How Parents Can Manage Blood Sugar Levels On A Road Trip

Planning a road trip but have blood sugar issues? Worried about not being able to manage it? Here’s a quick guide on how to enjoy a safe trip with your family!

by Tess DiNapoli

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Whether you’re embarking on a short and sweet road trip in your state or a long road trip across the country, they can be a challenge while trying to control your blood sugar. However, the more you prepare and plan for your trip, the less of a challenge it is and the less stress, hiccups, and emergencies you will run into.

The following tips will help you develop a blood sugar management traveling plan, whether you are traveling alone or traveling with your family. Use this as a checklist for your next road trip!

Check With Your Healthcare Professional

Check with your healthcare provider before taking a lengthy road trip. This can be especially important if you have additional health considerations that could complicate blood sugar management. 

If you need insulin or some other medicine, get a letter or statement explaining why you need to have it with you. Make sure this is on an official letterhead with contact information. 

Your healthcare provider may be able to suggest foods to avoid during travel or alert you to other dietary hazards. If you are taking medication or insulin, they will be able to tell you how or if you need to adjust your schedule or dosage. They may also tell you to purchase a blood glucose monitoring kit to ensure you stay within healthy ranges. After all, you wouldn’t want to faint while driving, especially if you young children.

Also, make sure to tell your doctor where you are going, particularly if it is outside of the United States, or if you’re going to areas where communication could be a problem if there is an emergency. 

Keep Stress Levels Low

Stress is almost impossible to avoid while traveling, but you can minimize it with adequate planning. Research the route you are taking and become familiar with landmarks along the way. This will help you feel more confident if problems arise. 

Double Check Local Laws & Regulations

Some travel, especially if you are entering Canada or Mexico, may take you to regions where certain medicines are illegal. Some, like CBD and medical marijuana, may be problematic. Check the laws in the region you will be visiting and the areas you will be passing through before traveling. Again, this extra step may also help to reduce a whole lot of stress. 

Create a Medicine Bag

Your medicine bag is important. It may have to double as an emergency bag if you have a breakdown on the road or an unexpected delay, like a traffic jam. It should include the following:

  • All the medicines you need for the time you will be traveling. 
  • Blood sugar monitoring supplies, like test strips, etc.
  • Insulin, diabetic pens, and supplies for insulin delivery.
  • Sharps container for used materials.
  • Emergency contact information in English and, depending on your travels, a language common to the region.
  • Band-aids & gauze (don’t depend on the vehicle’s First Aid kit, if it has one. It may be incomplete or filled with expired materials and supplies).
  • Depending on your condition, you may want to carry glucose tablets or appropriate snacks for adjusting blood sugar levels.
  • Whatever supplies are specific to your health maintenance.

Keep this bag with you at all times.

Understand The Time Zone Changes

Be careful if you are traveling through different time zones. They can be dangerous if you make a mistake on medication that has to be taken on schedule. If you think it will help, calculate the schedule for your medication(s) before your trip and carry a notebook with clear instructions to yourself concerning each medication and when you need to take it. 

Carry Healthy Snacks

foods stored on zip lock bags
Photo by Bora C on

The foods you usually eat may not be available to you while you travel. This may not be a problem, depending on the length of your road trip, but you should be prepared. If you carry adequate snacks you will be ready to adjust your blood sugar in case of an emergency, and having healthy snacks on hand can help reduce stress. 

Carrying enough healthy food for one or two balanced meals is not a bad idea if you are on a special diet, since those foods (or brands) may be hard to find if you’re in an unfamiliar area. Pack a cooler with suitable food if necessary. Also, create snack baggies for anything that’s easy to pack. Here’s a list of easy snacks to pack:

  • Nuts
  • Grapes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Apple Slices
  • Crackers
  • Berries
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Celery Sticks
  • Tangerines

Monitor Your Blood Sugar Regularly

It’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels the same way you would if not traveling, or more often if you feel the need. Don’t lose track of your glucose monitoring device and any supplies you need (these should be part of your traveling medicine bag). Use it frequently if necessary. Also, keep a list of pharmacies in the area of where you’ll be staying so you can head there in case you run of monitoring supplies.

Get Exercise

Avoid sitting down for longer than an hour without a chance to get up, move around, and stretch your legs. This may also be a good time to check your blood sugar and make any necessary adjustments. 

If you find yourself on a long road trip and you can’t get out of the car, do isometric exercises. These are simple exercises that you can do from a seated position with no special equipment. Ask your physician what isometric exercises may be best for you, or research online for an exercise routine that you can perform while you’re sitting in a chair or a car seat. 

Carry Water 

Car interiors can get hot, so carry plenty of water, and don’t let yourself get dehydrated. 

It’s easy to forget about hydration while traveling, especially when it causes additional rest area visits. Make sure to drink adequate amounts of water at all times and watch out for alcoholic beverages and coffee drinks, which are diuretics. 

Make Travel Fun, Not Stressful

With some preparation and planning, you can travel and keep your blood sugar level under control. Check with your healthcare provider, prepare a checklist, and think ahead. Know your route, understand the places where you are going, and make sure your medicine bag is complete. Follow the tips outlined in this article, and you’ll be in a good position to handle unexpected situations. And if an emergency should occur that affects the trip, you won’t be caught by surprise. 

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