Planning To Travel With Diabetes? Here’s What You Need To Know

Planning for vacations seems like an idyllic endeavour until you start packing. That’s when reality knocks on your head: you’ve filled the carry-on with backup toiletries, a pair of shoes, and a few wardrobe essentials – but what about keeping supplies for your metabolic disease?

Individuals with diabetes will always have more preparations to consider. On vacation, you may be in a new time zone, encounter new cuisines, or not have access to your regular medications. This can make it more challenging to manage blood sugar levels and disrupt your daily routine. But if you’re equipped with the right information and supplies, traveling with diabetes can be smooth and healthy process.

Here are some considerations that will set you off on a stress-free vacation:

Prepare ahead with appropriate food

One challenge of managing diabetes when traveling is that you may not have access to the usual diabetic-recommended foods. Whether you’re traveling by train, car, or bus, the available foods (crackers, packaged juices, etc.) aren’t the best choices for managing blood sugar. They are high in calories and low in nutrition. And after you’ve reach a foreign destination, the local fare may can be a problem too.

To counter these issues, you should take along some healthy snacks to avoid low-nutrition choices at convenience stores and at airports. This could save you money as well. Some healthy snack examples include natural peanut butter, protein bar, fresh fruits, whole-grain crackers, and diabetes meal replacement shakes. If you’re taking the plane, bring a note from your doctor to avoid any issues with the airport security while carrying these food items.

Pack enough supplies

Even if you’re taking spare prescriptions, it’s not a good idea to go without your supplies and medications on the road. For example, you will need to check your blood sugar level before, during, and after travel to avoid high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and the health problems these variations can cause.

So make sure you plan ahead when you are traveling with your insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor for managing diabetes as effectively as possible throughout the journey. Dexcom highlights the importance of portability in a continuous glucose monitor. They and many other companies are making portable models that are ideal for travelers to carry – they take up a mere amount of space and can even be kept inside a pocket.

Additionally, models with long-lasting sensors would offer added value to travelers with long-distance schedules (some companies make sensors that are approved for up to 7 days of use).

Carry identification and discuss your disease

Diabetic patients don’t like to share their condition with everyone. It seems embarrassing, makes you the center of unwanted attention and sometimes just seems tacky. However, it could be a lifesaver in case you’re surrounded by unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar destination. If no one near you knows about your condition and you have an emergency, you might not be able to communicate during that time.

It also means that you should carry details of your disease, medication and identification with you during travel. That could include a keychain fob, an identity bracelet or even a wallet card. You never know they could end up saving you in an emergency.

Traveling in ease with diabetes is no difficult feat. You just have to be smart about it.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

how to balance having a family and career

The more thought I give to having kids, the more I realise we are screwed.

Stay home and miss out on income and retirement contributions (only for a few years sure, but that adds up to a lot).

Keep working and struggle to juggle everything (I find it hard enough to run our lives as DINKs, let me tell you).

If T could increase his income, maybe I could stay home and freelance – I’d earn less, but something is better than nothing .

If I remain the bigger earner, well, I don’t know what he could do on a self-employed basis if he stayed home. If there was an easy answer, his stints of unemployment in our time together wouldn’t have been so bad. Also, I shudder to think what kind of scene I would come home to at nights. Great dinners, no doubt, but probably a filthy house (and grubby, if happy, kids by default).

And what if, as Her Every Cent Counts made me consider, a difficult pregnancy/birth physically affects my ability to work?

I feel totally torn between two trains of thinking: One: I work in an office – the world wouldn’t miss a beat without me – how can that ever compare with raising mini human beings? Two: I really like what I do – even if I’m not saving the world – do I have to feel guilty about that?

Also, I need adult interaction. My tolerance for children is even more limited than for people in general, and needs to be balanced out.

On a slightly different note … My parents were around wayyy too much when I was a kid. They both worked full time when we lived in Kuala Lumpur, but after moving to NZ, they both mostly worked part time or at home. It annoyed the hell out of me back then.  On the other hand, we all know people whose parents were never around. That usually doesn’t end so well either.

