Tips for Flying with Type 1 Diabetes

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It’s about time that I share more tips regarding T1D and flying. I have traveled between the US and Europe quite a few times, backpacked Europe twice for three months, flown intercontinental Europe, etc, but just realized I only have TWO blog posts on the topic. I’m not sharing my travel history to impress, I’m sharing so that you trust me! So here are my tips:

Organization. Keep your supplies in a plastic box. This ensures that your supplies stay organized, cannot be crushed, and remain sterile. I use the big box, pictured below, for longer trips. The smaller box is for shorter trips, and the little bag is for a day excursion.

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

Never separate yourself from your medical supplies. Keep your supplies in a bag that goes into the cabin with you, not checked underneath!

Medical Bag. I wish I would have known a long time ago that most airlines allow for a free medical bag in addition to their normal carry on policy. See this post here for more info. My normal flying baggage looks like this:

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Pink backpack for medical supplies, suitcase carry on, Myabetic purse.

Airport Security. You should never remove your insulin pump or CGM for airport security, even if they ask you to. They are medical devices and shouldn’t be removed. In addition, most pump manufacturers, like Medtronic, advise not to go through airport detectors. THIS IS YOUR RIGHT. Since I’ve had a pump, I have NEVER gone through airport security detectors. I ask for a pat down because it is my RIGHT. I would never put myself at risk just because TSA pressures me with their usual, “just go through, everyone else does it”.

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Supplies. I bring 3-4x more supplies than I think I’ll need. I do not want to risk a failed site or whatever else could happen. I even bring back up syringes or, for longer trips, a loaner pump from my pump manufacturer. Check with your pump company if they will issue you a loaner pump, I’ve done this a few times with Medtronic.

Time Change. I have been on a pump so long, I can only give my experience with wearing a pump and time change. Once I get on the airplane, I change my pump clock to my destination time. The sooner I can acclimate to my destination, the better!

What other tips do you have for packing and flying with T1D? Am I forgetting anything?

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P.S. depending on your destination, I would also suggest bringing a letter of necessity from your doctor. However, I’ve never done this because as long as the medical supplies are labeled, and I can prove they are mine, I have no worries that it could be an issue. Also, I’ve never heard of any other medical condition where a doctors note is advised. Do your own research and trust yourself on this one πŸ™‚

2 Comments

  1. Hello! Thank you very much for sharing. I agree completely. I do, however, remove my insulin pump. I just simply unclip it and hold it so they can tell exactly what it is. I have had some airports that simply look at me and say, “She’s good to go”, and others, “What is it? Why can’t she go through the detectors?” For their courtesy, I remove it just to show them this isn’t fake and I’ve done this before. Completely agree on the detectors, though. With a Dexcom CGM I can’t even go through the X-Rays. The Dexcom hasn’t been approved on that, yet. thank you for sharing your tip! I hope this will help many diabetics in need.

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