Joe's Diabetes

My Account

Travels with my diabetes

It’s that time of year again when the weather’s finally half-decent in the UK, so we all decide to go somewhere else… I’m really looking forward to my holiday this year with my girlfriend: away to Croatia for lots of sun, swimming, sleepy afternoons, and the finest pivos that kuna can buy!

The ‘betes is coming too, unfortunately. It’s always an extra faff to make sure you’ve got everything you need – insulin, pump supplies, hypo treatments, lancets, meter, test-strips, insulin pens for back-up and needles (and then add some more, in case of emergencies [and then split your supplies in case one bag gets lost or stolen {and make sure you’ve got a letter from your doctor saying you’re diabetic to smooth any possible problems at airports}]). On top of that there’s all there’s the inevitable changing of insulin: carb ratios as I start to exercise more and the heat makes the insulin become absorbed more quickly. That usually means hypos…

After that paragraph, I’m starting to wonder why I’m going away at all! But the reality is that the diabetes takes a back-seat when I’m away. The problems melt into the distance as you relax and just enjoy yourself.

That’s not to say I’m irresponsible with the old ‘betes, it’s just that whatever problems it causes seem fixable when you’re on holiday. You’ve got time to work out what’s up, and time to prepare for the day ahead.


For example, for a day of cycling and swimming, I’ll pack a bag with a Small-in-one as a back-up case for pens and a spare meter, some Jelly Babies for hypos (I’m a recent and zealous convert to these little beauties!), lower my basal dose and pedal off to a lovely beach!

I’ll also take some glucose sports gels with me. These are brilliant because the work super quickly if you’re hypo, but they’re also waterproof. If you go for a long swim, you can just pop one in a pocket and feel safe.

I’m also (somewhat geekily) excited to try out a little fix I worked out… Last time I went swimming in the sea I came across a problem with my pump. It’s not waterproof, so I had to take it off each time I got in. Not only did this limit my time in the sea since you’re not meant to be disconnected for more than 40 minutes or so at a time (which was annoying), but I also had to just leave it on the beach in my bag (which was quite worrying).

The answer to this thorny problem?

The humble sandwich bag! Just tested a resealable bag in the sink (I lead an exotic life, I know) and it seems to do the trick. I’ll still have to disconnect, but once I’ve got to a spot I’d like to stop at I can just get out, briefly re-connect, get some basal insulin in me, before returning it to the resealable and heading back to shore.

Will my control be perfect whilst I’m away? No, I can almost guarantee that it won’t be. Every time you change your routine, you have to allow for errors as you adjust. But that’s not going to stop me. I suppose traveling with diabetes is just like living with it the rest of the time: you’ve got to think ahead and be resourceful to stop it getting in the way of doing what you want to do. Sometimes that means you’ve got to take risks, and challenge yourself to stay on top of the ‘betes. You’ll probably see your blood sugar go higher or lower than you’d like and have to fix it. But when you’re sitting on a beach in the sun with the person you love you know every risk you take is worth it.