Mine were too strict; other parents weren’t strict enough. I am determined to find a balance, but I am well aware I am destined to fail.

Link love (Powered by cannoli and yum cha)

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This week has been defined by two things.

Amazing food: Arancini and cannoli at Matakana markets. Dessert at Fed Deli (pity their poutine hasn’t improved – it could use a hell of a lot more gravy and soggier chips, but it’s still the best we have in Auckland). Yum cha with work peeps, which I literally haven’t had since we got back to NZ. Egg custard tarts, we belong together…

Amazing TV: We finally finished Angel. I was so upset about the ending to start with but in retrospect think it was pitch perfect. Here’s the best analysis of the final I’ve come across. Meanwhile, Game of Thrones wraps next week, and we’ll be finishing Orange is the New Black this weekend. We watched one movie – Mr Nobody – which was a total letdown. Fascinating concept but confusing in execution and needed a heck of a lot more editing.

How was your week?

This week’s links

Utterly stunning sentiment from Prose and Constellations: “We are here to live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

9 healthy breakfast ideas from my fave food blog, Stonesoup

Renting/flathunting in the Auckland ‘burbs sucks, but sounds like renting in the CBD is just as stupidly painful (thanks for enlightening me, Sense)

Residential parking permits are common in other big cities and were a bit of a pain for us in Toronto, but people here aren’t super keen on the idea…

Nicole and Maggie ask: Does what you do define who you are?

One of Seth Godin’s shortest and best posts ever: “Really tempting to spend time trying to get paid for what you love. It’s probably easier and certainly more direct to talk to yourself about loving what you do.” (I feel bad for having copied the entire post…)

Shonda Rhimes dreamed of being Toni Morrison growing up, and years later, when they had dinner together, all Morrison wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. I love that. Also, she delivers a great reality check on balance and success: “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life.”

HelpStay: Launching a thousand journeys

helpstay nzmuse The concept of volunteering overseas changed my life. Literally. Had I not discovered the likes of WWOOF and HelpX, odds are we would never have taken our RTW trip. Volunteering (which we did in Italy and Germany) enabled us to extend our travels and gave us some of the richest memories and experiences of that entire journey.

So when Shay Gleeson, founder of HelpStay, got in touch with me, I was intrigued. His twist on the concept is introducing a fundamental layer of quality assurance – vetting, if you like. He’s an Irish bloke who (like us) recently took a six-month sabbatical and spent time travelling in Thailand, Vietnam and Australia, including some WWOOFing in the latter. Not surprisingly, he met plenty of other backpackers supplementing their travels by swapping their skills for lodging and food – there’s plenty of that here in New Zealand too.

The plan is to start small and expand from there. HelpStay has launched with a number of Irish hosts (most of whom he says are also members of other major volunteering sites) and Canada will be next off the ranks.

helpstay logo We had a chat about the birth of HelpStay, what he hopes to achieve, and where he’s off to next…

How he got the idea for HelpStay

I worked on organic farms for 3 weeks in Australia when I was on my travels. The idea started fermenting in my head. I was thinking ‘this is great’ …

Unfortunately I don’t have an inheritance or a nest egg or a trust fund … so you know the trip is going to come to an end sometime and you gotta go back to your home country, work for a few months, get some cash together then you can go off again.

I was thinking there must be an easier way to do this, to travel perpetually. That’s where the whole idea came from … that you can sustain your travel longer and go further.

A good UK friend of mine who is a surfing fanatic spent the whole summer in Australia helping in a surf lodge and surfing in his spare time. He did it all on a very tight budget.

To me travel is all about sharing, learning and growing and I think HelpStay facilitates the traveller to share their skills, learn new ones and grow as an individual. In addition, the traveller is living among locals, creating meaningful social connections and travelling with a purpose.

I guess we are the next evolution of Couchsurfing – you can crash on the couch but you will need to pull your weight about the place.

What sets HelpStay apart

There are other places doing it but where I’m different is that I wanted to actually look at building some trust and security into the system. At the moment, the other places, they don’t actually do any of that, they don’t actually go to the hosts and verify them, interview them and so forth.

