Calling all Parents of Type 1 diabetics! This one is for you.
Having a child with type 1 diabetics is quite common; did you know the UK has the 5th highest rate of type 1 diabetes in Children with the USA following in at 6th!
If you are curious as to where your country ranks, check out this interesting table provided by Diabetes UK.
Taking your first family holiday with a child with type 1 diabetes can be daunting, but it is not impossible! The key to an amazing family getaway is like all things in life… preparation; here are my top 10 tips to ensuring your holiday goes smoothly.
1. Bring lots of supplies. Depending on the length of your trip, you are going to need extra supplies- as a general rule of thumb; I always recommend and personally take three times the amount needed and split supplies between two people. This means you are prepared for any situation that comes your way- I always say it’s better to be safe than sorry. (If your child is on an insulin pump, many pump manufactures will offer a spare one to bring on holiday, just give them a call to find out)
2. Hypo packs. Prepare a “hypo pack”, this could be in a little lunch box that is filled with their favourite snack and sweets to take during a hypo. This will be perfect for days out and long car journeys.
3. Carry and wear medical ID. No matter how hard you try, sometimes your child can get lost in a crowd, and in the moments of separation, you need to be prepared, you will already be terrified they aren’t with you, so don’t add to the stress with something diabetes related going wrong. There are some beautiful medical ID bracelets or necklaces on the internet which look “cool” to wear, make sure your child has something that states they are type 1 diabetic.
4. Keeping your insulin cool. Whether you are going to a hot or cold destination, there is always the possibility that your child’s insulin can freeze or overheat and die, so I always recommend using a Frio bag to regulate the temperature of the insulin so that you can insure it lasts the trip. Most hotel rooms will have a fridge for you to store insulin, but the Frio bags are perfect for those days out!
5. Doctor’s letters. Carry a prescription of the list of medication your child uses or a doctors letter briefly stating your child’s condition and how it affects them- this is useful in case you need to get extra in an emergency, and it is also useful if you need some sort of verification for the use of your medication in theme parks, or certain tourist destinations (the Eiffel Tower being a notable one).
6. Amusement parks. These are always a fun day out, and did you know that as a diabetic you an access special assistance pass for your child and family members? This allows you to bypass the long lines for the attractions, which is really useful in the searing heat when hypos can become more common! Diabetes isn’t fun, but theme parks are, so you may as well enjoy more rides!
7. Further afield. If you are heading further afield and on a plane (lucky you!)…then things can seem a little stressful, but don’t worry! I have an article with lots of information about diabetes and flying to help make that section of the journey less stressful! Pump or pen, I have you covered.
8. Up in the air! Depending on the length of your flight, your carrier may provide a meal or snacks, check before hand, and if not, carry some snacks on board with you. Airline meals can be carb counted as usual and again, the Carbs &Cals book is great! Make sure your child wears travel socks on long-haul flights, but if they have some form of neuropathy, then check with the doctor first.
9. Food! Being away on holiday means trying new foods, or indulging on more food, and it’s no different for children- get yourself a carb counting book such as Carbs &Cals (who also have an app) to help you judge the carbs in any food that’s aren’t part of you usual routine, and have lots of hypo stuff on hand in case you over estimate (which we all do).
10. Insulin requirements. Remember that your child insulin requirements will change while your away, they may need more due to adrenaline and excitement which can affect blood sugars, or less if they’re playing in the sun, consult with your doctor on the best plan of action on increasing or decreasing insulin- its personal to every child with diabetes as we are uniquely different!
If you are on the lookout for a pouch for your child insulin pump that will fit their personality then check out Beta Pump Pouch.
Just as a reminder; if you think your child has type 1 diabetes or think someone you know might, remember the 4 T’s; Toilet, Thirsty, Tired & Thinner- Diabetes UK has excellent information about these symptoms and what to look out for. A quicker diagnosis means less chance of life threatening DKA!
So head off on your trip with confidence you have the diabetes covered & most importantly make memories with your loved ones that will last a life time! If you have other tips and tales then please do comment them below and I can update them in the blog!
If you have experience of travelling with a type 1 diabetic child then please comment below with any further tips and suggestions that you have for other parents just like yourself. We would love to hear from you.