Taking a Road Trip When You Have Diabetes

When it’s summertime and the living’s easy, sometimes you just want to pile into a car with your friends and drive off to anywhere.

But for those of us with diabetes, an impromptu road trip without proper planning can have dangerous consequences.

Does this mean you should skip the traveling and stay home? Of course not! Simply take precaution and plan ahead, and you too can have the carefree summer road trip you’ve earned.

Pack Enough Medication

When managing diabetes on the road, it's extremely important to have your medication at the ready. You should know ahead of time where you’re going, or at least how long you’ll be away from home, so that you can pack all of the medication or insulin you might need to last the trip. Also, be sure to bring any test strips or other supplies with you so that you can monitor your glucose on the road and prevent any complications.

Map Out Your Meals

As a diabetic, your body simply cannot handle a two-week vacation diet of convenience store snacks. Use your GPS (or even a good old-fashioned map) to locate restaurants or grocery stores along your route. Plan your rest stops around meals, and make sure you stick to a healthy diet plan. If you typically count carbohydrates, use your standing knowledge to estimate the carb content of the foods you eat. Or, if your trip is short enough, pack your own snacks and meals so that you know exactly what you’re eating.

Stay Active on the Road

A vacation is a great opportunity to see new places and get some exercise! As you drive along, take short breaks to stretch your legs and get your blood flowing. This will keep your energy up, keep you healthier, and give you ample opportunity to explore all of the hidden gems along your route (and who wouldn’t want a chance to see the largest ball of twine in Missouri?) Staying active isn’t just a great way to keep your body in peak condition on your road trip, it can also make it easier to return to your routine when you get back home.

Communicate with Your Cohorts

Most people don’t take road trips with strangers, which means the folks you’re driving cross-country with probably know you have diabetes. Communicating with your friends whenever you need to rest, get a snack, or take your medication will make everything easier in the long run and protect you from any dangerous complications. Don’t worry, your friends will understand, and after a brief pit stop you’ll be out on the open road again, making life-long memories!

Photo by John Nyboer

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