If you’re a traveller and want to go to a host you’re taking a bit of a gamble. You don’t really know much about them. It’s a big ask to ask someone to go halfway across the world and stay with somebody they don’t know.

Hosts are only accepted on the platform once I have visited and interviewed them. I am also in the process of photographing all the hosts’ properties. This way the helper will know what to expect. It’s a big ask for someone to travel half way across the world, they need to know what to expect. I want to ensure that each host property and stay is as expected. Trust and security play a massive part and it’s something that is at the forefront of this venture. After all, trust is the currency of the new economy.

The end game

With HelpStay, I want to start 1000+ journeys. I want to entice people to start travelling and exploring the world. I want to empower the current generations to leave the safety of the couch and start a new journey. In the future, I would love to have hosts in a diverse range of countries and regions. How cool would it be to spend a month living and learning fabric weaving in Ireland or on a ranch learning horsemanship skills in Mongolia?

The end game of the whole project is to have hosts in as many countries as possible, in really interesting countries … like Mongolia, Iran or Iraq. If it works the way it’s supposed to work you will be able to travel around the world free, you can go from one host to another and that way travel perpetually (Ed: And a handy excuse to travel there to vet them!).

Once I have Ireland up and running, I am going to start travelling again. I have booked my flights to leave for Australia in early December.

helpstay nzmuse

My thoughts, in closing:

Shay mentions that volunteering can easily turn into exploitation if there’s a lack of communication and expectations aren’t laid out (hence the required approval process here, even though it takes a lot of work on his part). As he says, it really is the little things that can ruin an experience. We got a bit of a feel for our host via Skype beforehand, but were totally thrown by their eating habits (quantity/timing) when we got there. That’s a really hard thing to nail down – what do you call a reasonable amount of food, and does it line up with my perception?! – but I know if we ever volunteer again I’ll be asking about their dining routine early on.


RTW and back: An interview with Arienne from See You Soon

arienne see you soon rtw nzmuse

Teaching English overseas is a pretty common rite of passage for NZers, particularly as Asia develops further – but it’s a bit rarer among North Americans. Canadians Arienne Parzei and her partner are two who took this path … and the opportunity to tack on some extended travel at the end of it all. Good call!

You’ll find her blog over at (with a niche in adventure activities, cultural experiences, and budget travel).  Arienne is a travel writer, videographer, and photographer from Toronto, whose insatiable curiosity for learning about different cultures first hand has led her to some amazing destinations and experiences, including living in South Korea for two years and backpacking for eight months through China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand (huzzah! That’s her at Mt Cook above). We definitely share a predominantly go-with-the-flow travel philosophy, love for Malaysian food, and wonderment at the inherent goodness of human nature.

What made you decide to embark on your extended trip?

For a number of years I had thought about doing an extended trip, ideally backpacking for about six months. Up until this point I had only done two-week trips here and there and a one-month trip down to Peru. I wanted to do something longer where I could really sink my feet into a country and region. When we decided to move to South Korea, we knew it would be the perfect time to tack on a trip after our contracts finished and explore more of Asia and the surrounding areas.

Had you planned it all before South Korea or did you decide while you were over there?

The only thing we planned before South Korea was that we would be traveling for 6 months after our contracts finished. We ended up having a really great time in Korea, so we stayed a second year. While in Korea, we had the idea that we would be backpacking through Southeast Asia and hopefully would have enough money to make it down to Australia and New Zealand. We bought our one-way plane tickets from Seoul to Beijing about 5 months before our contracts finished in Korea and really only planned out our first months of travel through China.

How long did it take to plan/prepare?

It took us about 6 months to prepare for the trip, researching visas and destinations, ensuring we had all the gear we’d need for the trip, etc. But in terms of planning the actual trip, we took a 2-weeks-at-a-time approach in that we really only planned out the next two-weeks. We had a general idea of the route we wanted to take, but usually found accommodations on arrival and went with what we felt like doing at the time.

How did you fund the trip?

The trip was entirely funded from our savings while teaching in South Korea. Moving abroad gave us the opportunity to experience a new culture while being able to save for the ‘big trip’.

