Airplanes and Pumping

Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes is easy. Yes, I said it, easy. If you know your rights and you are willing to plant your feet firmly, you can do it too! I want to share with you how I travel and prepare for flying.

  • Pack nicely and pack a lot.

I bought a plastic container from Target about three years ago that has been the keeper of all supplies since its conception. It’s also really easy to pop in a backpack while traveling. It also keeps everything somewhat sterile. Did you know that medical supplies do not count toward your carry on allowance? Check with your airline, but it should be 100% free. (NEVER PUT MEDICAL SUPPLIES IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE).  I throw this box into a backpack and it has never been an issue while flying.
Pack more than you will need; I typically pack about 3-5x more than what is typical. Example: I’m gone for 5 days and estimate I will need to change my site twice. In this case I would bring 6-10 units of each item (infusion sets, reservoirs, and an extra insulin vial…etc). It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry!

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Write your name, address, and phone number INCLUDING country code. Specify that it’s medical supplies.

Here’s what it looks like inside…

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  • If you’re wearing a pump, do not go through detectors at the airport! 

Here’s where it’s important that you know your rights. It is YOUR RIGHT to choose a pat down vs going through the machines. The detectors can interfere with your pump’s frequency and cause problems with how the pump functions. It is also not recommended to take the pump off. The pump is keeping you alive, why take it off?

Only once did I ever encounter a horrible TSA officer who suggested..about a million times..that I just go through the machines. Keep calm and be firm that it is your right, as it is a life-sustaining device that cannot be removed. Also, they will tell you a million times that it is perfectly safe and that other diabetics go through it all the time. Don’t. I have never been refused a pat down. NOTE: they may test your hands for explosives, it’s okay. I have never had issues with my supplies being questioned. With that being said:

  • Make sure your supplies have labels and have your prescription information available. 

If questioned, you need to prove that these are YOURS and that you received them under a prescription designated for YOU. Also, keeping your supplies sterile is important, so I’m sure you haven’t removed something unless it has been used.

In the end, the most important thing is to be calm and believe in yourself. Know your rights. I am a very stubborn person. Perhaps this is why I haven’t had many issues while travelling with Diabetes, specifically with an insulin pump. But being informed and knowing your rights are just as important.

What are your experiences with pumping and airport security?

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