Tips for traveling to Lithuania with diabetes

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You want to visit Lithuania – but you have diabetes, and you’re nervous about being in a strange land with such a difficult and unpredictable condition.

No problem! Anyone with Type 1 diabetes can visit Lithuania, go anywhere in this hidden gem of a country, and eat the food in any restaurant.

Just follow some basic tips, and be prepared for your trip to Lithuania with diabetes.

Blood sugar check at the Hill of Crosses (see below).

Blood sugar check at the Hill of Crosses (see below).

This is your personal guide for traveling to Lithuania as a diabetic, or with a travel partner or kid who is diabetic. In this guide you will find:

How to speak Lithuanian – for T1Ds

How to say “diabetes” in Lithuanian? To be honest, it’s extremely unlikely to come up in your trip there. You should be wearing something (bracelet, necklace, etc) that identifies you as a T1D while traveling; the English should be understood by any medical personnel.

But if you want to learn it, or just want to drop it into conversation with a Lithuanian for your own amusement (hey, I’m not here to judge you!) try these phrases:

Realistically, medical professionals will most likely know the English word “diabetes”. If you are in a situation (unikely!) that you need to communicate it, just say it in English, and/or show an insulin pen or CGM or some other diabetes supplies. They’ll instantly understand and know what to do.

asd

Diabetics traveling to Lithuania should know that “carbohydrate” is “angliavandenių”. This yogurt has 12.7 g of carbs per 100 g of yogurt.

Traveling in Lithuana as a Type 1 diabetic

Lithuania is situated between Latvia and Poland, and also borders Belarus and the Kaliningrad part of Russia. The food in Lithuania often features meat and potatoes, but international/ethnic restaurants and shops with snack foods abound like anywhere else.

To get low blood sugar snacks, go to a convenience store, supermarket, or kiosk; you will find juices, colas, chocolate bars, cookies, and things like that. Always make sure you have enough low BG stuff with you; it’s best to keep some on you and also some in reserve in a bigger bag, maybe in your room, if you’re going out. You might end up in a place or a situation (on a long bus) where nothing is available. Stock up when you can.

#bgnow 154 with a statue in New Town, Kaunas

Unlike, say, Latvia, trains are a viable way to get around Lithuania, though you may also find buses convenient in many parts. Both are reliable and not too expensive, although there may be no services on board either. If you know you’re going to be on a long trip one day, buy sandwiches or something for lunch beforehand. Trains probably won’t stop anywhere long enough for you to jump out and buy something. Buses will, but you won’t know when so don’t rely on it.

My route in Lithuania

 

I spent nine days in Lithuania, mostly in three cities. Every day was packed with activity; I was with my travel partner Masayo and we saw so much it’s hard to believe it was only nine days. What I’m saying is you can see a lot of great stuff here.

We first went to the capital Vilnius by bus from Latvia, then went to Šiauliai by train, and then to Kaunas by bus. From Kaunas we went to Poland.

My diabetes experiences in Lithuania

In all honesty, my blood sugar was pretty bad in Lithuania. It wasn’t the country’s fault, nor its food; it was my poor Humalog dosing choices. The food I was eating had more carbs in it than I thought.

My diabetes stats from Lithuania:

When your BG is bad, all you can do is learn from it and try to improve in the future. For example, for the first half of my time in Lithuania, the average BG was 240; during the second half it was 158. That’s a huge improvement, so although your own diabetes stats in Lithuania might not be good overall, try to hone them as much as you can.

#bgnow 103 outside the churches in Kaunas in the morning

Lithuanian food

As a traveler, your food choices in Lithuania may include a wide range of foods, from nice restaurant meals to quick kiosk snacks. Overall you’ll probably get to know the same types of foods that I did, including:

Lithuanian soup in a bread bowl.

Lithuanian soup in a bread bowl.

Taking Humalog inside Varpas 154 cafe in Šiauliai

Taking a Humalog shot at Pakistani restaurant in Vilnius

Self-catered meal in Šiauliai. Looks good doesn't it? Possible if you have your own kitchen.

Self-catered meal in Šiauliai. Looks good doesn’t it? Possible if you have your own kitchen.

Blood sugar 140 after eating pizza. But would it hold?