What do you wish you knew before leaving? Any advice for would-be RTW travellers?

Hmm, I really can’t think of anything I wish I had known before going. That’s all part of the travel experience. I will say though, that we didn’t expect to be in Southeast Asia for as long as we did. We thought we would be traveling for 6 months. But our budget was holding up and we ended up being on the road for 8 months (5 of which were in Southeast Asia). In terms of advice, I’d say don’t tie yourself down to any set plans. Go with the flow, follow your gut, and don’t race your way through destinations.

What is something surprising you learned on the road?

I learned that there are a lot of amazing people in this world. Kind-hearted people who are willing to open their doors to you, invite you to join in a meal, even when you’re complete strangers. I think many of us approach situations from a skeptical eye, thinking “what does this person really want from me?” And while there are some of those people, more often than not, the people you’ll meet mean the best. I learned to be open to allow those situations to happen.

What was your favourite place (or since I know this is impossible to choose, what’s one place you would return to in a heartbeat?)

Yes it’s hard to choose! We visited 10 countries on our trip and there are 3 that I would return to in a heartbeat; Laos, Malaysia, and New Zealand. Laos for the laid-backness, Malaysia for the food, and New Zealand for the scenery.

What’s still on your travel wish list? Any confirmed trips coming up?

There’s still a lot on the wish list! We’d both like to explore more of our own country, Canada, and we’re talking about a big road trip through the United States. I’d also really like to start exploring more of Eastern Europe.

What’s it been like settling back in Canada so far?

It took some time to readjust to living in Canada again. We were gone for almost 3 years, so we did experience some reverse culture shock. Tristan went back to school and got his teaching degree and he’s now teaching in the public schools in Toronto and I ended up getting a job working at Ryerson University teaching video and radio production. It seems our time in Korean classrooms made an impression on us!

Do you plan to stay put – is this your ‘forever’ city?

That’s a hard question. For most people, deciding to move abroad can be one of the hardest things to do. But once you’ve done it you realize how capable and straightforward it can be. You also learn that you don’t really need too much stuff. Toronto is where our families and friends are but we’re not going to rule out the possibility of moving abroad again one day.

Also see: RTW and back: An interview with Maddie and Paul of Two for the Road)

Link love (Powered by acoustic playlists and pink things)

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Round about this time last year we were making our way north through Vietnam via Hoi An and Hue. This year, we’re working! Yes, T is once again employed. And that is all I’m going to say about that or I’m going to jinx it.

But on that note, I thought I’d touch on something I haven’t thought about for a long time – minimum and entry level wages. Until T was on the job hunt this year I didn’t realise the minimum wage is now $14.25 (a whopping three bucks higher than it was when I started looking for full time work), and I see Seattle just voted to raise its minimum wage to $15. It’s crazy that an American city is on track to overtake us on that front.

Once upon a time $18 an hour sounded like a fortune. It’s what my mum earned 10-15 years ago; I remember I was a kid when she got her first industry job here after we moved to Auckland, and that sum seemed so enormous. It’s what I made at my first grown up job four years ago, and I thought I was doing so well, making so much more than minimum wage. Now it doesn’t sound like a lot at all. That’s not even $40k – it’s barely enough to get by in this country, let alone this city. How things change. When I was in publishing I actually used to worry that the minimum wage would catch up with me.

This week’s links

The unexpected side effects of spending time living abroad

Here’s the truth: everyone trades time for money. “Stop trading time for money” is an inspiring goal, but it’s kind of like “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”, in that it isn’t actually possible. 

