My go-to insulated insulin cases to avoid freezing insulin flexpens or vials

Gifts For Diabetic Travelers—Essential Travel Items & Unexpected Gifts For Traveling Diabetics

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.

Keep in mind that some of these gifts aren’t “just for travelers.” Many can be extremely helpful in the daily life of someone with diabetes.

Jason The Nomad Experiment diabetes continuous glucose monitor

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.

Cover and spread of hiking journal for diabetics
This hiking journal was specifically designed for those that love hiking but need to better track and learn how it affects their glucose management. Check it out here!

About Jason Robinson // The Nomad Experiment

Having not seen his 3rd country until age 40, then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 42, Jason encourages and empowers others with a fear of travel, or of traveling with major medical conditions, to push through and live an unconventional life.
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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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My go-to insulated insulin cases to avoid freezing insulin flexpens or vials
My go-to insulated insulin travel coolers cases for insulin vials or flexpens

These diabetes travel bags and coolers are extremely situational!

I own many different styles of coolers for insulin and use them all differently, depending on the circumstances.

image of FRIO insulin coolers
FRIO insulin coolers for keeping insulin cool but not at refrigerator temps

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.)

My go-to insulated insulin cases to avoid freezing insulin flexpens or vials
The left is bio gel only, the right is bio gel or powered.

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 cooler
Vivi Cap insulin flexpen cooler

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.

Magnetic, beltless waist pouch

I used this magnetic waist pouch specifically for my insulin pump when I was working as a server. It held my pump and my phone and an emergency glucose gel, so I had everything I needed. Perfect for runs or gym trips too.

Transcend glucose gels for diabetics
These glucose gels taste way better than chewables. I always have some on me.

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.

READ NEXT: I Just Got Diagnosed With Diabetes And I’m FREAKING OUT!
The Learn To Travel Series: A Brief Apology To Fear

Photo of a huge fern gardens at Monserrate Palace in Sintra Portugal
My Road ID emergency bracelet…next to a giant fern frond in Portugal!

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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!

Protective silicone insulin vial covers
Protective silicone insulin vial covers

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!

And they’re great for travel since even when insulin is in a cooler they can rattle around.

t:slim X2 insulin pump with silicon case and screen protector
My actual t:slim X2 insulin pump with silicon case and screen protector

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.

Dexcom G6 protective arm band
Dexcom G6 protective arm band

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.)

They have “over 60,000 tours, activities, and attractions in over 3,600 global destinations,” so there’s plenty to choose from.

And some experiences are very inexpensive, so a decent gift card could net them a handful of experiences if they don’t blow it all on one big spend.

Travel tours image
Over 60,000 things to do all over the world

Just search “Gift Card” in their search field or go here directly. Honestly, this is another gift for travelers with diabetes, but just a great gift idea in general, for anyone! 

four apple airtags
Apple airtags for finding lost luggage, etc.

Apple airtags

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.

When I finally learned about evacuation insurance, it gave me huge piece of mind that I would be able to get back to the US no matter what happened.

That piece of mind is paramount for breaking through the fear and stress that comes with long-term international travel with Type 1 diabetes.

READ NEXT: Travel Medical Insurance, Pre-Existing Conditions, & Type 1 Diabetes
Research Medical Evacuation Insurance Plans

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.

It makes sure that music is there when we “need” it. When sh*t hits the fan and I’m at my lowest, there are certain artists and albums that I know will get me back to zero.

That’s really important for getting back sanity and avoiding emotional exhaustion when traveling with diabetes.

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.

The Travel Book By Lonely Planet cover and spread
One of my favorite travel books for inspiration

The Travel Book

This book gets picked up many times a year when I’m looking for new places to go. The Travel Book is one of three in a series that Lonely Planet produced. I also cross-reference this “Cities” book regularly. A beautiful gift for anyone that wants to travel…everywhere.

READ NEXT: UPDATED: Safe Traveling Tips For Noobs—Stay Safe & Reduce Travel Anxiety
What Do You Want To Be When You “Grow Up?” — Be Encourageous.

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.

High capacity power bank and charger
High capacity 26800mAh power bank and 32W/20W fast charger

26800mAh power bank and 32W/20W fast charger

Honestly, I recently upgraded to this high-capacity power bank and high-capacity charger for the current trip I’m on in Spain and Africa…but I underestimated how much they would make my life easier.

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.)

Hand wearing Road ID bracelet with hospital admittance bracelet
Unfortunately yes, that really is my Road ID bracelet next to a hospital admittance bracelet…

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.

READ NEXT: Books for Inspiration, Motivation, & Generally Slaying it at Adulting
Travel Medical Insurance, Pre-Existing Conditions, & Type 1 Diabetes

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.

These organizations not only provide needed information and support when we are in dark places and low moments, but they work to fight the politics of high insulin prices and durable medical supply prices.

They are the unsung heroes of people living with diabetes, and they need as much financial support as they can get.

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The beginner traveler's guide to going nomad book by Jason A. Robinson

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.

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