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People with diabetes can travel safely, provided a few extra precautions are taken and the travel is planned.
Those not using insulin generally have few problems during travel. The stress of travel may increase BGLs slightly. The decreased activity experienced in a long plane trip, together with the amount of food given en route often results in increased BGLs. These return to normal once a more usual lifestyle has been resumed at the destination.
Extra precautions before and during travel include:
- a medical consultation at least six weeks before the proposed travel to allow time to assess control and alter management as required
- checking of routine immunisation status and other medical conditions
- having a covering letter from their doctor and extra supplies of food, medication and monitoring equipment
- getting advice about special insurance
- finding out about Australian air security guidelines.
Australian air authorities stipulate the following security guidelines. If the patient is not using an Australian carrier, it is advisable for the patient to check with the chosen airline for applicable security guidelines.
- All diabetes supplies including testing equipment, insulin and glucagon delivery devices (eg syringes, pen needles, insulin pump consumables) carried on board must be in the hand luggage of the person who has diabetes and whose name appears on the airline ticket. It is not advisable to pack extra insulin in checked-in luggage as insulin exposed to extreme temperatures of the aircraft holds will lose efficacy.
- The traveller’s name should appear on the insulin and/or glucagon prescription labels.
- It is advisable to carry legible prescriptions for all medications. The prescriptions must include the traveller’s name, name and type of medication, and contact details of attending medical practitioner.
- The NDSS card is accepted as primary proof that a person with insulin-treated diabetes needs to carry with them their diabetes equipment such as insulin pen, pump, syringes, needles and glucagon kit. Supplementary photographic proof of identity such as a driver’s licence may also be requested.
- It is advisable to carry a letter from the attending medical practitioner that outlines medical diagnoses, prescribed medications, if insulin is used and, if so, the delivery device(s). The letter must stress the importance of the patient having to carry medications with them and include the frequency of dosage. For those using an insulin pump, the letter must stress the need for the pump to be worn at all times.
- Some international regulations set limits on fluid containers that may be personally taken on board aircraft. People with diabetes who need to carry supplies of insulin are exempt. They will be required to present the insulin at the security point and carry proof of their condition and need for insulin.
- People wearing electronic devices to monitor blood glucose levels or to infuse insulin should check with the airline as to whether these devices can be operated during the flight.
Rights of people with diabetes during security check
People with diabetes who use an insulin pump are not required to remove their pump at the security point. If the security staff request this, the person with diabetes has the right to request access to a private consultation room, which security staff are required to provide. People with diabetes are also entitled to make this request if discussion about their condition is required.
For more information visit about travel and diabetes, and scroll down to ‘special needs’.