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Real Talk With Dave: Flying Solo, Air Travel + T1D

If you follow me on Instagram, @type1livabetic, you’ll see that I was recently sent to Chicago for work, thanks to Xeris Pharmaceuticals. On this trip we reviewed a brand-new product for the Type 1 Diabetic community, which I will discuss further in a separate blog later on.

This was a very exciting trip for me to be a part of and go on, as many other Type 1 Diabetics who are very well known and have a large presence in the T1D space were also a part of. One thing that stood out for me, however, was the fact that in order to be a part of this event, I had to fly on my own from my home state of California all the way to Chicago, Illinois. Now don’t get me wrong, I love traveling, and thanks to my amazing family, we travel pretty frequently, however, this was the first time I had to learn how to travel on my own and be independent and responsible for all decisions. This was a challenge and experience I was willing to take!

I had known about this trip for a couple of months prior to going, so I had plenty of time to prepare myself for this time I would have to face such a new experience. It was in me to take on such a big responsibility in traveling alone for the first time and I was very willing to accept the fact that I would eventually need to learn how to do something like this on my own, and so I did. I had to work hard on the mental aspect of traveling alone. I needed to find ways to stay calm and relaxed, all while being attentive and present in everything that was going on throughout that event. I also needed to figure out how I was going to manage my Diabetes all on my own, which I do anyways, however, I have the luxury of having my family with me at home all the time in case of an emergency. This time, it was all on me. Throughout this trip, I learned many valuable life lessons on traveling with Type 1 all on my own, so I wanted to share my experience, tips, and tricks as I hope to help someone out who may have doubts about flying solo with T1D. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy, but if you take the right steps, it can be smooth sailing. It’s all in the mind.

1/ Be Overprepared:

In flying (or driving, even), it is better to be overprepared than underprepared. Have ALL your supplies for your Diabetes on hand and within reach. DO NOT check in medical supplies. Always keep what you will need with you in your carry-on and more and don’t feel bad if you have too many supplies. You never know when you will have a medical emergency, so by having all your supplies with you nearby will be one less thing to worry about and will help give you peace of mind.

2/ RELAX!:

One of my greatest issues in thinking of flying solo was how to deal with flight anxiety. Something I often times struggle with is worrying about my Diabetes while in mid-air, don’t know why, but it just happens. Some things that I found very helpful while flying and trying to remain calm were:
” Headspace – meditation app
” Listening to music
” Keeping your blood sugars in range (eating low carb while flying = less insulin = less fluctuations)
” Read a book (keeps your mind busy)
” Watch a movie
” Take a nap
In no time, you will arrive to your destination and be at peace!

3/ Know Your Resources:

Always know how to get access to emergency medical treatment solutions during your flight. By this, I mean, know that if your blood sugar goes low, you can always ask a flight attendant for juice on board. Keep a vile up Insulin and some syringes handy and close by in case your pump were to fail or rip out. Know where you can get immediate access to certain items that would be needed in a Diabetic emergency, and in doing so, you will have less things to worry about while flying.

4/ Medical ID:

When flying, it is so very important to be wearing a visible and distinct medical ID necklace or bracelet as someone could truly save your life if you were to have a severe issue while flying. It not only will help you, but others nearby as they will know right away what medical condition you have.

5/ Essentials + Necessities:

Whenever I fly, I make sure to always buy a bottle of water and a bottle of juice from the airport before boarding so that I can control my lows or highs in the most appropriate manner possible. Having these two things with me gives me peace of mind in knowing I have access to them with me and don’t have to wait for the flight attendants to come by with the snack carts. If you do happen to run out, you can always ask a flight attendant, but having your own will make the process just a bit faster.

6/ Enjoy the Flight:

Last but not least, is of course, enjoying the flight. Don’t stress anything. As long as you are fully prepared for any and every situation, you will be just fine. You are in control of yourself, you get to call ALL the shots, and you are so much stronger and braver than you think!

I hope these tips and tricks can help someone out in a time of need. Traveling should (and can) be a fun and enjoyable experience. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

DISCLAIMER: as mentioned, I did fly alone, however, some of my friends were on board with me, just not directly next to me. I did fly solo in the sense that this was my first time flying without my family, so though I did have some people I knew on board, this was still a whole new experience for me. Now I know I can truly fly solo next time the opportunity arises.
Just thought I’d put that out there.

Live well,

Dave

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