I couldn’t help but agree instantly when my dear friend, Kortney, texted me on my day off from work to see if I wanted to go to the beach with her. It seemed like the perfect way to spend a breezy 80 degree day.
As I packed a tote bag of all my beach essentials, I started to think about how much planning and effort goes into a diabetic taking a day trip anywhere, including the beach. I developed a mental list of what I would need to make the day successful, and for the most part, I did sufficiently well. My blood sugar stayed at a relatively good level while I was away, and I was prepared in case of sudden spikes or drops.
So how did I do it? I have devised a series of tips over the years that guarantee my wellness throughout the duration of a day trip. Mainly, I learned from past trips to the beach. There have been times in which I left the house without certain vital supplies, like test strips. I remember being sixteen years old and going on my first trip to the beach with friends, and the panic I felt when I realized I was forced to ration out three test strips over the course of an eight-hour trip.
That would be my first tip: always make sure you’re prepared for any scenario. This harkens back to one of my earlier blog posts, and I think that this is an extremely important bit of advice. You can never have enough glucose tablets or pen needles on hand! Once you’ve inventoried all that you need for a day trip, you can check off the first bullet on your list.
Speaking of supplies, one should always consider how it is recommended for a diabetic to keep their medications refrigerated whenever it is possible. That’s why I own a mini cooler that fits a humalog pen perfectly. So there’s tip number two: if you can swing it, pack your meds in something that will keep them cool and protected from any damage throughout the day.
Now that you’re set on the supplies front, I’d suggest devoting a portion of your time to planning out what you will eat over the course of the day (my second tip). In the past, I’ve resorted to taking the lazy way out and packing bags of sweet and salty foods, like chips and cookies. It was no wonder that when I did that, my blood sugars would escalate and fall with greater unpredictability. I can’t disagree with the fact that it’s easier to pack bottomless bags of food when you’re in a hurry, but it’s definitely worth it to take the extra ten minutes to plan your meals before you get out of the house.
That brings me to my third tip: predetermine your meals and snacks for a day out. For this particular instance, I brought a medium-sized cooler that was stocked with waters, a salad consisting of a mix of veggies and proteins, and a container of fruit salad. I also stuffed a couple of granola bars into the cooler as a quick fix in case my lower-carb lunch resulted in a low. This worked out very well for me. I only needed to give myself a small dosage of humalog at lunch (four units) because of the miniscule carb intake, and this meal prevented my sugar from spiking later on in the day.
In the end, my advice for beach trips and summer outings is basically to plan ahead as much as possible. That way, you can fully enjoy whatever fun activity you’ll be partaking in without diabetes interfering too much. Also, a word to the wise: Don’t forget the sunscreen! Diabetes or not, there’s nothing that can ruin a day like a sunburn. Unfortunately, Kortney and I had to learn this lesson the hard way. One week later, and I’m still sporting a super attractive red back. Luckily nothing else was burned, but now I know to bear this piece of advice in mind, along with everything else, the next time I go to the beach this summer.