June 3, 2008
Question from Hartsville, South Carolina, USA:
My 16-year-old son is traveling to England, The Netherlands, France, Germany, and Switzerland this summer. We’re concerned about him being able to keep his insulin cool during his trip. He’ll have cool packs, but back when I lived in Europe, ice was scarce. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Does anyone know if we can FedEx insulin to him, if needed? We’re planning on sending extra pump supplies with him, as well as syringes and short- and long-lasting insulin, just in case he has to go a few days without his pump (the manufacturer can FedEx a replacement within 48 hours).
Aside from prescriptions for his insulin and syringes, should we send any additional documentation with him?
Finally, if anyone has any advice for a nervous mom, that would be appreciated, too.
As you and your son prepare for his trip, be sure to look at our web pages on Flying With Diabetes and Traveling with Diabetes.
For general advice about traveling in Europe, see a previous question. With respect to your specific questions, the best way to transport insulin is in a Frio pack. See our page on Carrying Cases.
While you could FedEx insulin, I would worry about it being placed in a cargo hold where it could possibly freeze. Check with your local FedEx shipper about this. The local U.S. Embassy may also be helpful if this is required. You may want to know the addresses of the U.S. Embassies where your son will be visiting. If he has a prescription, he may be able to get it filled, according to the prior mentioned previous question.
Based on my daughter’s personal experience, I know that your son needs to have some kind of written identification indicating that he has diabetes for traveling out of France. My daughter was allowed to travel after showing authorities her MedicAlert bracelet and wallet sized identification card. Other types of similar identification may or may not suffice.
My personal recommendations: Get your son a cell phone that has service in Europe and an ATM card. It is much easier to get euros from an ATM than a bank or hotel. Furthermore, make sure your son has emergency glucose, food, and water on him at all times.