Travelling with your insulin pump
If you aren’t prepared, you can run into a few problems travelling with your insulin pump. Here are the answers to a few frequently asked questions to help clear things up and get you on your way.
What will be different the next time I travel now that I’m are using an insulin pump?
Make sure you have medical travel insurance that covers your diabetes and your insulin pump. Also, check if special vaccinations are necessary – these are available through your GP. Before you book any travel you should check that local medical facilities will be able to support you during your stay. Check before you go that u100 insulin is available in that country.
You should give meal bolus ideally 5–15 minutes before meals as usual and monitor blood glucose levels regularly and correct high and low readings as needed. Remember you also have the temp basal option to help with below or above target readings.
What will I need to take with me?
When travelling always take plenty of supplies including bolus and basal insulin and a means of giving it (pen or syringe). Some pump companies will provide a “holiday pump”. Order your spare holiday pump if required four weeks prior to departure date.
During travel, keep your insulin around room temperature or just below, but above freezing point. It is recommended that you carry insulin in your hand luggage, as it can freeze in the hold of an aircraft. If you have a travel companion give them a blood glucose meter to carry as a spare in the event your luggage is lost.
Sometimes in hot countries the warm weather can cause the adhesive at your infusion site to detach. Barrier sprays and creams are available to help maintain the adhesive surrounding your cannula. These are available from your GP or diabetes team.
Will I be able to go through security wearing my pump?
Yes, but do not let your pump go through the baggage x-ray machines.
Should I take a letter with me about my pump?
Ask your Diabetes Team for a Travel letter. This informs airport security you are wearing an insulin pump which should not to be x-rayed or removed. It also advises airport staff you may also be carrying a spare holiday pump.
What about travelling to different times zones? What changes will I make if I’m flying to Spain?
If the new time zone you are travelling to is less than 4 hours different to home then adjust your pump on departure or arrival according to your preference.
What about travelling to different times zones? What changes will I make if I’m flying to Australia?
If the new time zone you are travelling to is more than 4 hours different to home you can either:
- adjust by 4 hours on departure and then gradually adjust further over the next few days or
- use the lowest flat basal rate during flights and use correction doses if necessary. You can change time on departure or arrival according to your preference.