Keeping the “Well” in “Well-Travelled”

Traveller and grandfather, Doug Melnick, in Burlington, Ontario. SPONSORED CONTENT

The travel bug can be caught at any stage of life, but it’s increasingly likely to happen in retirement, when time and resources allow for extended trips and bucket list experiences. In fact, over the next decade, the Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI) anticipates that boomers will be the main pleasure-travel market, spending more than $35-billion annually.1

But as we age, travel planning may include new considerations such as health status and mobility restriction. Careful planning becomes even more important for those who live with a chronic disease, such as diabetes.

Doug Melnick was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes shortly after retiring. But Doug did not want this to stop him from going on adventures with his wife and his adult children and their kids.

Tips for travelling prepared

Vacations are full of adventure, offering the chance to indulge in new cuisines and routines. To make the most of these experiences, Doug plans ahead.

“Although the all-you-can-eat buffet can be tempting at a resort or on a cruise, choosing to eat in the restaurants instead has helped me stick to smaller portions.” People with diabetes are less likely to feel a foot injury, so Doug is mindful of protecting his feet and recommends that travellers pack water shoes for beach strolls or swimming, as well as supportive active shoes for hiking or walking on rocky surfaces.

Wherever Doug travels, self-monitoring his glucose levels is a part of his daily routine that does not change. Fortunately, travelling with an innovative technology called flash glucose monitoring has meant peace of mind, while eliminating the need for routine finger pricks.*

Doug uses the FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system to easily and discreetly scan for his glucose levels. This device measures, captures and stores glucose-level data in real-time with a toonie-sized sensor worn on the back of his upper arm.

As Doug says it “let’s me control my diabetes, rather than it control me.”

Balancing priorities to make travel dreams a reality

For many seniors like Doug, flash glucose monitoring technology may be impossible to choose until it is covered under provincial healthcare plans. In Doug’s case, he prioritizes paying for the technology while he’s away from home because he feels it gives him the freedom to enjoy adventurous vacations, like traveling to the Dominican Republic to snorkel with his daughter.

“I wish I could afford to use it all the time but for now it’s an added investment. I choose to use it when I travel because it is so convenient. I would prefer to use it all the time, but instead, I use the money we save to go on trips with my wife and family.”

Take Action: How you can help seniors
A 2018 CARP survey showed that 94% of Canadian seniors living with diabetes or caring for someone with diabetes believe the government should ensure that those affected by the disease don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for a new technology to monitor glucose.2 If you believe it should be covered, take action:

The FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system is indicated for measuring interstitial fluid glucose levels in adults aged 18 years and older who have at least 2 years of experience in self-managing their diabetes. For In Vitro Diagnostic Use Only. Always read and follow the label/insert for detailed instructions and indication of use.

* A finger prick test using a blood glucose meter is required during times of rapidly changing glucose levels when interstitial fluid glucose levels may not accurately reflect blood glucose levels or if hypoglycemia or impending hypoglycemia is reported by the system or when symptoms do not match the system readings.
1The Globe and Mail, “Travel industry adapting to boomers’ changing travel tastes,” 22 March 2018, <>
2Survey conducted on 04/25/2018 to CARP members. The survey was paid for by Abbott Diabetes Care, a manufacturer of diabetes care products in Canada