Tag Archives: traveling with Type 1 diabetes

Travel woes

I love traveling. I’ve driven across Canada twice, visited several states in the America, have fallen in love with the likes of France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Germany, and nearly every day I am dreaming of new places to discover. However, traveling doesn’t always love me.


Clockwise from top: Florence 2009; Bruge 2010; Paris 2007; Barcelona 2009.

As a Type 1 diabetic, I need to know carb counts for everything I eat in order to figure out how much insulin to take. At home, it’s fairly easy. I have product bags and boxes and containers with pertinent nutritional information posted. I also have a carb-counting scale that calculates carbs for a whole range of things, fruit, beans, ice cream, pasta, etc. But on the road, those tools are not readily at my fingertips.


Evening dessert: 1 apple = 23.35 carbs, which is rounded down to 23 carbs. At 1 unit of insulin per 18 grams of carbs, this apple is worth 1.25 units of insulin.

When Mario and I travel, we usually rent apartments equipped with kitchens that enable us to eat breakfast and some dinners at “home.” And generally speaking, I eat a lot of the same foods, especially at lunch (sandwich, salad, fruit, yes please) so that helps. And for the most part, my blood sugars do stay in line.

However, last weekend, that wasn’t the case. The girls and I stayed in a hotel in San Francisco. While I had brought reduced-sugar instant oatmeal along for my breakfast (not my favourite, but at least I knew the carb counts for it) every other meal was eaten out. And two of those meals were carb-heavy pasta meals.

My blood sugars went on a shrieking roller coaster ride that my body is still reeling from.

Before going on the pump, I didn’t know how to carb count, and I didn’t need too. After more than 20 years with the disease, I was pretty talented at eyeballing my food and guessing correct insulin dosages for what I ate. But with the pump, I couldn’t do that anymore as I didn’t have long-acting insulin to fall back on if I’d somehow screwed a dosage up. Everything had to be perfect. And now, after nearly two years of carb-counting insulin preciseness, that talent seems to have left me.

In the four days I was away, my blood sugars ranged from a head spinning 1.9 to an ohmygawd, are you freaking kidding me 18.1! And it’s taken a full week of normal routine to get them back into good working order again. What the F?

So, what do I do? I will not stop traveling, in fact, we’ve got plans for London and Italy in the spring, and yes, there will be apartments rented out on that trip, but what about the trips where apartments aren’t available and hotels are must? What then?