Tips for traveling to Czech Republic with diabetes

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Any Type 1 diabetic can visit the Czech Republic without worry or fear. All it takes is some preparation and the right attitude.

Here are some tips for diabetes travel to the lovely Czech Republic, which has a lot of great things to offer the intrepid traveler. Diabetes can’t stop you from seeing whatever you want in this mesmerizing Central European country between Germany, Austria, and Slovenia.

Blood sugar check on Prague's famous Charles Bridge.

Blood sugar check on Prague’s famous Charles Bridge.

What you’ll find in this diabetes travel guide to the Czech Republic

As a traveling Type 1 diabetic, I’ve included some of my own experiences in the Czech Republic here, plus diabetes tips, incidents, and advice that I’ve developed after years of exploring the globe with a backpack full of insulin and blood sugar test strips.

See these topics below:

guy-with-selfie-stick-charles-bridge-prague

How to speak Czech – for T1Ds

If you want to communicate that you’re diabetic in the Czech Republic, you’re in luck. There is a Czech term for it, but the most useful term happens to be the English word “diabetes”. If you really want to say it – perhaps to impress people – try this (and roll the Rs):

svet-sladkosti-sweets-stall-cesky-krumlov-czechAt any rate, having to communicate that you’re diabetic is unlikely. Only in an extreme circumstance would you have to tell some doctor or nurse about it, and part of the fun of traveling as a diabetic is that you must overcome your fear. An emergency won’t happen; go!

It is a good idea, though, to wear a bracelet or necklace or something that identifies you as a diabetic. As stated, the English word “diabetic” will be fine, as will the usual abbreviations like “DM” or “IDDM” (which, handily, matches the Czech phrase inzulin-dependentní diabetes mellitus – and no I’m not going to translate that for you!).

The Church of Bones in Kutná Hora. Those are real human remains.

The Church of Bones in Kutná Hora, with real human remains.

Traveling in the Czech Republic as a Type 1 diabetic

The Czech Republic is a modern and advanced country, and you will be able to find everything you need. There is a wide range of food available, and while some typical traveler food can be high in carbs, there is also meat and vegetables that you can mix in with the rice and bread. (See more about Czech food and diabetes below.)

You should bring the insulin and test strips that you’ll need for the whole trip, just to make it easier. Most guesthouses and hotels and hostels will have a refrigerator where you can store your insulin if you need to. Just remember to get it when you check out!

#bgnow 182 behind the Archbishop's Palace

Low blood sugar snacks can be found everywhere. Personally I always had a bottle of orange juice and some cookies or chocolate on me. There are convenience stores and kiosks all around, especially in train and bus stations, and grocery stores are easy to find. Always have enough low BG snacks on you; keep some in a separate bag too so you can replenish the supply you’re carrying if you use yours up.

The train tracks at Kutná Hora město station

Transportation

When Czechoslovakia existed it was fairly small; now that it’s split up into the two nations of Czech Republic and Slovakia, both are even smaller. An excellent train network extends to most corners of the Czech Republic, and buses will take you to destinations between the cracks.

Lunch may not be available on trains and buses, so if you’re taking a journey and aren’t sure, stock up beforehand. Sandwiches and chips and drinks are for sale at most stations. Buses may stop somewhere long enough for you to hop off and buy something, but this is hard to coordinate. Just bring enough with you before the trip begins.

peacock-closeup-kromeriz-gardens-czech

My route in the Czech Republic

 

My ten days in the Czech Republic, alongside my non-diabetic travel partner Masayo, were spent partially in smaller towns and partially in the famous capital city. Every place was different, and each was absolutely worth the visit.

Entering from Poland, we visited Kroměříž with its famous Archbishop’s Gardens (and peacocks) then went to Kutná Hora to see the amazing Church of Bones. After a few days in Prague, we saw the tiny southern town of Český Krumlov, where I overcame a brief illness before visiting a fantastic hilltop castle and the Egon Schiele Museum. Finally we passed through Brno and into Slovakia.

The ceremonial lugging of the tuba.

The ceremonial lugging of the tuba at Prague Castle.

My diabetes experiences in the Czech Republic

Not only did I regularly underestimate the carbohydrate content of Czech meals (especially dinners), but I was sick for a couple days, and my average blood sugar in the Czech Republic was rather high, though a slight improvement on what it had been in Poland.

Blood sugar check at the Church of Bones.

Blood sugar check at the Church of Bones.

When traveling with diabetes, always strive for better control. Even if you’re doing all you can, and still ending up low or high, don’t get discouraged. Just keep at it, and you’ll figure it out eventually. Not to perfection, but much better. As long as you’re paying attention, checking often, and trying to learn from each experience, you’re successful.

The "John Lennon Wall" in Prague.

The “John Lennon Wall” in Prague.

My diabetes stats from the Czech Republic:

These will be much better for you if you consider that dinners might have more carbs than you think. Watch our for those sauces!

But don’t let diabetes scare you from eating what you want: make your best guess, take your insulin, and then check and adjust as needed. Let diabetes be something you work with, not something that dictates your travels.

#bgnow 91 before dinner in Prague

Czech food

Your meals in the Czech Republic can include quite a range of foods. Here’s a sampling of what I, as a traveling diabetic with no real schedule or plans, found; your own experiences will likely resemble this to a degree.

Self-catered dinner in Prague

Coffee and cupcake shot.

Coffee and cupcake shot.

Breakfast buffet shot in Kroměříž. Say that three times fast.

Breakfast buffet shot in Kroměříž. Say that three times fast. Or say it once, at all.

Czech venison ghoulash.

Czech venison ghoulash.

Beer and Snickers in the room in Kroměříž

Blood sugar 173, mouth full of fried potato balls.

Blood sugar 173, mouth full of fried potato balls.

Public insulin injections in the Czech Republic

In restaurants, you may be able to shoot up at the table, depending on how and where you do it. Personally, I inject into my legs and did so at tables in public, right through my pants and long underwear. Not the recommended way, but it never gave me any problem (and if there was a dot of blood, it would wash right off my Bluff Works travel pants).

The Humalog shot that would determine my evening fate.

Accommodation in the Czech Republic

I recommend booking.com which is the website I used to book all my rooms in the Czech Republic. You can specify price, room type, amenities, free breakfasts, location, etc.

Here are some examples of where we stayed in the Czech Republic, and what you can expect from Czech lodging:

Penzion Centrum in Kutná Hora

Hostel Merlin in Český Krumlov

Me with statue and my hat

Have you been to the Czech Republic?

I’m always looking to meet people – diabetic or not! – who have traveled to the Czech Republic. Tell me your experiences, or let me know if you have any specific questions.

Diabetic travel nerds who are more serious about traveling to the Czech Republic are advised to check out my daily travelogue (links below); I discuss the places I went, food I ate, insulin I took, and blood sugar results in much more detail.

You can go anywhere with diabetes!

Share your travel stories, give advice, or ask a question in the comments section.

Next page: Tips for traveling to Poland with diabetes

“The guide to surviving Poland as a diabetic traveler. Read these tips on insulin doses, Polish food, blood sugar checks, and more before you go!”

About the author

Jeremy has traveled to over 40 countries, taken several road trips across the United States (and Canada), and lived on and off in Japan for several years. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1982 but doesn't let a little thing like that stop him from exploring the world.

Jeremy writes about his travels with diabetes on 70-130.com as a way of logging his excursions and of inspiring others who might be feeling hesitant to take their own big bite out of life.

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