Traveling the Circumference of the World with Type 1 Diabetes

Contributor
Erik Douds

 

erik

Erik on a remote two day boat trip in Gambella, Ethiopia reporting on flooding

Hi, my name is Erik Douds and I’m a former CDN Chapter Leader on a journey to fly the entire circumference of the world with Type 1 diabetes. Since 2013, I have spent 418 days outside of the United States. Type 1 Diabetes does not limit the destinations I’ve traveled to: Ethiopia, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, U.K, Portugal, Germany, Prague, Mexico and Thailand. On May 1st, I touched down in NYC to complete the flight around the world.

This trip is to prove that there is no place closed off for us to explore. We have no limits and I'm proving that every day. I see this trip as an example of how to step out of our comfort zone and overcome the mental and physical challenges of our disease.

Here are a select few insights for those looking to explore the world:

1) We all have to adjust - both culturally and physically.

Physically, jet lag takes on a new meaning with T1D. I can count on blood sugar spikes for up to two weeks after landing in a new country. Kerri, from SixUntilMe, gets nervous during flights and her blood sugar flight climbs as the plane gets higher and higher.

Culturally, there are new foods that we need to carb count. How do you count the 6 different types of milk available in Danish grocery stores? You will make mistakes along the way. However, pairing CalorieKing with a lightweight portable food scale is one tip that can help avoid accidents.

2) Emergency plan A, B, & C.

How do you get supplies when you are gone for 9 months? What happens when all your meters break? True story: what do you do when you lose your pump? True story: how do you wade through crocodile infested waters with a pump?

You and I have the knowledge and experience to help other travelers with diabetes take preventative measures against emergency situations. If an accident does occur, you can learn from our stories on what practical measures were taken to solve the problem. Keep an eye out for future blog posts about my travels, or feel free to ask me a question via email!

3) A new perspective on medicine.

In Ethiopia, the cost of an insulin pump is approximately 100,000 Ethiopian birr. According to the World Bank, the country’s per capita income is $470 or roughly $1 USD per day. This means it will take 100,000 days, or 273 years, for a person in Ethiopia to afford a pump. On the other extreme, in Denmark every citizen has access to treatment. As a U.S. citizen, I am very lucky, and in my opinion, our access to treatment comes with a responsibility to help other’s less fortunate than ourselves. Locally, I help underprivileged children in New Jersey by providing medical treatment and scholarships to a specialized diabetic camp. You can read about the work here.

I hope that through my blog posts about my travels, I can provide tips, resources, and inspiration for people with diabetes to travel the world. In future posts, I’ll be covering cultural events, cuisine, pre-departure, tips, and more!

Here is a taste of what will be offered, tune in soon to learn more.

erik

Chiang Mai, Thailand where Erik was part of a holy festival on the last day of Song Kran (their new years).

You can join the community of travelers with diabetes on Instagram @DiabetesAbroad. We invite you to share photos of your travels.