Traveling with diabetes can be exhausting & scary—Here are some gifts that can make it easier & less stressful
Know someone with diabetes that refuses to deny their wanderlust? Well, first of all, bravo to them! But second, traveling with diabetes can be really hard! It’s cool that you’re thinking of how you can help with that. Having traveled with Type 1 diabetes extensively, both internationally and domestically—and often for weeks or months at a time—I’ve tried a lot of things to make traveling easier…and I’ll keep refining. This ever-expanding guide has great gifts for diabetics that will help ease some of the more stressful pain points for diabetes management while traveling.
I’ll also tell you a little bit about how I use these and why some are seriously essential travel items for me. (Like that time my insulin pens got frozen while on a flight to Europe…) I often travel carry-on only for months at a time, so packing smart and saving space is also key. That’s why you’ll also see some tech in this guide that might seem out of place at first. But read the details—I promise, there’s a method to my madness.
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TRAVELING WITH INSULIN: Diabetes travel bags & coolers
Especially for people with Type 1 diabetes, there are some serious logistics with traveling with insulin and keeping it cold. I’ve tried a lot of bags for diabetes supplies, from normal pouches & packs to those with the ability to cool or chill insulin. What it comes down to for me is a small bag that looks good but functions better. And being water-resistant and easy to clean helps a lot.
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Frio insulin cooling wallets – For short-term insulin cooling
These insulin-cooling “wallets” are activated by water and are extremely reusable. Good for hours and maybe a day of protecting insulin from high-temp excursions. But not for keeping insulin at refrigerated temps. (Those insulin coolers are below.)
48+ Hour “refrigerator temp” coolers for insulin
When taking a plane flight or train across a country, I keep opened and unopened/unused insulin in one of these insulin coolers and have literally no fears that the frozen bio gel will keep things at the right temps. When in doubt, I use the powered insulin cooler combined with this high-capacity power bank I’ll show you later on in this diabetes gift guide.
VIVI Cap insulin flexpen shield
Another that I’ve not tried, but it’s new on the scene since I’ve moved on to a pump. These insulin flexpen coolers are a little expensive at the moment, but as with most new tech, I’m sure costs will drop. I can see use cases for this where you’re in extremely hot temperatures for extended lengths.
Small, water-resistant diabetes bag
Nope. This little toiletry bag isn’t specifically for diabetes stuff, but I find it perfect for many reasons. It’s small (roughly 8.5″ x 2.75″ x 2″), water-resistant, and comes in some rad colors. Just big enough to hold all of my daily diabetes needs including needles, manual glucose testing supplies, glucose gels, etc. And it doesn’t scream “diabetes” like some diabetes bags do.
Glucose gels for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
Adding these glucose gels because I swear by them, but they’re not cheap in my opinion. (That’s why they’re a great gift for diabetics!) If my blood sugar gets low, one of these will bring it up about 50pts in anywhere from 5-15 minutes. They’re super handy when walking around a city all day and underestimating how much that cardio can tank blood sugar. Or just to have on the bedside during a mid-night low.
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DEVICE & INSULIN PROTECTION: Insulin sleeves, pump covers & CGM gifts
I have cases and protective screens on every piece of tech I travel with. My computer, my phone, cameras…and especially my insulin pump! People with diabetes may be carrying pieces of tech that are worth thousands of dollars—they need protected!
Insulin vial protective silicone covers
The minute I get a new prescription of insulin vials these protective covers go on. I’ve literally dropped insulin getting it out of the fridge for first use, so yes, they’re necessary!
Insulin pump silicone cover & screen protectors
To protect my precious insulin pump (that’s worth about $5k based on insurance…) I use a silicon insulin pump protector and an insulin pump screen protector. They make the silicone pump protectors for pretty much any pump on the market in almost any color you want. So if you’re buying these as gifts, just ask which pump you need to buy for.
CGM (continuous glucose meter) sensor protective armband
Admittedly I haven’t used this particular product, but the reviews are good. For those wearing a CGM on their arm, I think this would be perfect for travel adventures like ziplining, watersports or the like. And they make one that glows in the dark…which is just rad.
CGM patches – available in many colors of skin tones
I’ve used many patches for my CGMs, but this is the first company I’ve seen that makes colors to match many different skin tones. That’s well over due.
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EXCURSIONS & TOURS: Gift them a tour or excursion gift card
As a solo, budget traveler, I’m terrible about spending money on bigger ticket items like tours and excursions. That’s why I think gifting someone a gift card for Get Your Guide so that they can choose what to do in their destination is a great gift! (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…mom & dad.)
Finally a company came through with a fairly cost-effective solution for tracking lost luggage or personal belongings. Use these Apple airtags for checked bags, backpacks around town, or with other important belongings while traveling.
EVACUATION INSURANCE: Get back home during a medical emergency
One of the most unique gifts, but also extremely valid and thoughtful, for diabetic travelers on this list. Anyone who’s traveling outside the US should have travel medical insurance. I will scream that from the mountaintops until I die.
But most people are unaware that evacuation insurance is as important—if not more important—as travel medical insurance even when only traveling in the US. If a traveler ends up in the hospital and needs to get back to their home state, that’s where evacuation insurance kicks in.
That piece of mind is paramount for breaking through the fear and stress that comes with long-term international travel with Type 1 diabetes.
USEFUL APP SUBSCRIPTIONS: Streaming music, reading, & more
Access to many “free” streaming services is something I often miss when traveling. A subscription to a streaming music or reading app allows for downloading music and books for use abroad, especially where data can be expensive…or non-existant.
You can buy gift cards good for the app stores on Apple & Android devices which can then be used for streaming services reading apps (like Audible or Kindle), Netflix, or Amazon Prime, and meditation apps.
TECH & SPACE-SAVING: Gifts for staying charged
Again, saving space and having the power to make sure I can top off my devices or use an insulin cooler without access to a wall plug is very important, especially when traveling light. These are nuances of traveling with diabetes and all the tech that comes with that, but nuances are important.
26800mAh power bank and 32W/20W fast charger
It used to take all night to recharge a power bank half this size; now it takes hours. And having multiple high-capacity charging outputs from the high speed charger means I can charge the power bank and my pump, or whatever else, at the same time.
I’m also able to recharge camera batteries, goPros, etc., quickly while on the go with the huge capacity power bank. Game changer. Don’t underestimate these gifts! (Oh, here’s a multi charging cord similar to the one shown in the picture above.)
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY: Road ID with emergency information
One of the things I’m very aware of is that if I go face down while traveling, nobody might know that I’m living with diabetes and that it’s the reason I’m non-responsive. I’ve used Road ID since day one of my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis. And they’re actually somewhat fashionable and almost stylish, especially compared to other medical alert bracelets. They make sizes that fit Apple watches, Fitbits, and other tech we’re already using too.
THOUGHTFUL DONATIONS: Important diabetes charities
When in doubt, donate in the name of your diabetic friend or family member to one of the extremely important organizations working endlessly on our behalf.
They are the unsung heroes of people living with diabetes, and they need as much financial support as they can get.
Tough Love, Tips & Strategies To Help You Finally Kick-Start Your Travel Life…Or Go Full Nomad!
Been wondering how the hell all those digital nomads, location-independent travelers, and remote workers, travel “full-time?” Maybe you’ve thought about living that life one day, but you’re really not sure where to start.
Beyond giving you the stepping stones to dive into short-term domestic and international travel, this book will show you how long-term travelers extend those tools, maximize their budgets, and turn weeks into months…or even years…of traveling the world indefinitely.