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Ready for takeoff?

At long last. That vacation you've been dreaming about is finally here. As you plan your sightseeing excursions, hone your list of must-try restaurants and break in your new walking shoes, spend a little time planning for the flight itself. A few smart steps now can help you avoid any surprises in the airport and in the air.

Going through security.
Navigating the security rules can be pretty taxing, although a quick look at the Transportation Security Administration site will fill you in on the latest.

The TSA rules make it clear that you can bring diabetes-related supplies, equipment and medications through the security checkpoint, although they will need to be X-rayed or hand inspected.1,2,3

  • Insulin and preloaded dispensing items such as syringes or pens
  • Unlimited unused syringes when accompanied by insulin or another injectable medication
  • Lancets, meters and all other testing supplies
  • Insulin pump and supplies
  • Glucagon kit
  • Ketone test strips
  • Used syringes, if they're in a hard-surface disposal container
  • Juice, gel icing tubes or other items needed to treat or prevent hypoglycemia
  • Freezer or gel packs
  • Any other related medication, equipment and supplies

Explain to the security officer that you're carrying diabetes supplies so they can be properly screened. And if you're wearing a pump or continuous glucose monitor, check with the manufacturer. You may be able to go through the metal detector without disconnecting, and you can always ask for a pat-down and visual inspection instead.4 The TSA site asks that you inform the officer conducting the screening about your insulin pump or CGM.3

Your medically necessary liquids can be in containers larger than 3.4 ounces, and don't have to be put in a zip-top bag, but you are asked to remove them from your hand luggage to declare them.1,2

On the way.
A few tips to keep you feeling your best.

  • Bring plenty of snacks—for the airport and on the plane. You never know when a flight may be delayed. What's more, many flights offer no more than in-flight beverage service. You never know when you'll have to provide your own meal.
  • If there is an on-board meal, wait until you see the food cart coming down the aisle before you take any pre-meal insulin.5
  • Keep your watch set to your home time zone until the morning after you arrive, so you can stick to your regular medication schedule, or the one you and your doctor agreed to before the trip.5
  • Let the flight attendant know you have diabetes, especially if you're traveling alone.
  • Check your blood sugar often, to make sure the excitement, time zones, or changes in activity and eating aren't throwing off your control.5

No matter how exciting it is to travel, when it comes to diabetes, you want an utterly uneventful trip.

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1American Diabetes Association. What can I bring with me? Available at: Accessed April 28, 2016.

2Travel Security Administration. Special procedures: disabilities and medical: medications. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2016.

3Travel Security Administration. Special procedures: disabilities and medical: external medical devices. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2016.

4American Diabetes Association. Fact sheet—air travel and diabetes. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2016.

5American Diabetes Association. When you travel. Available at: Accessed April 28, 2016.

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