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The Diabetic Toolkit

This post officially launches what will soon be a new part of our website: Traveling With Diabetes. There are some great resources out there already that I’ve used, but I wanted to combine all of that information with a personal twist. We begin with the diabetic toolkit.

At the center of the diabetic toolkit is the supply of insulin, whether it’s a set of insulin pens or a insulin for a pump. Only sightly less important is the blood sugar monitor and a stash of test strips. And finally, the third critical piece of equipment is a glucagon shot or two. The first two are used every day. The third you hope to never use at all.


My diabetic toolkit before I packed it for travel.


The medications you pack for your trip depend entirely on two things: 1) your personal insulin regimen and 2) the length of the trip. I am still very sensitive to insulin as a recently diagnosed Type 1 diabetic, so I take 1 unit of Humalog for every 17 grams of carbs, and I take 16 units of Lantus every 24 hours. That means, even for the last 5 months of our trip, I need to pack less than 10 of each pen. There’s a good chance our parents will meet us during our travels, so I only took about half the necessary supply. They will bring us the rest down the road.

I also stocked up on lancets, insulin pen needles, alcohol swabs, and lots of sugar. You never know how hard it will be to find predictable sugar (like Gummy Lifesavers!) on the road. Best to have plenty of extra when you begin.


500 OneTouch test strips – enough for a few months.


The diabetic toolkit goes beyond the basic medications. On the road, you encounter some strange food, depending on where you are, and you have no choice but to be ready for it. My toolkit includes a nutrition factbook for all sorts of different food, a compact digital scale, and collapsible measuring cups. If I have to pick apart every meal to figure out what’s in it, then I absolutely will.


6 Humalog insulin pens
4 Lantus insulin pens
100 lancets
100 insulin pen needles
2 bags of Gummy Lifesavers
Glucose gel
1 bottle of glucose tablets
Collapsible measuring cups
Digital scale
OneTouch blood sugar monitor
500 OneTouch Ultra test strips


My supply of Humalog. Each pen lasts me about 20 days.

Your toolkit may look very different than mine. That is, of course, absolutely fine. The toolkit depends entirely on what you need for your trip.

I also picked up one of those heating and/or cooling gels usually used on aches and pains. That’s how I’m going to keep my insulin cool while we travel, since it’s more than 90 degrees in Southeast Asia.


I’ll be labeling all of my traveling with diabetes posts using #TWD, so the posts and all related content can be easily found. I’d like to hear about your travel experiences with diabetes! How do you manage the trip while monitoring your blood sugar all the time? If you’re traveling long-term, is it hard to get your medications abroad? I want to hear about your experiences. Again, I’m new at this, so any bit of insight helps everyone.

For additional resources, check out these pages from the  American Diabetes Association, the Joslin Diabetes Center, and the Mayo Clinic.


I write down everything in my notebook so I can reference it later.


On a very cool note, I will be participating in a Twitter chat on traveling with diabetes with the American Diabetes Association. On May 8 at 1 p.m. EDT, their staff attorney, Katharine Gordon, will be on Twitter answering questions on travel rights and tips for diabetics. I’ll contribute in any way I can, but she is certainly the expert! We will definitely keep you updated as we get closer to the date.


Finally, at the end of some of my posts, I’ll be adding a quick little update on how I’m doing while trying to manage my blood sugar on the road. Here’s the first one:

2 week average: 92
1 month average: 92
Weekly high: 169
Weekly low: 66

See you on the road!


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