Travelling Prepared With Diabetes

Today kicks off the eighth annual Diabetes Blog Week. The idea is that bloggers sign up to write about a set topic each day for a week, and readers can get a variety of different perspectives on the one topic. Here is today’s prompt:

Diabetes can sometimes seem to play by a rulebook that makes no sense, tossing out unexpected challenges at random.  What are your best tips for being prepared when the unexpected happens? Or, take this topic another way and tell us about some good things diabetes has brought into your, or your loved one’s, life that you never could have expected?

When I was first diagnosed, I had this attitude that diabetes wouldn’t weigh me down. Quite literally. I wanted to prove that diabetes hadn’t changed me. I wanted to prove that I didn’t need to carry a meter, insulin or jellybeans with me as a just-in-case. It felt weak. It felt like giving into my condition.

So if anyone knows a thing or two about how to travel un-prepared with diabetes, it’s me.

I once boarded a ferry to Rottnest Island, only to discover that I had bugger all insulin left in my pen  cartridge. Instead of trying to find a Pharmacy, I decided to wing it and somehow lived to tell the tale.

i remember going hypo on a Friday morning at work, with nothing to eat other than an overripe banana. Yuck.

I discovered a failed infusion site while I was away from home painting a house one Saturday afternoon, and had to drive home in the pouring rain to change it.

When my insulin ran out halfway through a lunchtime dose, I winged it again, probably running high until hometime.

When I suspected spoiled insulin earlier this year, I had to call my Dad to run some up to me work.

When it comes to travelling prepared with diabetes, my biggest dilemma is deciding whether I actually need to carry those supplies with me, or whether I am simply preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

I like to travel prepared. But I also like to travel as lightly as possible. Us guys don’t exactly have the luxury of handbags…

I’ll often stand in front of my desk before heading out, debating over whether I need to bring this with me. I’ll tuck things in my pockets. Then I’ll take things out because I feel weighted down and over prepared.

I’ve tried the whole keeping supplies stashed in different places. You know, desk drawers, lockers, in the car, in my satchel. In theory, it sounds like a great idea. The only problem is you begin depleting those supplies. And you have to remember to keep topping them up. Not ideal, either.

I’ve recently invested in a small, tube shaped pencil case. I keep all the essentials in there. A meter for travel, spare supplies in case of a pump failure, insulin, and hypo food. Those are my essentials. Nothing more, nothing less. I grab that case every time I leave the house. There’s no more dillemas over what to bring, or what not to bring. It’s not big, bulky or akward to carry. It can even stay in the car if it’s going to annoy me while I’m out.

There’s no easy answer to travelling prepared with diabetes.

You learn from experience.

And you do get better at it over time.

To check out other responses to today’s prompt, click here.


  1. Is it wrong I’m mildly impressed at the level of unprepared? Great pencil case idea. You may not have handbags but at least you have real pockets and a place to put your pump!

  2. Rick Phillips

    I like the pencil case as well. These days i carry a purse. One of the advantages of age, I get pockets and a purse. 🙂

  3. Are you even a real person if you don’t forget things from time to time? I have a handbag and I still forget things, so I think you’re doing alright. After all, your still alive, and there’s always something nearby that can help.

  4. Paul Stefanetti

    Seems like you have the basics covered frank.
    I leave little lunchbox glad bags filled with sugar everywhere i can.
    But it backfired last week.
    Someone broke into my car thinking one of the sugar stashes was a bag of ice.
    I sure they got a pleasant surprise.

  5. Aww, your unprepared stories sparked memories for me, I haven’t eaten an overripe banana but I have eaten warm, almost melted gummy bears that had been sitting in my car for a while-yuck! And you are right about there is no easy way to be prepared other than experience…great post!

  6. Frank,

    I can totally relate. I used to dislike purses. I don’t know what I’d do without carrying one now though.

    Over ripe bananas are the worst. There was the one time I went for a walk farther than expected and had to stop by my husband’s office and drink four little sweetened creamers because I was low and didn’t bring any form of sugar.

  7. I give you guys with D a lot of credit, because I’d be lost without my huge purse. Sounds like you’ve come up with a great solution though. Thanks for sharing it!!

  8. We always get in the most trouble when we travel an hour or two away from home. You’d think after almost 20 years we’d know better. And I’m with Karen, no purse? HARD!

  9. I love the pencil case idea. Even though I carry a purse (and also a diaper bag, these days), I may build a pencil case for diabetes emergencies. 🙂

  10. I went for a bike ride the other day. It was too warm for a jacket – I stash my meter & glucose in the pockets. So I grabbed a waist pouch thingy. I put the essentials pieces of my meter in it. When I came back I realised I’d left the glucose behind. Thankfully I didn’t go far. But phew! Still human and making mistakes after 24 yrs w/ d.

  11. I can’t leave the house unless I’m carrying everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) Elise needs. Including glucagon, at least TWO pods, and extra vial of strips, ketone meter and strips and tonnes of stuff for lows. I’m one of those “prepare for the worst case scenario” type people.

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