Tips for traveling to Slovenia with diabetes

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Slovenia is a small country in central/southern Europe full of interesting secrets and amazing landscapes and ancient towns. Travel to Slovenia with diabetes is easy, as long as you have the right attitude and do a little bit of preparation.

Diabetics who are thinking of traveling to Slovenia often fear what would happen if there were some diabetic emergency, or how they would handle food, insulin, and travel while there.

Lake Bled with island and castle hill

In fact, Slovenia is a fully modern country and traveling there as a diabetic is no more difficult than being at home with diabetes.

In this guide

This is your guide to traveling in Slovenia with diabetes, from a Type 1 diabetic who bounced around the fascinating country himself. In this guide you’ll learn:

Travel without fear!

jeremy-piran-belltower-endless-sea

The two main points to remember

Getting to and around Slovenia with diabetes is made much more smooth and satisfying if you keep two basic goals in mind:

  1. Have the right attitude.
  2. Be prepared.

rusty-metal-statues-fighting-ptuj-slovenia

Having the right attitude

The best attitude to have for Slovenian diabetes travel is to remind yourself that nothing bad will happen to you. Slovenia doesn’t present some unknown, impossible-to-handle obstacles for good blood sugar control more than any other place.

While a low blood sugar emergency is always possible, it is so unlikely that as long as you remember to keep an eye on your blood glucose level – check often – you can dismiss the thought. It’s all in your head, and worrying about it is not adopting the right attitude for travel as a diabetic.

You’ll be fine. Be confident and realistic. And be prepared.

Insulin in a bed and breakfast refrigerator.

Insulin in a bed and breakfast refrigerator.

How to prepare

You’ll need your diabetes supplies and a little knowledge about what to expect as a visitor to Slovenia.

My recommendation is to calculate how much you’ll need of everything, then bring twice that. Not only does this ensure that you will have what you need, even if something happens to part of your supplies, but it will help relax your mind if having enough supplies is something that might concern you.

#bgnow 106 after walking around Lake Bled

Personally, I took multiple insulin pens and blood sugar test strips with me to Slovenia, and the travel rules for those supplies can be applied to many types of diabetes travel:

  1. Keep your insulin cool. Most guesthouses, hotels, and hostels have a refrigerator where you can store your insulin supply. But even in summer, insulin can be kept cool enough that you probably don’t even need to worry with actual refrigeration. Wrapping your insulin up in something that doesn’t let in light, and keeping it buried in a big bag that you keep in your room while you’re out and about, should be fine.
  2. Split up your supplies. It’s very unlikely that anything would happen to one of your bags, but split all of your diabetes supplies for Slovenia up into equal amounts between your bags. For example, if you use one big bag and one day pack, keep half of your stuff in each. Again, this is not only practical but can reduce worry. And if someone snatches your bag, at least you can laugh at the idea of them excitedly opening it up and being disappointed by a bunch of insulin!

drinks-vending-machine-piran-slovenia-hostel

The other important thing about preparing for diabetes travel in Slovenia is something you can do while inside the country: always carry enough low blood sugar snacks with you. Convenience stores and kiosks are frequent. At bus and train stations especially, there will be vendors who see candy bars, juice, and other things. You can choose your favorites.

Always carry enough, and always buy more when you can if you’re almost running low. You may be trekking somewhere or riding on some transportation where snacks can’t be bought. Don’t assume you’ll find something; stock up when the chance comes.

Scuba divers with Santa hats.

Scuba divers with Santa hats.

How to speak Slovenian – for T1Ds

Although highly unlikely, if you want to communicate to someone in Slovenia that you are diabetic, you can use this translation:

However, more realistically, you can virtually always use the English word “diabetes”. (If it doesn’t work, try pronouncing it like “dee a beh tess”.) You should at any rate be wearing a bracelet or anklet or something that identifies you as diabetic, and says “DIABETES” on it.

Take the food you'll need onto Slovenian trains.

Take the food you’ll need onto Slovenian trains.

My experiences with diabetes in Slovenia

My average blood sugar, based on about 4-5 checks per day, was rather high, thanks to some mismanagement on my part with insulin doses. (See food/insulin info below.) My average per-country blood sugar on my long European trip had been getting better and better but in Slovenia got worse again.

Dinner bolus in the hallway of a Slovenian hostel.

Dinner bolus for Chinese takeout in the hallway of a hostel in Ljubljana.

If you consider that food in Slovenia may be higher in carbs than it seems, your own blood sugar control can be much better than mine. Mine improved over my time in Slovenia, so yours definitely can too!

