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!
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.
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.
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.
But if you dig languages, like I do, then here it is anyway:
- “diabetes” – cukrovka (“tsu KROVE ka”)
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.
The three big points to remember in Slovakia
Diabetic travel is made possible and rewarding when you keep the “three big points” in mind:
- Check your blood sugar often.
- Carry enough insulin, testing supplies, and low blood sugar snack at all times.
- Don’t be afraid to eat whatever you want and do whatever you want.
With this simple magic formula – being prepared and having a good attitude – anyone with diabetes can visit Slovakia!
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.)
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.
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).
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.
My diabetes stats from Slovakia
- Total number of BG checks: 37
- Average BG: 161
- Lowest BG: 44
- Highest BG: 308
- Average morning BGs (~12:00): 160
- Average afternoon BGs (12:00~6:00): 155
- Average evening BGs (6:00~): 168
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.
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:
- Potatoes – Potatoes are important in many Slovakian dishes. The fried potato balls are especially delicious. Be careful with them though – they can make blood sugar high. Be sure to try enough insulin. Check afterwards!
- Meat and goulash – In this part of Europe, goulash is an excellent delicacy. Served with pork, chicken, venison, or other types of meat, you should try this at least a couple of times while you’re in Slovakia. I found that goulash wasn’t as thin and carb-free as I thought. Eat what you want, but inject intelligently.
- International food – There are Mexican, Italian, Japanese, etc restaurants in Slovakia, especially in big towns like Bratislava. International fast food chains can be found too, as can local versions.
- Cafés – Modern coffee shops are as popular here as anywhere. There are also a lot of smaller, cuter, and arguably better ones for the interested traveler. These are recommended, and can offer various sandwiches, wraps, yogurts, drinks, and pastries. Often sweet, these foods generally require a nice big dose of insulin.
- Street food – Markets may contain a lot of interesting things to try – onion and kebab sandwiches, for example. Bread can be thicker than expected too; dial up the insulin!
- Bus and train stations – Trains often have a nice dining car on them where you can get a great, varied meal plus beer. Or, to save a little money, you can buy sandwiches and chips from a small convenience store in the station. Note that on longer bus journeys, it can be hard to plan where you’ll stop if you need lunch. I recommend stocking up beforehand.
- Low BG snacks – Always have plenty of juice, chocolates, or whatever you like on you at all times. This goes especially for trains and buses, and for when you’re walking around all day. You’ll probably be able to find something to buy quick, but not necessarily. Stock up when you can. There is even a candy bar called Diabeta to help you remember!
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.
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.)
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:
- Juraj’s Outback Hostel, Bratislava – A pleasant little apartment guesthouse on a quiet back street, Juraj’s is run by a nice guy who keeps a yard full of rabbits outside your door. He lives next door and is very helpful if you need him.
- Penzión Oáza, Levoča – Our room here was really large, attached to a full kitchen and dining table. Showers and bathrooms down the hall. In a corner of Levoča next to an old church, this is the type of place that’s convenient and has a great, warm vibe. The owner even gave us apples from her garden one night that became our breakfast.
- Hotel Alibaba, Humenné – Big and boringly functional. This is a modern hotel with several floors. Our room was small but super clean and had a great view over the town to the mountains. Their breakfast buffet was one of the nicest we saw anywhere. Excellent dinners too. A bit of a walk from the main station, but right next to a smaller side station.
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.
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.”