A CONSTANT REFRAIN from many people with diabetes is their concern about the tricky business of travel. For diabetics, especially those on insulin, the prospect of travelling appears to be all the more incommodious and bothersome. Many of my patients are frequent travellers. Some of them spend half their lives travelling: at airports; in transit; in the aircraft; in hotels. They traverse time zones and zig-zag continents constantly and spend long periods in environments which may not always be in their control—a scenario in which routine is the first casualty. Often, when I advise my patients that they would do best if they went on to insulin treatment, the pat response I get is: ‘But doctor, I can’t go on insulin. I travel incessantly: across India, to Europe, to the US. How will I possibly manage?’ Come summertime, the mercury soars to 45°C plus, the Delhi sun threatens to burn everything and everyone in its path, and many who are not frequent travellers also head for the cooler climes of Europe and the US.
In either case, whether you are travelling for work or leisure, advanced planning can ensure sugar control and keep you safe. Preparation will depend upon the duration of your trip, whether you are travelling across time zones, type and timing of food that will be available, and whether any unusual physical activity is planned. Ambient temperatures and availability of refrigeration are also important factors to keep in mind. For example, if you are a vegetarian travelling to East Asia, you may end up surviving on a diet of bread and rice—simple carbs, which you avoid scrupulously while at home.
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