Struggle Street: travelling with Type 1 diabetes..


I’m an avid traveler. There is no doubt about that. Adventuring, exploring, travelling, hiking, I am all about being outdoors and challenging myself. I have just come back from escaping to sunny Hawaii for a quick get away and I just want to disclose a few frustrations I have while on holidays as a diabetic.

Firstly, airports. God damn it airport security, I have had enough of your judgment when you see my insulin pump. No it’s not a bomb, illegal drugs or a weapon, its a little miracle machine that keeps me alive. GAH! Some tips I have learnt from these experiences:

  • Don’t ever hand over your pump to security; leave that bad boy attached to you
  • DO NOT put your machine through the scanner
  • Get a note from your doctor/ endo stating that you are a diabetic, that you are carrying needles and an insulin pump. I have had to pull this out a few times, particularly in less touristy countries. *Note- the country I have actually had the most difficulty in was England (Heathrow Airport). They needed a lot of convincing that I wasn’t a terrorist, but eventually after they ran all of their tests I was let through

Secondly, do not request diabetic food on the plane. I have made this mistake for you. It’s like diabetic hospital food. Your food envy will be real.

While on the plane, I find it easiest to change my pump onto the time zone that I am heading to when I first get into the air. This means that my basal will be adjusted to where I am heading.

Sometimes I find that when I have landed and I check my insulin in my pump, I notice a more than usual amount of air bubbles. I can’t say with any certainty, but I feel like this has something to do with the air pressure changes on the plane. If this bothers you, then best you change your set

Once on your great escape, it’s basically business as usual. Unless you are going on a tropical getaway… then it is a bit harder. I have just come back from a week in Hawaii and I have to say my sugars basically ran high for the entire week. Personally, I find beach days pretty hard.. mostly because I am very naughty and leave my pump off at the beach and just bolus every now and then. #whenonvacation. Although I run high on these days, I need them. I need the chance to just feel normal and relax for a day. Worth trying out some time (just don’t make a habit out of it).

Also, I think that it is also very important that you tell someone who you are travelling with that you are diabetic. I have traveled on my own around the world. Although this is a much higher risk as a diabetic, it is possible and it is great. Just make sure that you have a diabetes alert on you. I have a necklace that I got engraved. It’s not one of those super ugly medic alert ones, its more of a dog tag style with diabetic engraved on it. If you are travelling alone, in hostels or whatnot, be sure to ask at reception to leave your insulin in the staff fridge, not the common fridge. I did this all over Europe and just had my insulin in a bag with my name and email on it. I also made them aware that I was diabetic. If you are on a Contiki or something similar, mention it to your guide or make a buddy and let them know

I think that’s all for now.

To be continued....


Janine is a 20 something yr old living and working in Melbourne after recently relocating from Sydney, Australia. She has been fortunate enough to travel the world, finish a degree, live interstate, run a marathon, hike in the wilderness and she never let's Type1 diabetes stop her. Follow her blog at