JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charityStoriesiPhone and camera? Insulin’s the real valuable! Bridgette’s type 1 diabetes travel tips

iPhone and camera? Insulin’s the real valuable! Bridgette’s type 1 diabetes travel tips


By Bridgette Dobinson

So the first year of my adventure is over. Success! I’ve been backpacking around South East Asia. Something I never thought I would achieve after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. What’s next? I’m now packing my bag for a rail tour of China, and then spending a year working in New Zealand. Woop!

Anything is possible if we don’t neglect our diabetes and take care.  When traveling with type 1 diabetes all that is needed is a bit of preparation.

So here are some things I have learnt from backpacking:

  • Cardboard boxes DON’T survive a year in a backpack! You’ll find you will forever be finding an odd needle in the hood of a jacket or inside your socks. Instead I would recommend emptying your equipment into secure toiletry style bags, and then flat pack the boxes alongside them with a prescription receipt to prove they are what they are. This also saves a lot of space!
  • Make sure to put some spare insulin and test strips in your hand luggage – otherwise you may find yourself short when you find your medical kit has frozen in the hold!
  • When people tell you to look after your valuables, they are often referring to cameras and phones. But with type 1 diabetes, your most valuable equipment is the stuff that keeps you alive. If you are travelling with a friend or a boyfriend make sure you have spares of your diabetes kit in each backpack just in case one goes missing
  • I personally find that Frio insulin bags are the easiest solution for keeping your insulin cool. An added bonus is that using these can often spark odd conversations arriving at a hostel with those (still many) unbeknown to the life of a diabetic.
  • I buy food in the airport when I go on long haul flights. This allows me the freedom to eat when it suits me. And I am way clearer on the sugar and carbs in these than within those mysterious pre packed airline meals!

In my time with type 1 diabetes I have visited and taught English in Thailand and traveled around Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Indonesia. I’ve taken part in marine research in Malaysia. I’ve volunteered on a small island for five months with no transport. I’ve had fun in the Philippines. I’ve visited orang-utans in Borneo. I’ve trekked Mount Kinabalu. I’ve travelled to Singapore and I’ve spent time in Dubai.

So the moral here is that anything you want to do can be done with just a little extra thought and care. On that note, I need to go pack my bag and count my needles before I fly to Hong Kong tomorrow!


Bridgitte Dobinson in Asia

Planning a holiday? Get more information and tips on travelling with type 1 diabetes.

Thermometer showing hot temperature

Get your free type 1 diabetes holiday checklist

Make packing stress-free: sign up to receive our type 1 travel checklist in PDF and digital formats.

Get our type 1 holiday checklist

  • Keep in touch

  • We'd love to keep you updated about our work to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes, and how we support people with type 1. We'd also like to let you know how you can help by donating, volunteering or campaigning.

    We may stay in touch by post or phone if we have those details from you, but it keeps our costs down if we can use email, meaning that we can invest more money in ground breaking type 1 research.

    Please let us know if you're happy for us to contact you by email:

  • To change how we contact you, or to stop all contact from us, please phone 020 7713 2030 and ask for Supporter Care, or email info@jdrf.org.uk

  • Privacy policy

    Your privacy is important to us. Please read our privacy policy.

    Our supporter promise

    We promise that we will treat you and your personal information with the utmost care and respect. Please read our supporter promise.