As I mentioned in my last post, Tobias and I are home in Denmark to visit our families and will be here for almost 3 weeks.
The direct flight from Los Angeles to Copenhagen is 11 hours with a 9-hour time difference on top, so it’s up there on the diabetes management complexity scale. Travel like this tends to throw me off completely since all the normal rules are off. My insulin sensitivity and my carbohydrate ratio (how much insulin I need per gram of carbs I eat) are just not the same as when I’m home. The combination of jet lag, the time difference, that I’m eating different food, and that I’m just plain tired, means that I cannot trust my normal diabetes management routine.
So how do I manage? Well, there are a few things you can do to make everything a lot easier:
Use a CGM or test your blood sugar even more frequently than usual
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is brilliant because it allows me to follow my blood glucose fluctuations in real time and enables me to make corrections before my sugars run either high or low. Of course, I could just use my normal blood glucose meter instead, but that only gives me a snapshot of where my sugars are at, at that exact moment, and not where it’s going (For more details on the pros and cons of CGM, you can read this post about my experience).
This time, I managed to accidentally pull off my CGM two hours before the flight. ANNOYING! I saw no point in going through the whole calibration process on the plane (it takes 2 hours for it to calibrate and my experience is, that it’s really not accurate for the first 12-20 hours) so I ended up going without. So how did that go? Well in the 30 hours since we left our house I’ve had 3 hypos. Double annoying! First was due to rushing through the airport to get to our gate, the second was during the night after getting to Denmark, and the third was during a morning stroll. I am pretty sure I could have avoided all three if I had the CGM on.
None of them were during the actual flight, which, when I think of it, is pretty normal for me. On the plane I just sit, sleep, sit some more, and eat. I bring my own food, and due to all the sitting, my insulin sensitivity goes out the window, which means I’m much more likely to get high than low blood sugars.
Bring your own food
I wrote another post about How To Bring Healthy Food When Traveling and it really is key to managing your diabetes. When all the normal rules go out the window, knowing exactly how many carbs you are eating makes life SO much easier. I always bring food for the flight itself and often also a selection of snacks (or even full meals) that will last for at least the first few days of my vacation. I may not eat all of it if everything is going great, but if I struggle to control my blood sugars, having my own food as a backup can be a huge help.
Know that the normal rules may not apply
Be mentally prepared. Sometimes traveling is no problem at all, and sometimes you will struggle with your blood sugars the entire trip. Don’t freak out if you need more insulin than normal or if you have more highs or lows. Test your blood sugars more often, and always be prepared (have sugar, snacks and insulin with you at all times). It can be difficult, but I have traveled A LOT all over the world and everything always worked out in the end.
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