Okay – time for a helpful post rather than a “this is Jen’s personal journal to the world” post. Plus, I have some time to kill at work before I head home for more classes, practices and more all-out torture to my being before IGB hits me.
My hubs and I are big Disney Park fans. There – if you hate Disney, you can stop reading now. But if you are still with me, the pair of us somehow have made an annual trip down since before we got married. We honeymooned in Walt Disney World and visited again for our third anniversary. (We had a big year, health-wise too, so it was justifiable.) We’ve gone with friends, ourselves, on roadtrips, in giant fangroups… you get the idea. But I wouldn’t consider us fantatics. We don’t have a room in our home dedicated to creepy Disneyania, nor do we do the matching clothing thing as a couple (intentionally), nor do we spend every last bit of savings trying to throw a trip together. Usually when we go, it’s by the cheapest means possible. Ideally, in tandem with a work trip nearby, getting discount tickets, pulling a favor with someone in the industry, or scouring rates for the best possible roach motel on the South Harbor Strip.
We’ve decided to maybe splurge a bit and head down to the California resort for Holiday at Disney since this may be the last possible time we can without a munchkin in tow. (Knocks wood.) In honor of me throwing down a down payment for our stay at one of the more spendy resorts (because that’s what it freakin’ felt like!) because, again, we’ve never done that at the CA resort before, here is my advice for taking on the parks as a PWD. (You can also sub in Disney resorts for any theme park or vacation spot if you so choose. Disney is just what I know and have the most experience with.)
As with anything on this blog, my broken pancreas is mine and mine only. YDMV.
Packing and getting to the Resort:
1) I’m sure most PWDs will agree that packing for a short trip means packing enough supplies for a zombie apocalypse. For a weekend trip, I usually pack a box of everything: strips, infusion sets, and reservoirs. I’m sure I’ll probably just pack an extra sensor now that I have a CGM because it’s not life or death if I have to go without. But everything else? Well – yeah, the extra storage space in my suitcase would be nice, but so is not having to take a trip to the nearest pharmacy on vacation.
1a) What about insulin? For short trips, I don’t really bring a back up bottle. I know, I know. I really should. But I find that it’s more hassle (and slightly riskier) to expose a brand new bottle of insulin to seven million different temps while traveling. Usually, I’m safer with a bottle that is ¾ of the way full and already exposed to most elements. If something goes completely wrong, a pharmacy isn’t far.
2) On most trips, we fly to the Resort. With the CGM, I’ll be opting for a pat down from now on, so allow extra time for that if you are in the same boat. I generally check EVERYTHING sans a few essentials for the plane ride because I don’t want to be THAT person who tries to load everything into the overhead bin. And it makes security less awkward. However, my flights to SoCal are no more than 2 hours long, so it’s never a big deal to check things. For more extended flights, I’ll take a backup set change and supplies. I always pack snacks – generally ones that don’t melt or are super complicated to eat quickly. For long flights, a quick meal at a local sandwich shop will work just fine for dinner, et. al. Glucose tabs are my choice low treatment. I will also buy a coffee or something before takeoff, so getting a cup of water to go is never a big deal. (And neither is getting it on the plane.) From there, I plug in my (airplane mode enabled) cell phone and wait to land.
At the Resort:
1) We’ve lucked out with a couple of free upgrades to suites or have just stayed in places where fridges were an included amenity. I mean, it is an area geared toward families, so the desire to keep things cold is more of a necessity than say, in San Francisco. If I’ve brought extra insulin with me, it goes in there, far away from the icy freezer. When I was a kid, my parents would often shop for small juice and milk cartons for my snacks and kept them there. I don’t do that much as an adult, but the fridges are handy if the mood strikes (and for keeping leftovers).
2) Not necessarily for Disney trips only, but I find myself packing my own breakfasts when I travel. Especially now that I have a very specific routine in the morning that involves one Trader Joe’s Crumpet and some Almond Butter. This meal keeps the 2 hour post prandial under 180 on most days so it’s become my breakfast of choice. If I can’t get a crumpet, it’s an English muffin or half a bagel. Sometimes, we’ll get a free continental breakfast with the hotel and other times we’ll treat ourselves to something in the Parks or at a nearby restaurant. I’ve found that breakfast is a killer spot to avoid extra expenditures at the Resort, so I might as well save some money and my blood sugars by bringing my own stuff.
