A Type 1 Diabetic Survival Guide to All-Inclusive Resorts

beachThis past April, I travelled down south to the Dominican Republic for my sister’s destination wedding! This was my very first all-inclusive trip, and aside from mixed reviews shared by friends (week-long benders, epic family reunions, food poisoning), I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect…

With the warmer climate, varying food options and time change, it was a bit of a crap shoot guesstimating how much insulin to dose up and keep things peachy. And let’s just say things were not so peachy in the blood sugar department until I came home to freezing rain. But luckily that didn’t stop me from taking part in the wedding festivities and hitting the surf!

Here were some fun findings on my all-inclusive resort experience…

EXPECT:

  • Crystal turquoise seas, pale sands and palm trees. With tiki huts and classic Caribbean photo opps, it’s a postcard paradise. I could literally stare at the ocean all day soooo this was quite lovely.
  • All you can eat, all you can drink. A continuum of restaurants, buffets and swim-up bars means you’re never deprived of guilty pleasures. A little diabetic willpower comes in handy here.
  • Fresh antioxidant rainbows. You’ll find endless tropical spreads of watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, passion fruit and papaya. Yummmm.
  • Sun-kissed wedding parties and daily nuptial celebrations. As a knot tying hot spot, our resort hosted around 4 weddings per day. My sister’s was held in a lush garden gazebo which made for an intimate ceremony surrounded by the fam jam and close friends. Loved this.

  • A fully equipped gym, fitness classes and yoga. Plus, prime barefoot beach running conditions! When you’re trying to stay on an even keel with diabetes, exercise is super vital (basically since it increases muscle cell uptake of glucose, leading to lower insulin needs). It’s pretty much my favorite antidote to every stressor.
  • Family-friendly entertainment. From magic shows to beach BBQ’s and Mr./Mrs. Bikini contests, the daily resort itinerary was full o’ surprises.

beach party

  • Complimentary take-home, full-size bottles of booze. The perfect souvenir!
  • An intense detox cleanse. A.k.a. food poisoning. Not saying it’ll happen, but best to be prepared. No matter how hydrated you are (bottled water is replenished around the resort by the millisecond), it doesn’t rule out those mystery gastro bugs you might encounter. My boyfriend and I both got hit with some severe tummy woes, luckily after my sister’s wedding (albeit within a few hours). Phewf.
  • 24 hour on-site emergency medical support. With type 1 diabetes, this is always reassuring. Especially as my blood sugars were a consistent 2.0 reading (normal range is 5.0-7.0 mmol/l) during my all-night food poisoning rager. Which meant that every bottle of mini fridge pop and travel energy bar I devoured was literally tossed back up (pardon the TMI). I was pretty close to calling the emergency hotline but orange Fanta prevailed.
  • In-room mini fridges. Ours was a ‘cooling’ mini bar so just enough to keep my extra insulin nice and chilled. After the challenges of finding cold storage on my previous backpacking travels, this was a mega relief.

DON’T (NECESSARILY) EXPECT:

  • Natural sweeteners or dairy alternatives. Like many resorts abroad, aspartame is still the reigning alternative to sugar. You likely won’t find stevia in these parts, nor almond or organic soy milk. Something I take for granted at home.
  • Unsweetened cocktail mixes. These beach bar drinks are ultra sweet and tasty thanks to heaping ladles of sugar, which don’t jive so well with my system.
  • Cheap sunscreen. I came across a bottle for a whopping $42 US! Needless to say, stocking up on SPF pre-trip will save some serious coin.
  • Whole gluten-free grains or plant-based options. Our resort featured a sushi bar and private teppanyaki dining experience, which was awesome, but the sugary white sushi rice was a bummer to the blood sugars. Also, soya sauce is used in most of the noodle and rice options – so us gluten freebies need to be wary! I mostly stuck to the salad bars at each buffet, which also seemed to include mystery meat in their veggie platters.
  • A crazy culture shock. If you’re looking to spend a week unwinding at the beach, it’s the ideal retreat. If you get itchy feet and find the need to explore your surroundings, it can be a bit tricky to leave the comfy resort confines. Totally depends on what you’re after!

With any resort experience, I feel like it’s all about celebrating whatever the occasion in the company of a fun-loving travel crew. Wouldn’t you agree?

What’s your take on a healthy/happy all-inclusive getaway?

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2 thoughts on “A Type 1 Diabetic Survival Guide to All-Inclusive Resorts

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