In February, Cazzy of Dream Big, Travel Far shared her experiences of travelling with type 1. Today, we have another guest, Luke from @t1traveller on Instagram. Like me, Luke was diagnosed in adulthood, after a significant amount of travel. His diagnosis has not stopped his travels!
Can you give us a little background about where you are from and how you got interested in travelling?
I'm from the UK England and currently in my 4th of what will be 18 months travel across Asia and Australasia with my girlfriend. So far on this trip we've been to India, Kuala Lumpar, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Heading to: Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
When were you diagnosed with type 1? Was this before or after you started travelling?
Unfortunately I didn't travel much until my mid 20's. Around the time I turned 27 I started travelling every other month - mainly city breaks to different European cities.
I then ventured to Vietnam for a 2 week holiday and experienced Asia for the first time which was a real eye opener for me; The new foods & smells, the crazy motorbike traffic, the pace of life and above all the people who whilst poor were incredibly hospitable.
The 40 degree Celcius (104 degree Fahrenheit) heat and crazy humidity did take some adjustment.
After this I really had the bug to travel further again.
Once I had enough holiday allowance and money I made my way to Sri Lanka and travelled the country solo by motorbike for 18 days which was hard work at times, but amazing! I say hard because I got so badly sunburnt I had to wear a jumper for a week and I got soaking wet several days and had to ride through heavy rains for hours.
Riding through tea plantations, mountain villages and along the coast the views were absolutely stunning. I didn't see any other tourists for days, at times I was in the middle of nowhere.
I vividly remember stopping at a village shop for a drink. When I finished my drink and walked back to my bike I found 5 young men standing around it. They just stared at me completely speechless - I don't think they'd seen a Westerner before. That sort of thing happened often on that trip.
5 months later (September 2015) I became quite unwell. After checking a few symptons online I was pretty certain I was diabetic so I went to my GP. My fasting Blood glucose was 16.8mmol and my GP diagnosed me with Type 2, which seemed odd as I'd just turned 30, had a healthy BMI, an active job and zero family history.
I started taking metformin and going back to the doctors every other week with a cold/infection/virus, eye ache and everything else associated with sky high BS. I waited 2 months and lost 10kg/22 pounds (and my patience) before deciding to go private to see an Endocrinologist. Within 5 minutes of my appointment he was arranging insulin therapy for me and I haven't looked back. I think its safe to say I must have had some pancreatic function left otherwise I think I'd have gone into DKA within those 2 months.
Having got off to a bad start with my GP I was fortunate enough to meet a superb team of Dr's and Nurses at Barnet Hospital, North London who got me on track. Regular appointments with my Endo, Nurse and dietician and then a FEFI course which taught me how to carb count properly and how not to bolus for Pizza (which I still have problems with).
Once I mastered the art & science of Insulin therapy I booked to go back to Vietnam with my new found appetite.
How did your blood sugar cooperate on your first type 1 travels?
I found the heat and humidity really increased my insulin sensitivity. I'd eat a large meal with lots of carbs, test 1 hour after eating and be around 12, then 2 hours later be at 3.5 and sweating like crazy - but hard to tell I'm having a hypo because of the warm weather. Also Vietnamese food can be high GI so you do feel hungry before your next meal meaning I was ignoring hunger pains initially.
Fortunately in south east Asia, pressed sugar cane drinks are sold everywhere and are a perfect hypo remedy.
However, I always now carry glucose tablets or sweets with me everywhere I go. Though during my current travels I haven't experienced the same increased insulin sensitivity from the heat as before. Perhaps my honeymoon period has now finished.
What preparations do you make for your diabetes before a trip?
Before I travel I make sure I order double the supplies I'll need - I won't be able to take them all with me (especially on this trip) but its good practice to take extra and leave some at home for when you return. I've got enough to last until I get to Australia where i hope to be able to see a Doctor and get more.
Frio bags are a lifesaver for storing insulin, currently got 6 with me.
Have you met any other type 1s on your travels? Do you tend to tell people you meet that you are diabetic?
I haven't met any other Type 1s on my travels. I don't tend to advertise my diabetes either. I don't hide it, ill inject novorapid at the table or in the street if we're eating out. If I was travelling solo I guess I'd be eating with/around new people all the time so I'm sure questions would be asked. I got caught injecting Lantus in my Glute by a Tuk Tuk driver outside a train station in India (we had a 14 hour train to catch) who asked if it was drugs. When I explained he started telling me his fasting BG - as did any man who spotted me injecting in India. Type 2 is endemic there and testing is cheap and readily available. Trying to explain that Type 1 and Type 2 are different - impossible as everyone's a doctor...
Thanks for sharing your travels, Luke!