2a) On that note, it is easy to overdo the “bring your own food” thing. In planning our honeymoon, I actually shipped a BOX of supplies and non-perishables to our resort hotel because it was cheaper than trying to check it all. I really wanted to save money and thought we’d be living on microwave mac n’ cheese on our trip. (HA!) We ended up not eating most of it because we were barely in our room and had to throw a lot of it away. So if you do bring your own food supply, be realistic about it. Snacks, emergencies, and breakfasts – yes. Everything else? You’ll be too busy/tired to want to try everything else.
In the Parks:
1) I’ve never had much of an issue toting supplies into the parks. But every so often, you get the cast member who is one minute from pulling you aside and asking you to dump the contents of your bags. I usually avoid this by trying to pack as little as possible. WHAT? Yup! I try to go into the Parks with nothing but the essentials in a small shoulder bag. My parents used to tote everything around for me in a huge backpack, but this is when meters were the size of an iPad mini and I needed five insulins in tow to keep things normal. The only things I go into the park with now are:
– My meter and coordinating supplies
– A roll of glucose tabs and whatever else I can fit to treat lows
– A couple snacks
– My ID and ATM card and minimal cash
– My room key
– My cell phone
– Toiletries: anti-bac, chapstick, Kleenex, handi-wipes, travel sunscreen
That’s it! My reasons are that 1) if you have to walk an average of 6 miles in a day, do you WANT all of that on your back? 2) 6 miles requires breaks and naps, so I’m never without a chance to refill for more than 4 hours and 3) those ride pockets for your personal affects are NOT large enough to hold a back pack. Big Thunder Mountain doesn’t even have a seat pocket to store things.
2) As mentioned, the average person can walk up to 6 miles in those parks. Or if you are waiting in line all day, it could feel like it. That said, my blood sugars often take a tumble during multiple points of the day. Because the parks are so distracting, it’s easy to miss symptoms. So test, and test often.
2a) If you find yourself testing in a public space or in line, make sure your hands are clean! And I mean CLEAN. I swear those queue railings sweat sweetness from the amount of grubby hands that have touched them. Sugary hands can mean the difference between a 62 blood sugar and a 262 blood sugar. So those handi-wipes or anti-bac wipes are important.
3) Stay hydrated and cool. If you are visiting either Resort in the summer,
you are fuckin’ crazy you need to remember this key point. Hydration is important to keep ketones away and if your sugars are trending higher because of all the sugary goodness, you’ll need the clear liquids to keep things flushed out, otherwise you’ll end up being nauseous all afternoon. Plus – refilling a water bottle in the parks is cheaper than buying 10 souvenir cups. If you are using a pump – from personal experience in high heat/humidity conditions, I’ve never really had an issue with insulin breaking down. Perhaps because we were always moving and my sugars always trended lower, so we didn’t notice it much. We also took breaks and sought refuge in air-conditioned attractions.
4) Eating is always a bit of an experiment in the parks. Lots of new things to try and enjoy because it’s vacation! Since carb counting isn’t something I can just take a vacation from, I stick to the foods I know and it ends up being cheaper and better for everyone. I’m not going to say that I opt for the Fruit Stand on Main Street instead of the Dreyer’s Ice Cream Shop, because I don’t. I do avoid very starchy meals (bread bowls, rice, pizza, potato anything) and stick to things with more protein or a carb source I know from home. (Hot dogs are pretty easy and standard.) My husband and I sometimes will share a snack if I’m trending lower. (Like the beignets in New Orleans Square.) For stuff like that, I have to consider my daily average, how much activity I did or will be doing and what my plans for eating a “normal” meal are. I am still technically on vacation. Also – most restaurants in the Resort will have some low carb option (because, it’s a “thing” now days) and I’ve never run into an issue asking for sugar free syrup while out for breakfast.
Tah-dah! There, that’s not so bad right? I congratulate you if you’ve made it through this entire post. (It was kind of a doozy, but important!) If you are planning to visit Mickey and Co., it’s totally doable as a PWD. And if there are bumps in the trip, bolus and move on.