Diabetes is a funny thing, it’s not a solo entity. In order for it to be manageable, it needs to work well with other elements of our lives. So many things affect my diabetes including, exercise, diet, but the biggest thing for me is stress. When travelling with diabetes there is even more that can cause havoc to my diabetes: altitude, weather and climate!
In order to make sure I can travel safely, I need to keep many things in check, but there's one thing that I find extremely useful and beneficial to my diabetes when travelling and that’s travelling with someone else. Diabetes is hard work and when I travel with my boyfriend he helps assist me in a number of ways. He carries half my diabetic supplies (useful in case something is stolen and also makes more room for clothes!), he knows what to do in an emergency so I always feel safe if I am in a hypo or experiencing something new where absolutely no one knows me. The main thing for me, however, is that he keeps to my pace. By that I mean, sometimes with diabetes I get tired and when you’re long-term travelling this can be a difficult mix. There are days when I just don’t feel like I can trek a glacier or times when I’m trekking a mountain but experiencing frequent hypos. He is happy to delay the event or wait and be patient when things aren’t going well with diabetes.
I think having a travel partner that’s confident and is familiar with the way in which your body works, actually helps your diabetes “work” better. I don’t believe I’d be able to feel as confident when I travel if he wasn’t with me. Having a travel partner goes hand-in-hand to me having a great and healthy time!
As well as my partner, my preparation for travel takes months. It’s not just about gathering the supplies, doctors letters, flights, hotels etc. It’s mainly about preparing my body for what it will go through. I make sure my feet are checked and in good condition and I make sure I get my eyes tested to ensure my glasses are correct and my eyes are healthy. It’s important to do these months in advance to rectify any issues. I also need to ensure I am eating as healthy as possible, taking the correct vitamins and most of all, I need to make sure my HBA1C is in working order. I never think it’s a good idea to travel when my blood sugars are experiencing dramatic swings from low to high, you’re putting your body at an unfair advantage when this happens, so I try to keep my HBA1C below 7 for travel- my latest HBA1C after four months in South America was my lowest ever! So I think travelling agrees with me.
To ensure good health and to travel the world and do all the things you’ve dreamt is a relationship that needs nurturing. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. When your overall health is in good shape, then managing your diabetes whilst away isn’t such a daunting task. This isn’t to say I don’t fall into mishaps because I most certainly do- actually, when I was in South America, I had to leave a couple of weeks earlier because I simply couldn’t get my blood sugars balanced in the high altitude. It was disappointing but it was needed. I couldn’t justify sacrificing my overall health for the sake of a couple of weeks, and there is always time in the future to re-visit!
When you fall in abroad and you’re already in good health, it’s a far easier recovery process. Everything goes hand in hand- when you’re happy and healthy, your diabetes is a little more friendly to you. When you’ve got an amazing companion to help out on those down days and carry those supplies, your diabetes is a little less stressful!
I’m currently writing this from Dubai airport for my next adventure and I am feeling good. Stay healthy and travel far!