Travelling with an insulin pump

Important information to consider when travelling with your insulin pump.

If you have an insulin pump and you’re planning to travel, there are a few things you’ll need to consider to make sure you don’t run into any problems.

It may be advisable to carry a medical awareness card that has been recognised by the civil aviation authority and recognises that you may be carrying devices that people may be unfamiliar with.

You can find out what to do with your equipment at airport security by using the information below:

Click on each item for more information:

Insulin pump companies or your diabetes centres may be able to offer you a spare "holiday pump" to take with you in case of any problems. Make sure you know your pump settings if you need to program the spare one – ask your team for a download of your settings or make a note of them somewhere.

Whether or not you take a spare pump and batteries, it is worth taking back-up pens of both short and long-acting insulin. Always take two to three times as much equipment as you'll need. Better safe than sorry! If you need to go back onto background, long acting insulin use a dose equivalent to your pumps total basal dose. Make a note of this.

Take the contact details of your diabetes team in case you need some advice while you're away. And, also have the number for the insulin pump manufacturer's helpline in case of problems or pump failure.

Different airlines and countries have different rules. You should contact your airline before travelling to discuss medical devices you intend to take on board the aircraft. Carry a letter from your diabetes team or GP, stating why you have the pump and all your equipment – this should help you out if you run into trouble. To be discreet you can request a sunflower lanyard so security recognise your needs should be considered through the security process.

As a general rule: metal detectors are fine for your diabetes equipment but do not go through the X-ray machines or full body scanners! These machines can damage electronic components of CGMs and insulin pumps. Request a hand-wand inspection instead.

You may decide that for your holiday you would rather come off your pump! This may be for logistical reasons (such as wanting to swim and spend time on a sandy beach) or you may just want a break. If you're on a pump then you should have back up pens at home, in case your pump fails, so it'll be relatively easy to switch.

The dose of basal insulin (Lantus, Levemir, Degludec or Toujeo) is the same as the total basal dose which you can read on your pump (not total daily dose – just the basal dose). The insulin in the pump is only short-acting, so make sure the replacement basal dose is given before stopping the pump. Alternatively, take the pump off after a bolus dose with a meal so at least there is about four hours' worth of insulin in your system.

The replacement bolus doses will be the same used in the pump, so your same carbohydrate counting skills are necessary. You can continue to use a bolus advisor in the form of an app such as MyLife, MySugr or Diabetes:M.

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