Here is a list of some travel insurance companies that have been able to help fellow travellers living with diabetes (all types) as well as tips from other travellers living with diabetes. Also consider the CHOICE travel insurance buying guide (March 2023).
A letter signed by your diabetes doctor/healthcare professional
- Take out travel insurance for both your health and belongings
- Make sure your travel insurance covers:
- pre-existing conditions
- the places you will visit and
- the activities you plan to do.
- Declare your medical condition/s and check if there are any limitations for pre-existing conditions such as diabetes. Australia has reciprocal arrangements for emergency medical treatment in certain countries (for those who have access to Medicare), however this is not a substitute for travel insurance. More information can be found on the Service Australia website.
- If you use an insulin pump, consider insuring it separately as well.
This letter needs to state that you have diabetes and is for you to show to the airport security screening officer if needed. Use this checklist
as a guide of what to include in the letter. We recommend this letter be sought as part of your annual cycle of care.Sick day management
If you become sick it is vital you know how to manage your diabetes during this time and that you have an up-to-date sick day plan and a travel-friendly sick day kit. Visit the Australian Diabetes Educator Association
(ADEA) for examples of sick day action plans and discuss your specific care situation with your diabetes doctor/healthcare professional.Insulin pump back up plans/pump
If you use an insulin pump, it is recommended that you know how to convert your pump settings to insulin injections if your pump should fail. You will also need to pack the equipment for your insulin injections back-up plan in case of pump failure. Don’t forget to pack some long-acting insulin as well. Have a copy of your pump settings recorded and keep it with you for easy reference. Often people using an insulin pump hold onto their previous pump and travel with that as a back up. Alternatively some insulin pump companies may lend you a spare pump to take while travelling. Check with your insulin pump company also their insurance terms if you borrow a pump for travelling.Time zones
If you are travelling across different time zones, ask your diabetes doctor/healthcare professional for advice on how to adjust the times and doses of your medications (including insulin) and any devices (CGM or insulin pump). Make sure these instructions are written down and keep them safe with your travel documents.Diabetes technology – manufacturer's recommendations
Download onto your phone or have a hard copy of the manufacturer’s recommendations for diabetes technology in regard to airport security scanning devices. Also make a note of their respective emergency 24/7 contact details in case devices stop working.Insulin and diabetes medications/extra prescriptions
Medicines are usually exempt from the 100ml limit on liquids, aerosols and gels when travelling by plane. Check with your airline for specific information related to the place/s you will be travelling to.
Check that your medicine or medical device is allowed in your destination country. The Smartraveller website
is a helpful place to look if you aren’t sure.
Check with your airline to see if you qualify for an additional carry-on luggage allowance for medical supplies.
Get extra prescriptions from your doctor for all your current medications, including glucagon if you have type 1 diabetes.
International travellers also need to be aware of any restrictions that may apply in regard to the quantity of PBS medication/s or medical devices that can be taken overseas (especially if travelling over a long period)Travel vaccinations and medications
Speak to your general practitioner or a doctor at a specialist travel clinic to work out what specific vaccines (e.g. Hepatitis A, COVID) or special medicine (e.g. against Malaria) you might need. This will vary according to the countries you plan to visit. Allow at least 3 months prior to your travel date as sometimes a series of injections is required. Packing anti-nausea/diarrhoea medication in your travel first aid kit is also recommended.Diabetes medication storage
Cooling wallets and cases are recommended for transporting insulin and injectable medications as aircraft cargo holds can experience wide ranging temperatures. Many medications are temperature sensitive and need to be kept at a stable temperature. The type of case you choose will depend on whether you can have regular access to a fridge/freezer throughout your trip as some need to be re-activated. Check the Diabetes Shop
for more information.Apps which may be useful
• Google TranslateMedicAlert bracelet or another form of medical identification/emergency contact details
Always carry identification and emergency contacts details. If you have a smartphone, consider using an ICE (In Case of Emergency) app. This will show your identification and emergency contact details on the home screen even when the phone is locked. Health apps are also available to store the medical information you might wish to store on your phone. Saving the contact details of the Embassy and public hospitals of the country/countries you are visiting is also recommended.