Solo Travelling in Croatia with T1D
I‘m back with another travel story! As soon as we could safely travel again, I hopped on a plane to Croatia. It was one of my bucket-list destinations plus I really enjoy my solo travel adventures! You might ask:
‘’Don’t you get bored?’’
‘’Aren’t you nervous to be alone?’’
‘’Shouldn’t you go with someone because of your diabetes?’’
These are always the questions I get as soon as I announce my trip, and the answers to all of these are no!
In this article, I’ve covered three main topics in relation to travelling solo with type 1 diabetes:
2. Tips & tricks
3. How to manage diabetes abroad
This trip, I accomplished something I never thought was possible…I only packed a carry-on suitcase! As a person living with T1D I feel like this is a HUGE accomplishment, because of everything we need to pack. I did also bring a small back pack and this handy travel bag made especially for diabetes supplies that really helped to keep me organized.
So how did I do it? I limited my clothes and accessories to the bare minimum and packed as if I was only going away for seven days instead of ten. I brought laundry detergent to wash my clothes in the sink, in case I couldn’t find a washing machine (you gotta do what you gotta do!). I also used packing cubes (life savers!) and didn’t bring multiple pairs of shoes. My makeup consisted of one mascara and one bronzer. I also brought only two swimsuits.
The extra space was all for my diabetes supplies:
⦁ My Omnipod DASH® Pods
⦁ Dexcom G6 sensors
⦁ alcohol swabs
⦁ hypo treatment supplies
⦁ syringes or insulin pens for back-up
And you know, the list goes on and on. I created a complete list in a previous article if you want to check it out.
I separated my supplies amongst the bags mentioned above for a couple of reasons. First, I had to be mindful of the airline’s weight restrictions for each piece of luggage. Second, if I lost or had any of the bags stolen, I wanted to ensure that I still had some supplies to help me for at least a couple of days.
TIPS & TRICKS
Here are, based on my personal experience, the most helpful tips and tricks when it comes to travelling solo and with type 1 diabetes:
- Plan your trip! Some people love to travel spontaneously, and that works too, but from personal experience, I like to have everything prepared in advance, especially regarding my diabetes. I research insulin availability in the country I am visiting. I book my accommodations in advance and confirm there is a fridge to store my insulin. Purchasing travel medical insurance is also a good idea, in case you do end up needing medical care while away. And lastly, I plan how I will travel around once I get there (plane, ferry, train, etc.). All these things help to reduce my anxiety.
- Pack double the diabetes supplies! Yes, it will take more space in your luggage, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You would regret it if you made more space for an extra pair of heels instead of room for more test trips and insulin. Expect the unexpected!
- If you use an Omnipod®, you can take advantage of their free PDM travel loaner program! Give them a call a couple weeks before your trip, if possible, and they will ship you an extra PDM to bring along on your adventures. I’ll save you the search and include the phone number here (1-855-763-4636). Ensure to also have a print-out of your most recent PDM settings so you are prepared if you do need to use the loaner PDM.
- Bring a doctor’s note! I used it only once or twice over the years, but I was happy I had it with me because some airport security agents can be hard to deal with and do not always understand our devices and our disease. I ensure that the note includes the name/type of diabetes I have and the medications I take. It’s great to list the devices you wear too!
- Be mindful of the different time zones! If you wear an insulin pump, don’t forget to change the time in your settings. And if you are on multiple daily injections (MDI), ensure to adjust the time you take your long-acting insulin. Always connect with your diabetes healthcare team in advance if you’re unsure!
- Last but not least, bring/print small notes explaining what to do in case you have an extreme hypo or hyper episode in the country’s primary language. This way, if you do have an emergency where you need help from others you can give this note to someone instead of using a translation app. Ensure to include emergency contact information on it too!
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HOW TO MANAGE DIABETES ABROAD
I have been using Omnipod DASH® as my insulin pump and Dexcom G6 as my CGM (continuous glucose monitor) for years now, and I am so grateful to have them when I am travelling.*
My Dexcom helps me to stay in range, especially during the first few days when my body is adjusting to new food, time zones and weather. It also gives me peace of mind when I sleep, knowing that my alerts will notify me if need be.
Omnipod DASH is a great travel companion because of how discreet and comfortable it is! Each Pod provides up to three days of insulin delivery and I barely notice it’s there. Whether I’m traveling by plane, train or ferry, it makes being on the go a lot simpler. I consider myself very lucky to use it and to have it along on my travel adventures.
When I was in Croatia, I went swimming every single day. Since the Omnipod DASH is waterproof† and tubeless, I didn’t have to worry about removing my insulin pump and not receiving insulin for an extended period of time.
This reminds me of another great travel tip! When travelling solo bring waterproof pouches if you plan to spend time at the beach. I don’t always feel comfortable leaving all my belongings at the shore. This way, I can put all my essentials in one of these pouches. It’s not very comfortable, but I prefer it over someone leaving with my things!
Also, Omnipod DASH lets me adjust my insulin with the temporary basal and extended bolus features. Both can be extremely helpful with a change in routine. I usually will reduce my temporary basal rate while in tourist mode and sightseeing. I will also reduce it at night since exercise can have a delayed effect on glucose levels. As for the extended bolus feature, I like using it when eating at restaurants (which I often do when travelling). It helps me balance my glucose levels while tasting new dishes I am unfamiliar with. These strategies work for me, but it is important to figure out what works best for you by connecting with your diabetes healthcare team prior to your travels.
I hope this article gives you the travel bug and that you’re ready to put your fears aside and start discovering the world!