Tips for traveling to Slovakia with diabetes

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Any diabetic can visit Slovakia without fear or worry. Slovakia is a modern country with all the pharmacies, medical facilities, food shops and amenities you can find everywhere.

The trick to successfully traveling with diabetes in Slovakia is to internalize this: nothing bad will happen to you!

couple-walking-rain-bratislava

Bratislava in the rain.

This is the guide to getting the most out of Slovakia when traveling and dealing with diabetes. You’ll find tips about food and insulin in Slovakia, info about blood sugar and train/bus travel within the country, and a little about my own experiences in Slovakia as a Type 1 diabetic.

Read on for helpful tips about traveling to Slovakia with diabetes, not in opposition to it.

Frost on metal, way up in the High Tatras Mountains near Poprad.

Frost on metal, way up in the High Tatras Mountains near Poprad.

What to know about diabetes travel in Slovakia

If you are a Type 1 diabetic planning a trip to Slovakia, or are traveling with a diabetic to Slovakia, understanding what you’re getting into is important. Preparation and a good attitude will make your trip smooth and problem-free.

tourists-looking-bear-statue-bratislava-slovakia

How to speak Slovakian – for T1Ds

It is extremely unlikely that you will need any medical assistance as a traveling diabetic in Slovakia. Juggling insulin, food, exercise, and weird sleep schedules is different on the surface here, but ultimately quite similar to doing so at home.

And if you do need to communicate your diabetes-ness to someone, the English word “diabetes” will more than likely suffice. It’s used more than the actual Slovakian term, even by locals.

building-with-national-flags-bratislava-slovakia

But if you dig languages, like I do, then here it is anyway:

Although I think you’ll be perfectly safe and aware of your blood sugar in Slovakia, I do recommend you wear a bracelet, necklace, or something else that says “DIABETES” and/or “DM” and/or something similar on it at all times when traveling.

Behind the scenes of a travel blogger.

Behind the scenes of a diabetes travel blogger.

The three big points to remember in Slovakia

Diabetic travel is made possible and rewarding when you keep the “three big points” in mind:

With this simple magic formula – being prepared and having a good attitude – anyone with diabetes can visit Slovakia!

jeremy-empty-fountain-gold-bratislava

My route in Slovakia

 

My trip to Slovakia lasted eight days. I was with my travel partner Masayo, who is not diabetic but is used to me being diabetic.

We entered Slovakia from the Czech Republic, starting in the capital Bratislava. From there we took a long train trip through the Tatras Mountains to the town of Levoča. From Levoča we visited nearby Poprad and took a series of cable cars way up into the High Tatras Mountains, and also hiked to the hilltop Spiš Castle (which was closed when we got there.)

Tree pose in Levoča

We spent the last couple days in the town of Humenné in eastern Slovakia, taking a bus to tiny and obscure Kalná Roztoka to see some old wooden churches there.

From Humenné we took a train into Hungary.

Kalná Roztoka church and cemetery

Little wooden church in an obscure corner of Slovakia, a couple of miles from the Belarus border. (Kalná Roztoka, Slovakia)

My diabetes experiences in Slovakia

Although it doesn’t necessarily predict what your experiences will be, my diabetes experiences in Slovakia may help you understand what you’ll have to deal with while there.

After gradually getting my per-country average blood sugars (BGs) down while trekking through the previous few countries, I finally had a significantly better one in Slovakia. I was still eating junk food and pizza sometimes, and big breakfasts and local pasta and potato and goulash meals too, but was taking enough bolus insulin to cover everything (well, more often than not).

#bgnow 133 with a snowball

When traveling, your BGs will not be perfect. That’s the trade-off to eating interesting new foods and being open to new things. But no matter how bad things get for you diabetically, if you keep trying to improve, eventually you will. Don’t give up! It took me several countries’ worth of travel. But it happened.

stary-smokovec-station-with-train-slovakia

My diabetes stats from Slovakia

Not perfect (not, for example, between 70 and 130) but consistent and a big improvement over what it had been. I can live with an average of 161 better than, say, 210.

