The Highs & Lows of Road Tripping with Diabetes

photo 4

Mount Fairview Summit, Lake Louise

Summer just isn’t quite complete without an epic road trip. Spectacular scenery, rolling arm waves out the window, classic car sing-along tunes, and peeling sticky thighs off the seat at every pit stop. What more could you really ask for?

Last week I headed eastward from Whistler to the soaring Rockies in Alberta, and boy was I in for a treat! I’d highly recommend taking the lovely 12 hour cross-province trek over a plane ride if you get the chance.

Despite my fondness for this mode of travel, road trips can be a bumpy ride with type 1 diabetes in the driver’s seat.

Here are a few of my fave tips for a cruisy trip…some of which I definitely could have used more!

  • Bring back-up fuel. A cooler truly makes life easier when it comes to storing extra insulin along with healthy fresh road snacks and quick carbs for low blood sugar. No disrespect to the beloved Timbit, but there’s a steady stream of Tim Hortons’ lining most major highways in Canada and they haven’t exactly embraced the unsweetened, gluten-free whole foods approach. I do applaud them for offering a ‘celiac-friendly’ option, but their gluten-free coconut macaroon still has 25 grams of sugar per serving. Just sayin’. Bringing along some raw, unsalted trail mix and nut butter squeeze packs with veggies and seed crackers is always a good call.
  • Try to keep up a routine. Going from an all-day drive to waking up at dawn’s crack for a morning hike is a scramble on our systems. Staying active around the same time each day can be nearly impossible when we’re on the road. This is where eating smaller frequent portions and doing some sort of physical movement (even jumping jacks at the gas station!) will be a major blood sugar tamer. Insulin doses, activities and meals are all bound to vary, so any consistency on the road is a bonus.
Fairview Hike

Fairview Lookout

  • Pack a personal pharmacy. Thanks to the old suppressed immunity, I got hit with a sinus bug as the temperature took a drastic drop, and none of my trusty natural cold remedies were in reach (mainly my hippy Saje immune eucalyptus and peppermint roller, it’s a lifesaver). Small resort towns put a hefty premium on over-the-counter cold meds, so it never hurts to come prepared. Clear nasal passageways are kind of a must for getting the full, fresh mountain air effect.
  • Expect the unexpected. Diabetes and spontaneity don’t always mesh, yet we can still nurture our adventurous spirit by keeping an open mind and covering bases – like stocking extra juice or glucose tabs in the hiking pack, or adjusting insulin doses based on the foreseeable future. Much the same as a random torrential downpour or a flat tire, we can’t always control what might trigger a blood sugar yo-yo effect. For me, there was nothing like going low after a bike ride and guzzling down a glass of OJ at the dinner table of an upscale winery. Classy I know.
photo 2

The classiest part of our road trip…dinner at Quails’ Gate Winery in Kelowna, BC. Nom nom nom.

  • Check in with yourself. I probably tested my blood sugar every hour when my sinuses were too cloudy to put one foot in front of the other. Extreme measures aside, doing a quick self-assessment every so often can work wonders for our overall well-being. Whether it’s keeping a close eye on blood sugar levels, stopping every hour for a stretch break, or simply hydrating, we can take small steps to re-calibrate our energy on the road.
  • Go play outside! Exploring the great outdoors is one of the many peaks of road trips. We know how exercise is mega beneficial, and what better way to make our cells hungry for glucose than getting our fitness on in nature? Loads more fun AND scenic than pounding a treadmill.
Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Happy late summer travels 🙂

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One thought on “The Highs & Lows of Road Tripping with Diabetes

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