For the fashion challenged like me, here’s a neat post about colour theory to help you look more put together

Right on. I can make fun of my race but you can’t (although spouses are exempt, right? That’s how we play it…)

Oh how I relate to this piece on loathing telephone conversations

Y’all may recall how I feel about salads. Here is how to make one without dumb leaves

More madness from our rental market in Auckland

Some real talk about pregnancy and having a first kid


Finally, enjoyed the stories in this thread about the best bosses. I’m so glad I’ve had nothing but amazing bosses in my professional jobs – managers who don’t micromanage, recognise potential and encourage you and champion you, who are sensitive to your workload rather than piling things on unthinkingly

Adventures in the kitchen: Mexican madness

mexican food Even before we left to travel, I knew we were missing out on good Mexican food here. Mexican Cafe and Mexicali Fresh? Blah. Mexican Specialities also underwhelmed us. Ahsi Itzcali closed down awhile ago. There are plenty of trendy new-ish Mexican restaurants in town, many of which I’ve tried and been impressed by, but they’re all at the gourmet end of the market. I just want a simple big plate of rice, refried beans, salad and a burrito. That ain’t gonna happen here, though. (Those closest we’ve gotten to scratching that itch, if you’re interested, is with the burritos at new chain Mad Mex.)

Seriously, if anyone is keen to move to Auckland and start a humble Mexican neighbourhood joint (nothing fancy; a beans’n’rice type place, as a worldly acquaintance of mine puts it) you would have no competition. Would the margins work? I dunno; the hospitality business is a lean, tough one. But T and I would be your most loyal customers and I’d take it upon myself to spread the gospel and convert newbies.

Anyway, in the meantime I’ve been forced to try to learn to make good Mexican at home. I’ve found pinto beans at East West Organics, around the corner from my house (they also sell other interesting things I’ve read about online but never seen in shops here, like steel cut oats). Alas, they are permanently out of stock of dried pinto beans, though at least they always have canned ones.

But try as I may to make my own refried beans I can’t seem to get the flavour right (we’ve been experimenting with the likes of garlic, lemon, chili, cumin). The best version we had included copious amounts of salt and three grated cloves of garlic. How do I season them properly? What spices do you use?

(I could just buy premade refried beans but simply refuse to pay $4.50/$5 for a can of refried beans when plain pinto beans are at least $1 cheaper.)


Winter is coming…. Dreaming of a tropical birthday getaway

I’ve been lucky to have spent my last three birthdays abroad. Rarotonga, 2011. Sydney, 2012. Prague, 2013.

Alas, that streak eventually had to end. Seeing as I managed to skip winter entirely last year, I’m finding it abysmally cold  right now (by Auckland standards, obviously) and it’s not helped by the fact our little house has the chililest tiled floors ever known to man.

So here I am, dreaming of tropical island escapes.

Maldives water bungalow
By: Sarah_Ackerman

A water bungalow in the Maldives, maybe?

Vanuatu Eruption
By: U.S. Geological Survey

Getting close to the action at Mt Yasur, Vanuatu

By: Philippe AMIOT

Or some French flavour in New Caledonia.

And of course, Niue is still on my bucket list. I’ll never forget the look the travel agent gave me when I first enquired about Pacific Island holidays back in 2011. “Niue is very … natural,” he said, appearing to dampen what might have been a smirk. Fine by me.

It’s just over one month till my birthday. I have no idea what I’ll be doing, so universe, I’m open to options!

Finding your work style: A little self-awareness goes a long way

disc - your work and communication style

One neat thing about my current workplace is that there’s a focus on career development, learning, that kind of thing. On day four I attended a workshop on personal development and training opportunities, and in the second week my team had a group workshop based around figuring out our different communication styles and ways to collaborate better.

I’m an ISFJ. While that’s been interesting and vaguely helpful in relation to my personal life, it really hasn’t shed much light for me professionally. But now I have another lens to look through for that.

For this workshop, we used the DiSC model, which is a workplace-focused assessment. The four pillars are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. Turns out my preferred communication style/work style is of course, a near perfect blend of two.

I’m an SC, which roots me in the steady, and perhaps more importantly, sociable quadrant.

That’s not because I’m a typical outgoing people person (far from it, I’m decidedly not gregarious at all) but because I’m sensitive to other people’s needs, feelings and vibes. I’m diplomatic, often struggle to say no and hate conflict. Quite literally, it gives me the sweats and a stomachache. And while I don’t like to admit it, I do want to be liked. I get little pangs when I observe people at work who effortlessly chat to anyone and everyone, who have friends all through the office, who stop by other people’s desks to chat throughout the day; a little bit of me wishes I could be a warm, universally loved person too.

