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What To Do In An Emergency As a Type 1 Diabetic - The South America Edition

Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
April 10, 2020
I thought it was a good time to discuss, what to do in an emergency. So...I have made a list of all the things that are worrying me, and how to solve them!
Emergency diabetic supplies
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So, I have got to the stage of my planning where I am super excited, but suddenly anxious because I have been worrying about all the things that can go wrong, and the what if’s, and subsequently getting upset because why do I have to deal with this stuff. I do this a lot before I go anywhere...but to put my mind at ease, here it all is.

Diabetes supplies
Taking a spare of everything
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My list of Diabetic travel fears & their solutions:

1) My insulin dies

Due to the extensive heat in the majority of South America, and the apparent Coldness in the South...I am naturally scared that my insulin will die in either climate. SOLUTION- I know I have my Frio bags to help regulate the temperature of my insulin, and I have three of them, so if I lose one then it’s not the end of the world, and most of the accommodation I am staying in hostel wise has communal kitchens which have fridges for me to store my insulin! 

So I need to calm down. Naturally some insulin will die, and if it all dies, then I know that I can source insulin pens from a pharmacy, all I will need to do is pay for it, which obviously I will be prepared to do. My research has shown me that Brazil, Argentina & Chile are not a problem for getting insulin as it's readily available, but perhaps in other countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia I may need to search around. 

TOP TIP- bring a prescription with you to your chosen country stating what it is you need, and translate it into the country of origin. So, for me, Spanish & Portuguese.

2) My monitor is stolen

This has actually happened before...in Thailand, I was ordering a cocktail (or bucket of cocktails-no judgement required) at the bar, and I took out my diabetic monitor to take some insulin. My sister then asked me a question, I turned around for a split second, whilst setting my monitor on the bar in front of me along with my handbag, turned back and my handbag was there...my diabetes monitor was not. 

Clearly someone thought they had stolen a phone, sorry folks, but you got a shitty blood glucose monitor! Anyway, if this happens in South America, I need to again, deal with it how I did there..firstly, I had a spare, actually I had two spares because I’m paranoid, but also, diabetic monitors are again relatively easy to come by in Pharmacies, at a cost, but when your health is at stake, the cost is necessary! So I will bring 3 monitors, and a little bit of “pocket money” to replace one if needed.

3) My pump is ripped off me

Okay so if this happens, I will cry, and I know the chances of it are slim, because you can’t actually see my pump when it is on me, but I have to include it because it bothers me. If this happens, I do have a spare pump with me, which gives me peace of mind, and if all else failed, and the spare broke or whatever the case may be...I can switch to pens and carry on as normal. I will survive.

4) My backpack is stolen

Considering this is where I keep my supplies, this would not be an ideal situation. BUT, I have my solution. Firstly, never ever ever ever keep all your supplies in one place, split them between two bags, or if you have a great boyfriend like mine, then three bags! I know that if my backpack is stolen, I will still have supplies left, it may not be enough to cover my whole trip, but again, I can switch back to pens and carry on as normal. I will survive.

5) I lose everything diabetic I own

If something completely went drastically wrong and god forbid a natural disaster occurred or whatever the case may be, I know that I can leave, and start again. It will not come to this, but it’s important to remember that you're not stuck, and if you are struggling badly with sickness and diabetes or whatever, you do have options and you aren’t alone.

Read Also: Our Epic 4 Month South America Backpacking Itinerary

More diabetes supplies
Seperating supplies gives me reassurance

Top 3 tips to pre-empt things going wrong


1. Don't panic

Make a list as I have done, note everything that is bothering you and gather the solutions for it- there is always a solution!

2. Make a few calls

If you want to know whether your insulin brand is available in the country you are visiting then give them a call! They can provide you with this information. Here is

• Eli Lilly & Company, tel: 01256 315000

• Novo Nordisk Ltd, tel: 0845 6005055

• Sanofi-Aventis, tel: 01483 505515

3)  Pack smart

Split all your supplies as many ways as possible & have extra money with you to cover the cost of needing to buy insulin or new monitors etc, that way you have peace of mind you have that money set aside in an emergency!

My diabetes dreams journal
When I over think, I use my journal to bring me back to focus

ALSO: Having insurance is obviously an essential in an emergency, so make sure you are covered. You can check out more on insurance cover for type 1 diabetics here.

I really could make a list of about 20 things I am anxious about, but these are my main issues- and I have just proven to myself I have a plan for each and every one of them. So before I wrote this blog, I was panicked and overwhelmed, but now I am seeing clearer and back to focusing on the great things!

I just need to remind me myself, I have done it before, and I will do it again!

Never give up.

Happy Travels,


*** This article is a part of our series: "Preparing for South America - The Checklist" <-- Check out this checklist here. ***

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