The annual ritual of spring break is upon us – the time of year when students and teachers collectively breathe a sigh of relief. Some parents also use it as the perfect time to take a family vacation. I imagine most look forward to the time off and use it to visit new or familiar locations to enjoy some relaxation, activities, and/or sightseeing.
Spring break travel options continue to increase in variety and location, from tropical sandy beaches to crisp, snowy mountaintops. For those living with diabetes, these options are no different, however the packing and preparation that goes into the trip may be. Which is why I thought it might be helpful to research some of the top spring break destinations and find some useful suggestions for those with diabetes.
U.S. beaches– Top locations include: Panama City; South Padre Island; Miami. Along with applying your sunscreen, it’s a good idea to keep your insulin stored in a cooler while at the beach. As you’re enjoying the sun and waves, you’ll want to avoid letting your insulin overheat. Another helpful tip for beach travel is to keep some snacks or a picnic lunch on hand, just in case a snack shack isn’t close by or lacks the healthy options you may be seeking.
Foreign tropical locations– Top locations include: Jamaica; Mexico; Dominican Republic. Keep in mind that with many of these places in the Caribbean, you will be closer to the equator, which may make the sun and heat more intense. If it gets too hot, the American Diabetes Association recommends staying indoors as much as possible and drinking plenty of fluids. Be mindful to quickly locate a medical professional if you feel dizzy, confused, or if your blood sugar levels start to fluctuate due to the heat.
Mountains– Top locations include: Steamboat Springs; Aspen. It’s important to remember that dramatic changes in temperature and altitude may affect your blood glucose levels; so, instead of relying on assumptions, take the time to test your blood sugars to help prevent an emergency. Planning periodic stops at the ski lodge throughout the day will provide a warm, dry place to get your readings.
Europe– Top locations include: London; Amsterdam; Rome. A European trip may lead you to see plenty of breathtaking sights. But it’s important to remember that locating medical supplies and attention may prove more difficult in a foreign country. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers is a handy, free site that may provide resources for doctors and hospitals located near you. The American Diabetes Association also recommends wearing medical ID jewelry and learning how to say “I have diabetes,” or “sugar or orange juice, please,” in the native language of the country you are visiting.
Large U.S. cities– Popular destinations include: Austin; San Diego; New York City. When you’re sightseeing in a large city, be prepared for walking or waiting in lines. First, excessive activity, like lots of walking, may affect your blood sugars; so, staying on top of BG testing and paying close attention to warning signs is extremely important. Second, sightseeing may be unpredictable! Prepare with things like necessary supplies, snacks, and drinks for times when you may not be near a restaurant, store or concession stand.
Las Vegas– Las Vegas has been a popular vacation spot for years, and has also become one of the top food cities in the U.S., with cuisine on nearly every corner. Trips that include lots of restaurant eating may impede your ability to make healthy choices; this yields a good opportunity to use calorie trackers, like GoMeals, or be more mindful of the ChooseMyPlate guidelines. These tools just might help you stay on track amidst all of the tempting options. While you may be on vacation, your food choices can affect your blood sugar levels; so remember, despite the commercials, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
Theme parks– Popular destinations include: Orlando; Los Angeles; Cedar Point, Ohio. One of the best tips I found about theme park visits is to locate the first aid/guest services station on the map as soon as you get there so that you can ask the attendants to store your supplies in a safe, cool place. Bennet Dunlap, who acknowledges he is not a medical professional, also wrote up a nice post on dLife about planning for a trip to Disney, which you could likely use to help plan a trip to most theme parks.
This is also a good time to remind you of our travel tips post that provides some helpful information from the TSA if you’re flying. Also, the TSA has recently launched a toll free help line for people with medical conditions to answer questions and to pre-prep agents at a particular airport. They ask that you call the hotline, at 855-787-2227 at least 72 hours prior to your travel.
Wherever your plans may take you this year, remember that some early planning goes a long way. Here’s hoping that, whether your spring break is spent near or far, you enjoy it! Everyone deserves a nice break.
Happy & safe travels,
Cancun, Mexico Photo: Photo by Keith Pomakis via Creative Commons License
Attitash Mountain Photo: Photo by Attitashmountain via Creative Commons License
New York City Photo: Photo by Patrick Gruban via Creative Commons License
Walt Disney World Photo: Photo by bdesham via Creative Commons License