Do you or someone you know travel with type 1 diabetes? I am looking to expand this in to a monthly feature so please contact me if you'd be interested in sharing your story!
Vancouver has been on my travel radar since it was selected as the host of the 2010 Olympics. While travelling last year, I met a few Vancouverites, who told me their city was just as amazing as it sounded. I had Southwest vouchers about to expire, so it was the perfect excuse to finally go to Vancouver!
I flew into Seattle and stayed at the Green Tortoise hostel. There couldn't be a better location, as the Pike Place Market is right across the street and features goods from all across the world!
The dock area by the ferris wheel and aquarium was beautiful and a great preview for Vancouver's natural beauty.
I started and ended my trip at the Wayward vegan cafe, which had a communal counter. Both times, I managed to make friends and spend a few hours there. On the last night of the trip, what was meant to be a quick dinner before returning the rental car turned into a long conversation at dinner, going to second place for vegan cheesecake with my new friends, a quick grocery shop at Whole Foods, and even meeting their cats, before I realized, "Oh, yeah, I have to go return my rental car!" I ended up back at the hostel at midnight and had to leave at 4 AM for my flight. Everyone in my room was asleep both when I arrived and left so I'm sure the next day they were all wondering whether there was some strange girl who slept for only three hours!
The coffee capital of the country and the birthplace of Starbucks, I walked past the original location (but not in, as there was a massive queue) and visited one of their reserve tasting rooms. This is no ordinary Starbucks, I tell you! They had affogatos, which is ice cream with two shots of espresso. I don't know that there is a better combination than coffee and ice cream!
I liked Seattle, but I LOVED Vancouver. The three hour drive between the two cities was beautiful and as soon as I crossed the border, I had to figure out the speed limit in kilometers rather than miles! I was very much back in my element staying in hostels! I met a 75-year-old German woman, a Czech girl, and an Australian who all piled into my rental car the next day. We drove the sea-to-sky highway over the mountainous terrain and ocean. It was one of the prettiest drives, I've ever taken. The rain only enhanced its beauty.
Whistler was home to the skiing events at the Vancouver Olympics so I had to get a photo by the Olympic rings, since growing up this was the Olympics in which I always wanted to compete! Seven years later and without my skates, I finally made it to the rings!
Whistler was an adorable mountain town and next time I'm there, I will definitely bring my skis!
On the way back to Vancouver, we made numerous stops to look at the landscape including: Horseshoe Bay, Shannon Falls, and several of the mountain overlooks. Oh, and then a gas/petrol station in the pouring rain, where I couldn't figure out which gas was right, as none of them were labeled "unleaded." So, I went into the building and asked which one was unleaded. The response? "All gas in Canada in unleaded. You must be from America." Yes. Sorry fellow Americans, I was THAT tourist.
Parking garages close and lock in downtown Vancouver at midnight. Not that my rental car got locked in one or anything because I met up with a Vancouverite friend at 7, took four tries to find a restaurant open because they were all closed to a private event, had such a great conversation that the poor waitress came back four times before we were ready to order, were still talking when our food came so it was cold when we finally got it, met up with another friend, and again talked so much that it was 1 AM by the time I was done and then discovered the parking garage locked at midnight...not that any of that happened, but it is plausible that it could...
The ultimate adventure came on the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge was rather unstable and shaky, but is actually a very safe and well-engineered bridge. There were several other bridges throughout the trees.
I received a tour of the University of British Columbia campus by a current student and conveniently, some of my favorite British musicians happened to be performing on campus, so of course we went to watch. This was the second time I've seen Bastille live and they were so amazing they got their own blog post.
Even though it was another late night, I managed to drag myself out of my hostel bunk bed just in time for a yoga class at Semperviva's Sea Studio, overlooking the ocean. It was definitely one of my favorite yoga studios. After browsing Granville Island's market, I stopped at the Vancouver Catfe, a cat cafe!
Before crossing back to my country, I stopped at Richmond Olympic Center, now home to an ice rink. Several little skaters came in with their Zuca bags as I was leaving.
Then, it was time to leave Canada and start the drive back to Seattle. Out of curiosity, I stopped at the first border town on the American side, Blaine, Washington, a quiet and beautiful, coastal town. After wandering around the town for a bit, I stopped at Edaleen Dairy to try their homemade ice cream. When I got back to my car, the sun was shining and my sunglasses were missing. So I went back to the dairy, where they were waiting for me in a drawer by the counter. Thank you kind workers of Edaleen Dairy for saving my sunglasses!
In short, Vancouver exceeded my expectations in every way and is now one of my favorite cities!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
What am I up to today? Check out my Instagram feed below to find out!