By Karen Wood
Like many people, I have always wanted to explore the world. For me, Europe was my biggest desire. However, there were some things that I felt were always standing in my way.
Not having enough money or time off work, not having a travelling companion or being too worried about my pets. Then there was the fact that I'd never been on an international flight before, let alone to the other side of the world! Oh, and I have type 1 diabetes.
This held me back for years, but my desire to travel was niggling at me for so long that eventually a friend talked me into going on my own. I sorted out my finances, somehow convinced my boss work would survive without me and found a friend to look after my pets.
I booked a tour that would visit the majority of what I wanted to see; that little tower in Paris, beautiful green hills and snow-white slopes in Switzerland, the classics in Italy (the Leaning tower, Tuscan region, the amazing Colosseum, Pompeii), the incredible views and history in Dubrovnik, the recovering Mostar, the young friendly vibe of Ljubljana, gorgeous Prague, beer halls in Munich, the picturesque Rhine river in Germany, and more. Me, at the hotel in Wilderswil, with the Jungfraujoch in the background
Although having type 1 diabetes meant I would need to carry a multitude of extra things, be more prepared for meals and exercise than everyone else, and have some sort of idea of available medical facilities and necessities nearby should anything go wrong, I never felt like diabetes would hold me back. Diabetes is part of who I am... it has been for the last 25 years.
I was organised and prepared for the trip. I took twice the supplies I would need plus a copy of my cards and scripts. I erred on the side of caution with my blood glucose level targets (I aimed to keep them a little higher to prevent hypos), I also changed the way I bolused my mealtime insulin to give me a little more flexibility, I wore a medic-ID necklace and decided to tell the tour leader and a few in the group that I have diabetes.
Whilst in Switzerland, we stayed in Wilderswil, a small town just outside of Interlaken. It is such a beautiful spot, with gorgeous views of Jungfraujoch; the saddle in between mountain peaks Jungfrau & Mönch, in the Bernese Alps. We took four different trains to get to Jungfraujoch, the last one being quite steep and slow. It’s the highest railway station in Europe, at 3454m above sea level. Despite being informed of the effects of the high altitude, once outside in the snow at the top, I was surprised to notice the difference in my breathing. This surprise was quickly overtaken by the jaw dropping views! As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but snow and clouds. I felt incredibly relaxed and as if I had escaped all of life's realities. I loved walking around at the top of Jungfraujoch and I left there with a huge desire to do more hiking, especially in the mountains. The Breath-taking Jungfraujoch
Along with the wonderful views and experiences, I still had to ensure I remained vigilant about my diabetes. I was constantly thinking about how much carbohydrate will be in a new meal I'd never eaten before, how much walking I will do in a day, and what the absolute essentials were that I needed.
Despite this, I knew that no matter where I am in the world, I would still need to think about these things. So, I concluded, why not while travelling around some of the most amazing, beautiful, historical and interesting places in the world?
I have learned that diabetes won’t stop me living the life I want, and I cannot wait for my next adventure.
View these resources for more information on travelling while living with diabetes.https://www.diabetesvic.org.au/Travel-and-diabetes https://www.ndss.com.au/diabetes-and-travelhttps://www.ndss.com.au/travelKaren is from Melbourne and has been living with type 1 diabetes for 25 years. She works as an office manager in a small business and has two pets – a dog and a newly adopted cat. She loves yoga and spending time with friends and family. Karen is looking forward to her next overseas adventure.All views, opinions, product endorsements and/or dietary recommendations expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, product endorsements or dietary recommendations of Diabetes Victoria, or its affiliate organisations. Any medical advice should be sought from an accredited diabetes educator. For further information Please call 1300 136 588.