The Trouble with Travel

September 21, 2022
Dani Petrunich
I’m currently sitting in the airport with my lacrosse team, waiting to board our flight to Florida for Spring Break (woohoo!). We’ll be away for five full days: we’re opening our season with two big games, practicing, and getting some sun. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for weeks- when we got back to school after winter break in January, we entered pre-season, the most intense time of the year. We’ve been practicing, lifting, conditioning, doing pool workouts, watching film, and even shoveling snow off of our turf field for two months straight…gotta love that New England weather…so as you can imagine, we’re itching to start playing some games and soak up some rays in Florida!

I started packing two nights ago, and let me tell you, I had a hard time fitting all of my clothes, toiletries, swimsuits, and lax gear into one bag and a carry-on! Plus, on top of my turfs, uniform, goggles, mouthguard, and the head of my disassembled stick, I had to fit my giant black bag of diabetes supplies into my backpack…I must’ve shifted things around about ten times in my carry-on until I got them all to fit. Then, once I finally had all my belongings perfectly packed, I suffered periodic panic attacks that I had forgotten something essential-particularly my diabetes supplies. Sunscreen and toothpaste are pretty easy to pick up at a gift shop should I forget them; Glucagon is not.

Regardless, I made it to the airport with whatever I have in the bags at my feet. I like to think I’m a pretty efficient flyer at this point- I’ve done my fair share of traveling with my family, and I know the tricks to getting through security as quickly as possible. Even with these strategies, though, traveling as a diabetic can still be challenging. Thankfully today was smooth sailing through airport security, but as many of you know, that is not always the case.

Traveling through security as a diabetic can be a bit of a nightmare. It’s slow, annoying, and sometimes even awkward- I don’t like being asked to step aside for an uncomfortable pat-down for having an insulin pump on my hip, or the sideways glances that ensue from fellow travelers. I don’t enjoy the bag check that messes up all of my strategically-packed items, or seeing my personal belongings strewn all over that cold metal examination table. And I especially don’t appreciate the attitude I get from some TSA employees. I’ve been heckled and hassled over my healthcare supplies- one security man even had the nerve to say “I really don’t think you need to carry juice with you on an airplane…it’s just not necessary.” I was reduced to tears at an airport in Germany, and I almost always leave the security checkpoint in a fluster- cheeks red, eyes down, and very, very irritated.

“Sunscreen and toothpaste are pretty easy to pick up at a gift shop should I forget them; Glucagon is not.”

I fully understand that there is a need for increased airport security today, and I appreciate the hard work and concern of TSA security men and women all over the map…but that doesn’t change the fact that traveling through security can be a pain. Thankfully, I’ve improved my airport travel to an art today, and I have some tips to help move you through security as swiftly as possible. First, have your insulin and other liquids ready to go in a Ziploc bag at the top of your purse- this way they’re easily accessible and you’re prepared to pull out your quart-sized bag when you reach the conveyor belt. Also have a doctor’s note at the ready should anyone start giving you a hard time. Just to avoid unnecessary conflict, don’t even bother adding juice to your plastic baggie- you never know how people are going to respond. Instead I carry one juice bottle in my bag, toss it in the trash before security, and buy a new one after I pass through the checkpoint. I also use Starbursts and other sweets to treat my lows when I travel (one of the few upsides of going to the airport!). And mentally, just be fully prepared for what may await you at security, and be as helpful and patient as possible.

Point is, don’t let airport security phase you! It’s challenging for everyone- diabetics especially- but it’s a necessary part of airtravel today, so just follow these tips to make security as pain-free as possible for everyone involved and continue on your merry way to wherever your plane is taking you! Good luck and happy travels!

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