Nothing Keeps Blogger Sara Knicks from Her Passion to Travel
The summer before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I spent a semester studying in England and traveling to the surrounding regions during the long weekends. In the days before I was hospitalized with DKA at my diagnosis, I was planning a road trip with a few of my college friends. One of the first questions that I asked the doctor, while still in the hospital, was whether or not I would still be able to go on my trip.
Less than two weeks after I was given my first instructions on how to use insulin and was finally discharged from the hospital, my friends and I packed our bags, put on our favorite playlist, and hit the road. I made some big mistakes on that trip – most importantly, don't take your insulin unless you know how long the line is for the buffet. But I also learned something great on that trip; diabetes was not going to stop me from living the wandering life I enjoyed.
I love adventure and I love to travel. Being diagnosed later in life, I worried that diabetes would affect my ability to explore the world. However, since my diagnosis I have traveled around Israel, floated in the Dead Sea and snorkeled in the Red Sea. I have ridden a donkey in Jordan to the site where they filmed scenes from an Indiana Jones movie. I have spent a week driving across the country in my car with my mom. I have worked in Haiti twice, the first time six weeks after the devastating earthquake, and a second time one year later. I have traveled the world using different types of diabetes management and have realized one lesson is true for every type of diabetes and every type of travel.
I cannot be too prepared for my trips and I cannot over pack.
I figure out how much supplies (insulin, medications, syringes, tape, dressings, etc) I will need for the days of my trip and then pack double, assuming that everything that could go wrong will go wrong. It won't, but I don't want to be without something I need. Speaking of being without – my over-packed bag is always my carry-on bag when I'm flying so it's not affected by temperature or lost during a layover.
I pack extra test strips, extra meters, extra glucose tablets and snacks. I work and play hard when I travel, so I usually need to test more and eat more. Eating unexpected food can lead to unexpected blood glucose checks. I make sure to always wear my medical identification and bring supplies with me to keep my medications at the right temperature, keep my devices safe in the water, and test discretely when necessary.
There are many great companies and products available to make traveling with diabetes so much easier. With a little research and planning, and a big enough bag, I know that I can continue to explore the world and my own backyard while continuing to successfully manage my diabetes.
The last time I was in Haiti, I playfully picked up a toddler on my first night there. In one quick motion he managed to reach up for my glasses, rip them off my face, and throw them into the nearby gravel where one of the lenses promptly popped out. Who other than someone with diabetes would have thought to pack a second pair of glasses?