My blood sugar stats in Slovenia

A blood glucose reading over 200 is one thing, but a BG over 300 is another. I only had two readings over 300 in Slovenia, both related to the same pasta meal. So one poor insulin dose can throw your average off quite a bit, but don’t worry: as long as you are aware of your BG and always try to adjust and improve, you’re doing the right thing!

Buying mulled wine in Ljubljana.

My route in Slovenia

 

Traveling with my partner Masayo, I spent about 10 days in Slovenia. We entered from Hungary by train on the way to Ptuj, the oldest town in Slovenia. We took a train through the capital Ljubljana and continued on to Bled, a famously beautiful lake town up in the Julian Alps, with a picturesque castle on an island. (A local restaurant proudly displays a note Paul McCartney left when he ate there on a vacation in 2005.)

We then spent a few days in Ljubljana and went to the fascinating ancient Roman town of Piran on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Another couple days in Ljubljana, where it was almost Christmastime and I tried to balance insulin and mulled wine from street vendors, and then we headed by bus to Croatia.

Choose your own adventure, Slovenia style.

Slovenian food

Food in Slovenia tends to be comprised of outside influences. Aside from sausages, potatoes, and bread dishes, there is a close link with neighboring Italy, so various pastas and pizzas are easily found. On the coast, delicious seafood is plentiful, while further inland look for goulashes.

Additionally, diabetic travelers to Slovenia will of course have to consider how to handle snack foods, big breakfasts, and other typical traveler fare.

A lot of food in Slovenia can be thick with carbs. Dose your insulin accordingly, and always check your blood sugar often and try to make adjustments next time.

Some types of food you may encounter in Slovenia include:

sausage-potatoes-sauerkraut-bled-slovenia

Slovenian pizza.

Slovenian pizza.

fruit-brownie-coffee-ljubljana

zito-food-store-ljubljana-station

breakfast-ptuj-slovenia-guesthouse

Diabetes is really a giant guessing game, no matter where you are. When eating in Slovenia, make your best guess and learn from whatever the reading is. Don’t shy away from eating what you want! Diabetes is something to work with, not for. You can be happy and make diabetes happy too. Just be conscientious and try your best.

lasko-beer-piran-sunset-slovenia

Injecting insulin in public

If you inject with a pen or needle, you can either do so in a restaurant or train seat, or go do it in the bathroom. Be respectful of others who may not appreciate seeing such grotesquery. Personally, I nearly always injected through my travel pants into my legs. Never had a problem, and I was always able to do it under the table or turn in such a way that people’s views were blocked.

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

humalog-shot-castle-wall-ptuj-slovenia

Rooms and accommodation in Slovenia

You can choose a wide range of accommodation in Slovenia. Booking.com is recommended since they have a great selection of places and it’s so easy to find what you want in your price range.

Your own trip to Slovenia may resemble mine as far as rooms, so look at this sampling:

tree-hallway-ptuj-slovenia-bed-breakfast

pension-union-room-bled-slovenia

viva-rooms-outside-street-ljubljana

val-hostel-piran-slovenia-outside

atticus-bed-breakfast-door-ljubljana

steps-colorful-walls-piran-slovenia-alley

Have you been to Slovenia?

Travel to Slovenia with diabetes is no problem at all. Have a good attitude and do a little preparation and you’ll have a problem-free trip.

If you’ve traveled to Slovenia, especially as a diabetic or with someone who has diabetes, let me know about your experiences.

christmas-lights-outside-ljubljana-night-slovenia

If you’re thinking of going, let me know if you have any questions or comments about it.

You can go anywhere with diabetes!

Read more about my travels in Slovenia

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 Slovenia:

Day 59: The Sunny Train From Hungary Into Slovenia
Day 60: Ptuj: The Oldest Town In Slovenia
Day 61: Bled Is Beautiful – Even In The Off-season
Day 62: The Most Beautiful Lake In Central Europe
Day 63: Looking For Joy In Ljubljana
Day 64: The Gigantic Christmas Burgers Of Slovenia
Day 65: Ljubljana In The Crisp, Sunny Cold Of Winter
Day 66: Piran, Slovenia: First Glimpse Of The Adriatic Sea
Day 67: Astonishing Old Piran On The Far Edge Of Slovenia
Day 68: Ljubljana Is So Nice, We Visited Twice
Day 69: The Bus That Takes You From Slovenia To Croatia

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

Next page: Tips for traveling to Croatia with diabetes

“Tips for traveling to Croatia with diabetes. Blood sugar, food, insulin info and practical ideas for packing and getting around this beautiful 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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