Blood sugar 140 after pizza in Lithuania. But would it hold?

Shooting up for lunch on a Lithuanian bus.

Shooting up for lunch on a Lithuanian bus.

Overall, the important things for a diabetic traveling to Lithuania to remember are:

  1. Don’t shy away from foods.
  2. Check your blood sugar often, even if you think you know what it is.

There’s lots of good food in Lithuania; try new things and eat what you want!

Taking insulin in public in Lithuania

I usually took my insulin shots at the table at restaurants. Just be discreet, since some people might not want to see it. I use my legs, so could usually twist in a way that nobody noticed. This also meant injecting through my Bluff Works travel pants, but it was never a problem. Anyway, you can always find a restroom to duck into for your shot if that makes you more comfortable.

Rooms and accommodation in Lithuania

You can book accommodation before your arrival into a new town in Lithuania; I used booking.com for all my rooms. There is a large array of places all over the country, from cheap dorm beds in hostels to affordable guesthouses with private kitchens to top of the line luxury hotels.

When you go to Lithuania your experience is likely to be very similar to mine, if you like to save money but not live too rough:

The kitchen at Opera Inn in Vilnius. What could you make in here for dinner? :)

The kitchen at Opera Inn in Vilnius. What could you make in here for dinner? :)

Pigi Nakvyne living room. Downright plush.

Pigi Nakvyne living room. Downright plush.

kauno-arkivyskupijos-guesthouse-kaunas-lithuania

Buffet breakfasts

One thing we didn’t have in Lithuania was buffet breakfasts included with our rooms, as we had in Estonia and Latvia. This was because the places we found were so nice, at such good prices, that the lack of an included breakfast was worth it. Cereal and fruit bought the day before, or a café with coffee, was fine for us.

The places you can find to stay in Lithuania, if you so choose, can be varied, beautiful, and very comfortable without impacting your travel budget.

Keeping insulin cool in Lithuania

Some rooms have their own refrigerators, and that’s a good place to store your insulin while you’re staying. Smaller places, or hostels with dorms, will probably also have a refrigerator. Write your name and/or room number (the staff will have a marker) and put it in there. Don’t forget your insulin when you check out!

Things to see in Lithuania

There are comprehensive Lithuanian travel sites on the internet as well as great guidebooks, but some of the highlights you may or may not find in those sources are what I found in Lithuania:

On the edge of Old Town Vilnius.

On the edge of Old Town Vilnius.

Gediminas Tower.

Gediminas Tower.

Frank Zappa bust in Vilnius, Lithuania

Trakai Castle at dusk.

Trakai Castle at dusk.

The Hill Of Crosses outside of Šiauliai, Lithuania

iron-fox-with-full-moon-in-siauliai-lithuania

wooden-smiling-devil-head-museum-kaunas-lithuania

There is much else to be seen and discovered in Lithuania; I hope you make it to some of the places I mention here but also find your own. Let me know what you find; I want to go back to Lithuania and I’m looking for ideas ;)

Have you been to Lithuania?

If you’re going to Lithuania and have any questions about diabetes control there, let me know. If you’ve been to Lithuania, diabetic or not, tell me about your time there. Did I miss anything important? Did you go to the same or different places? Let me know.

You can go anywhere with diabetes!

Read more about my travels in Lithuania

Come along on the adventure! Follow detailed travelogues about the wondrous sights, fascinating people, and varied diabetes experiences I encountered as a traveling T1D in Lithuania:

Day 16: Latvia To Lithuania: An Improvement In Blood Sugar?
Day 17: Classic Rock-themed Day In Vilnius
Day 18: Trakai, A Castle With Its Very Own Island
Day 19: The First Train Of The Trip: Vilnius To Šiauliai
Day 20: Sacred Hill Of Crosses And A Grinning Iron Fox
Day 21: Kaunas, Part City And Part Open-air Church
Day 22: Someday We'll Leave Kaunas... But Not Today
Day 23: Devils Appear To Haunt Our Lithuanian Travels
Day 24: Goodbye Baltics, Hello Warsaw

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

Next page: Tips for traveling to Czech Republic with diabetes

“Tips for visiting Prague and the rest of the Czech Republic with diabetes, from a diabetic traveler who has tested food and insulin across the country.”

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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