Life as a Type 1 Traveler

Type 1 Diabetes Blog

Life as a Type 1 Traveler

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to some really great places around the country. It’s funny to think that the first time I ever took a flight on a commercial airplane was only three years ago. Now I’ve been to several places on my bucket list! Since beginning to travel more, I’ve been to Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and a few other really amazing places – including North Carolina twice.

Oddly enough, most of my trips have been diabetes-related, as I’ve had the good fortune to attend some really awesome diabetes conferences. It was a DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute in Raleigh in 2015 that allowed me to plan my first trip and I’ve been able to attend this yearly conference ever since. This year, the Leadership Institute will once again take place in Chicago, and I’ve been asked to share yoga with the other PODS leaders who will be in attendance that weekend. I cannot wait to lead some morning yoga sessions and merge two of my worlds into one – yoga and the DiabetesSisters. I think one of the best parts about that trip will be that it takes place during the weekend of my birthday! I will turn 28 that Saturday surrounded by my fellow PODS Leader – my inspirations and friends. No better way to celebrate another year of life than with some of my most treasured “sisters”.

I recently took a trip to Miami for a conference with the school I just graduated from, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was the first time that I’ve traveled while having diabetes and NOT wearing a pump. Typically, I’m covered in technology, as I usually wear a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) and insulin pump. However, I’m currently in transition while deciding which new pump to get (I’m a former Animas user), so I’ve been on a “pump vacation” and doing multiple daily injections (MDI) instead. I was so surprised at how much easier it is to pack and plan for a trip when you don’t have to remember all your extra pump and CGM supplies! Suddenly, being tech-less had its benefits (though I do miss the convenience of pumping), and I happily enjoyed the little bit of extra room that I had in my suitcase because of my lack of needed supplies.

Being prepared while traveling is really important. Even during my last trip, when I wasn’t worried about extra supplies, I did still keep in mind all the other things that help me live my best life with Type 1 diabetes. I made sure I brought an empty water bottle so that I could fill it at a bubbler (aka water fountain for those non-Bostonians) once I passed through security. I also make sure that I have several different choices for snacks that aren’t “junk” (or overpriced at the newsstand) and travel well when shoved inside a backpack or purse that is stuffed the brim as it is. When I fly, I like to bring things like dried fruit, nuts, and a few of my favorite protein/snack bars. I also make sure I have some form of fast acting glucose like small candies (Smarties are a favorite) or these great packs of honey I often buy. I never want to have a low on a flight or in an airport where I have to wait for someone to bring me something.

Since I have gastroparesis, I never want to tempt fate and run into a situation where I don’t feel well so far from home. This is why I am a little more selective of my choices and of the actual amount/frequency of my meals and snacks while on the road. In the past, I've even "meal prepped" a little and taken some food in glass containers within my bag to store in the fridge at my hotel. It helps me relax knowing that I have something I like and enjoy should I need that as an option. There is a delicate balance to maintain but, so far, I’ve never had any big problems surrounding food and gastroparesis while I’ve been on any of my trips.

Traveling for me is always fun and exciting. I’m even a person who truly enjoys traveling alone (and sometimes wonder if it’s actually my true preference). I love being in airports, even for layovers, because I’m usually just so happy to be on an adventure. I’m thankful my personality lends itself that I find joy in experiences others may find small, or perhaps even a nuisance, just part of everyday existence. I spent many years dreaming of leaving home, going off into the world, and creating more of the story I am SO in love with writing. That’s why I look forward to trips, even the boring in-transit bits, with longing and genuine heartfelt anticipation. Time is going by more quickly than I could have ever possibly imagined, and though I was certainly warned of this by many, it’s still something that frequently sits at the forefront of my consciousness. None of us know how much time we have until we have none left at all. I intend to fit as much into this life of mine as I possibly can. I know how blessed I am to have the opportunities that I do to explore and experience the world around me.


Hi Sarah, thanks for your article. I have been in a very similar situation some years ago, however (I'm in to pump therapy now) I feel that tech has given me more freedom, as you mentioned before, there is always a lack of space! I had an hypo once just when I was in the queue for the scanner... I was panicking. All good at the end, though :)
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Submitted by thediabeticsurvivor on Sun, 10/28/2018 - 3:24pm