Travel Tips for Diabetics

Discriminated Against?

If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your medical status, you may file a complaint. Complaints about discriminatory treatment by TSA personnel should be directed to TSA’s Office of Civil Rights, by calling 1-877-EEO-4TSA or by mail:

Transportation Security Administration
Director, Office of Civil Rights
601 South 12th Street – West Tower, TSA-6
Arlington, Virginia 20598
Attn: External Programs Division

If you think your air carrier or their personnel has discriminated against you (pilots, flight attendants, gate agents or check-in counter personnel), you should contact your air carrier and you may also file a complaint with the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division (ACPD) by calling 1-202-366-2220. Additional information on where travelers may file complaints for travel service problems is available here.

On the plane

If traveling alone, be sure to inform the flight attendant in your section that you have diabetes.

Special food service or food service itself is virtually non-existent these days, except for overseas flights. So, bring appropriate food to get you through the flight.

  • Check your blood glucose more frequently.
  • If you need an insulin injection during your flight, follow your normal procedure. However, due to pressurized cabins, frequent travelers suggest you be careful not to inject air into the insulin bottle. In the pressurized cabin, pressure differences can cause the plunger to “fight you.” This can make it hard to measure insulin accurately.
  • Move around every one to two hours to increase comfort and reduce risk for blood clots.

For Foreign Travel

If you are traveling alone or going to a foreign country be prepared. Be sure to verify what medical facilities are available within the region that you will be traveling.

  • Get diabetes identification in the languages of the countries you will visit.
  • Let your tour guide, or another person in your group, know you have diabetes.
  • Learn certain phrases in the local language, such as: “I need help” or “I have diabetes, where is the hospital?” or “I need sugar.”
  • If an emergency occurs and you do not know where to go, try to reach the American consulate, the Red Cross, or a local medical school.

Spend a few extra bucks and get travelers insurance. If there are any problems that cause you to delay your trip, or if you should require medical attention while on vacation, the travel insurance will cover those expenses.

You may want to get a list of English-speaking foreign doctors from:

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT)
1623 Military Road – #279
Niagara Falls, NY 14304
716-754 4883 (phone) 716-754 4883 (fax)

Follow proper food and water safety in the countries in which you are traveling. If necessary, use bottled water to brush your teeth, skip the ice and eat only cooked vegetables or fruit that can be peeled. You want to experience the local cuisine, but avoid food or water borne illnesses that could ruin your trip!

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