But like the Force, the C side is strong in me. I’m basically on the cusp of the two quadrants. Work is work. I do mostly enjoy the basic level of required social contact; at times I even appreciate the small talk. But overall when I’m at work I want to get on with the job, and I’m greatly frustrated by incompetence and inefficiency. My working style is just as much about achieving end results as it is about attempting to ensure harmony.

I am happiest behind the scenes. I’ve always thought that my personality is better suited to something totally hidden away in the back room – apparently there are a lot of Cs in finance, strategy, etc. I have some pretty deep seated perfectionist tendencies. However, working in online, I embrace the ‘done is better than perfect’ philosophy and kick ass at getting stuff out the (figurative) door, fast.

Ideally, though? I need time to think about and absorb things – to have reports and presentations and notes emailed to me to study before a meeting – and that’s one of the biggest things I took away from the day. That some of us don’t like being forced to make snap decisions in a meeting, and want to weigh all our options based on as much evidence as we can get.  A quiet comment was made about how another individual with a similar profile to mine tends to go a bit ‘blank’ when initially presented with issues, and whoa did that ring true for me. T feeds this back to me all the time and I’ve become a lot more aware of how cold and expressionless I can come across as.

That said, when it comes to our relationship I’m definitely the default D. When it comes to running the household and our personal affairs my type A comes out. Two equally chilled out people, in my mind, is recipe for domestic disaster, so I compensate.

Are your personal and work personas the same?

Link love (Powered by chores and big books)

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It’s funny how rapidly one’s reading habits can swing from one extreme to another. A couple of years ago I suddenly lost all desire to read YA and cheesy chick lit, and delved deep into literary fiction.

And then I finally got around to reading John Green. And I couldn’t get enough of him. Now I’m back on the YA trail with a vengeance (and since I may soon be getting into mentoring a high school kid, it’s probably good timing). Alas, I think Gus has been miscast in The Fault in Our Stars; he looks nothing like what I expected, and now I’m not so sure I want to see the film.

This week brought some record low temperatures to Auckland; it almost makes me nostalgic for the punishing heat and dust of Cambodia - if it weren’t for the fact that country broke my heart and I could frankly never bear to return.

 Onto the links…

A prime example of the madness that is our housing market (I’m only hard on you because I know you can do better, Auckland!)

I must confess I never knew much about Maya Angelou and I have no time for poetry, but this is a beautiful piece of writing

Trust me, this post about coping in dying industries is not what you expect. (Think … mugging, instead.) Just click the damn link!

An unusually contemplative post over at Get Rich Slowly ponders the different ways that we dream

It’s doubtful I will ever get to this level of investing savvy, but here’s a cautionary read on the risks of investing in different currencies than your own (obviously relevant to us here in NZ)

A poignant take on the drudgery that makes up adult life and living the hell out of it

Lastly, the deadliness of misogyny is hot right now. Here are three of my favourite takes on the topic:

Shamed to death for saying yes to sex, murdered for saying no

If you have sex, you won’t be respected, but if you don’t have sex, you still won’t be respected. It’s an impossible paradox. This week, that paradox became deadly. This week women have died for saying yes to sex. And women have died for saying no.

Your princess is in another castle

Men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end.

Our sexual assault problem is … not easily solved by a hashtag

We want men to be sensitive, but when they are, we make fun of them for being soft and “crying like a girl.” When a man chases us down the street and we’re attracted to him, it’s sweet. When a man chases us down the street and we’re not attracted to him, it’s harassment….

Mothers and fathers put much less of a box around girls. They are encouraged to use their imagination — if they want Legos, their parents are not worried about what it means; they simply give her Legos. God forbid, a little boy wants to play with a Barbie — most parents are not evolved enough to see that just because their boy wants to play with a Barbie does not mean he’s anything except curious and imaginative, as children are wont to be. However, this suppression of natural urges is struck down very early on, from how they should play to how they should act to how they should talk to how they are supposed to present themselves to the world.

(I have a few mixed feelings on this one but overall found it thought provoking.)