I’m kind of known as the queen of day trips. That’s something that started when James was really little, and I’m happy to say that even with my four kids, we get lots of opportunities to do really fun things. From Disneyland to the beach to art exhibits, we try to do these types of trips a couple of times a month.
As a family, we take a couple of vacations a year as well. And now that James is into scouting, we’ve been adding weekend campouts to the mix too. I love these opportunities to get away. Not only does it help build family memories, but it really helps me to feel refreshed and brings variety to my normal day-to-day life. The whole family really benefits from these “getaways” of varying lengths.
But packing for these excursions? I admit, that’s not my favorite part! Of course, on top of all the regular packing, I always need to be mindful of what is needed to manage James’ type 1 diabetes, and frankly, that used to be a very intimidating part of getting out the door.
Thankfully, over the years I’ve discovered a little trick, something so simple I might not even call it a “hack,” but it makes packing so much easier: Checklists.
I have one for vacation, one for weekend campouts, and one for day trips. I’m sure this isn’t a groundbreaking idea, but I find it really easy to just print one of these out and start compiling our gear.
The added benefit of a checklist for diabetes supplies is peace of mind. If I’ve already thought through every scenario and have planned accordingly, I can leave my worry behind and know that we’ll be okay! Since we’re doing a lot of camping lately, as an example I thought I’d post the checklist I use to make sure James is ready for a two-night campout. Of course, this is very specific to James. Your list might look really different, but this is a starting point!
Weekend Campout Diabetes Preparedness List
- Charge devices: Meter, smart phone, CGM (continuous glucose monitor), portable battery pack
- Change infusion site and fill pump with plenty of insulin
- Extra battery for insulin pump
- Extra infusion sets (2)
- Tape for infusion sets
- Syringes in case of pump failure
- Antibiotic ointment
- Antiseptic cleanser
- One fully prepped glucometer kit
- Extra lancets
- Extra test strips
- Tons of juice boxes (at least 8 per day)
- Small pieces of candy for mild low blood sugar
- Treatment for severe low blood sugar
- Ketone meter and at least 3 ketone strips
- A list of all basal rates, insulin-to-carb ratios, and sensitivity requirements
- Small notebook to log numbers or help track and figure out unusual blood sugar trends
- Small carb-counting book (in case of no internet access)
This is our short list just for campouts. Does it seem like a lot of stuff to you? It definitely includes plenty of stuff that we don’t use every time. But I find that with diabetes, it really pays off to be prepared.
My final little hack is that I like to go over the list when we get back from our trips and replenish anything we used up that we might need for next time. There are some items that need to be redone or renewed just prior to a trip — like charging devices or including a fully loaded testing kit — but for the other supplies, it’s nice to just have a bag of “extras” and “backups” that can be grabbed quickly.
My list for day trips is less expansive for sure, and my list for our weeklong vacations is much more comprehensive! I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t need a checklist for short excursions in town. Instead I check in with James: “Got your tech?” (meaning his phone, meter, CGM) and “Have you got a juice?” If he has those things, we’re good!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.