Some light reading at an unstaffed "honor system" book stand, downtown Bratislava.

Some light reading at an unstaffed “honor system” book stand, downtown Bratislava.

Slovakian food

Food in Slovakia can be of a wide range. It’s a small country, and once was part of Czechoslovakia, so “Slovakian cuisine” is influenced a lot by neighbors such as Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

As a diabetic, your eating life while traveling in Slovakia will probably resemble something like this:

Dumplings with potatoes, sauerkraut, cheese and butter sauce.

Dumplings with potatoes, sauerkraut, cheese and butter sauce.

cafe-meal-yogurt-quiche-bratislava

Humalog at the Christmas market

Shameless insulin shot at an outdoor market. (Bratislava, Slovakia)

#bgnow 56 at the bus stop in Spišské Podhradie

Always carry something for low blood sugar! (Spišský Podhradie, Slovakia)

The perfect low blood sugar snack. (Levoča, Slovakia)

The perfect low blood sugar snack. (Levoča, Slovakia)

Taking insulin in public

If you inject with a pen or even a vial and syringes, you may be able to do it right at the table when you’re eating out. Try to be discreet; people probably wouldn’t care but they might not want to see it necessarily. You can always excuse yourself and go shoot up in a nearby bathroom if you’d prefer.

Trains and buses are the same: you may be able to do it discreetly in your seat, but you could be seated next to a stranger on a bus or facing two other seats on a train which could make it hard. Again, do your best right there, or go do it in the restroom.

Humalog shot in the cable car down to Štart

Scenic injection in a cable car. (near Poprad, Slovakia)

Personally, I use Humalog pens and my legs, and rarely went to the bathroom to inject: I did it through my pants, blocking the sight as much as I could with an arm and a twist of my body (or a bag set on my other leg as a shield). Sticking needles through clothes isn’t recommended, but I never had a problem. I even had a doctor once tell me it’s no big deal.

Blood never stained my pants either since they were good travel pants that washed easily.

(See my Full Review of Bluff Works Travel Pants.)

church-spire-sunlight-slovakia

Rooms and accommodation in Slovakia

If you use booking.com, like I do, you can choose the type, price, and location of where you stay. It’s a simple system and I always was pleased with our hotels and guesthouses.

Examples of lodging in Slovakia, based on my time there:

Rabbits at Juraj's Hostel in Bratislava

Some of Juraj’s rabbits. (Bratislava, Slovakia)

four-apples-penzion-oaza-levoca-slovakia

Our free apples from the owner of Penzión Oáza. (Levoča, Slovakia)

hotel-alibaba-exterior-humenne-slovakia

As you can see, the range of accommodation in Slovakia includes many types of places. Prices aren’t too bad, especially considering the friendliness, the (sometimes) free food, and the great location of these places.

lion-humenne-castle-closeup

Have you been to Slovakia?

If you are a diabetic who has visited Slovakia or has traveled there with someone who is diabetic, I’d like to hear about your experiences. How was your diabetes management there?

If you are planning on going to Slovakia with diabetes and have any questions or comments, let me know. 70-130 is here to help :)

You can go anywhere with diabetes!

Read more about my travels in Slovakia

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 Slovakia:

Day 45: Down Frosty Roads Into Bratislava, Slovakia
Day 46: Inept Ice-skating In Rainy Bratislava
Day 47: High And Low Blood Sugars, High And Low Tatras
Day 48: Playing In The Northern Slovakian Snow
Day 49: A Hilltop Castle In Slovakia: Access Denied
Day 50: Trapped Inside A High Tatras Cable Car
Day 51: The Wooden Churches Of Eastern Slovakia
Day 52: Humble Humenné To Happenin' Hungary

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

Next page: Tips for traveling to Hungary with diabetes

“Tips for traveling to Hungary with diabetes. Info on food, insulin, blood sugar, and more for diabetics visiting this beautiful and historical 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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