travel is often a necessary part of a diabetic’s life, whether for work or play. There is no need to fear traveling, just a need to be prepared.
In my family, what I’ve learned over the years is to be flexible with plans and that everyone in the travel party needs to know and understand the care of the patient……the medicines, where they are, what signs of distress to look for, etc. It can make a huge difference and can help ensure a wonderful and event-free trip while traveling with diabetes.
Have you ever traveled with diabetes yourself or have you ever traveled with someone who has diabetes? What are you best tips?