Have insulin, will travel

Ah, you can never pack lightly when you’re a diabetic, can you? I just recently took a 3-day trip to Atlanta, and I swear half my bag was diabetes supplies! (That and shoes, but I digress).

Not including my diabetes supplies!

I’ve never had an issue when going through airport Security wearing my pump. Occasionally (and lately, more and more), I’m pulled aside by Security and they’ll swab my hands after I touch my pump. No biggie. And one time, when I traveled to Buenos Aires, Security wanted me to take my pump off (because it looks like a beeper, I think). I tried to explain what it was by saying “insulina, insulina” and that finally worked.

Here are some tips for what to pack when you travel. As they say, don’t leave home without it!

  • At least twice as much medication as you think you’ll need. (For insulin, I usually bring a new bottle of insulin in its box and with the prescription information on it. For my oral medications, I bring the original, labeled medication bottles, even though that takes up more room in my luggage).
  • Pump supplies (I usually pack 3x times what I think I’ll need for infusion sets and reservoirs. I also try to set up a new infusion set just prior to going on my trip so that I won’t have to change it for a few days).
  • CGM supplies (sensors, transmitter, charger, inserter and tape)
  • Syringes (Even if you use a pump, you may need to give yourself injections if something fails)
  • Batteries
  • Glucometer and charger
  • Test Strips
  • Glucose tablets (or hard candy, in case you experience an LBS)
  • Food/Snacks (I usually carry peanut butter crackers or pretzels and something sweet, just in case)

Do make sure that some of your supplies and medications are packed in your carry-on, if you’re traveling by plane. (I usually split them between my carry-on and my checked baggage, although I always carry my insulin with me). Not only might your luggage travel somewhere else, but you don’t want your medication exposed to extreme temperatures.

And test regularly! Traveling, time zones, and being out of your routine can all contribute to unexpected blood sugar behavior.

Here are some great resources for traveling tips for diabetics:

What do you do when you travel? Please share your tips and advice.

And safe travels, everyone!


Why does insulin smell like Band-Aids?

I’m sure you’re at the edge of your seat waiting to hear the answer to that question. (It has bugged me for many years, especially the day I broke not one, but two, vials of insulin on my tile floor).

Just today, the subject came up again. My husband walked into the kitchen from a completely different side of the house and said, “I smell insulin.” (I had just refilled my insulin pump – without spilling a single drop, I might add). To which I responded, “Then you smell Band-Aids.”

Which is when I decided it was about time to do some internet sleuthing (AKA googling), from which I discovered that it has to do with a chemical (meta-cresol) that is used in preserving and stabilizing many brands of insulin. (My drug of choice is Novolog). Meta-cresol is also used in many medical and antiseptic products. And…you got it – Band-Aids is one of them. Voilà!

Apparently, scotch also smells like Band-Aids…but I’ll leave that one to you.