Kiersten is a Bikini-Obsessed World-Traveler & Former Cubicle-Dweller. She left her career in corporate finance to become a world traveler. The Blonde Abroad is an award-winning solo female travel & lifestyle blog featuring travel tips, fashion, festivals and photography from around the world.
Being a travel blogger means living a huge part of my life online. From shooting photos to creating posts to connecting with readers on social media, sometimes it feels like I’m always staring at a screen. And that’s exactly why I decided that it was time for a break from my busy schedule.
Québec invited me to disconnect from my routine so that I could fully connect with the destination. Living without my phone for five days, I was able to experience travel again like I used to– before the blog.
I visited the beautiful province of Québec in Canada with a documentary film crew to capture the full experience. It was the first time in the better part of a decade that I didn’t have my camera with me for a whole trip, and in hindsight, it was such a good feeling to be able to disconnect and be in the moment.
While it took an adjustment period, it was actually very liberating to see new places without any distractions. Having a digital break in Québec allowed me to truly take in the incredible natural beauty of Canada. And, while a lot of people opt to disconnect out in the wilderness, Québec offered the perfect balance for me.
There are so many places in and around Montréal to both relax and live it up! I have had some incredible adventures in Montréal before but traveling disconnected allowed me to see the region through a new pair of eyes.
With a cool intermingling of old world European culture (come ready to practice your French!), this vibrant North American city has it all.
The thing that I love most about Montréal is that it offers the perfect blend of urban fun and adventures in nature. You can get the full “disconnected and enjoying wildlife” experience without having to travel far into the countryside.
Right outside of the city, you can fly through the forest on a zipline or relax out in a boat out on the lake. I fell in love Lac Sacacomie, a beautiful lake just outside of the Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve between Québec City and Montréal.
While it’s great to have a digital break in the middle of nature, I tend to crave city life after awhile. The nice thing about a trip to Québec is that you can create this balance of urban and rural. Once I had my fix of outdoor fun, I explored some of the hotspots of Montréal. When it comes to checking out cool ‘hoods in Montréal, it’s all about Mile End, Little Italy, and Old Montréal.
I’d recommend grabbing a bike to explore the city. There are so many quirky little corners and stately spots to see.
Be sure to get up to Mount Royal for a perfect view of the city!
The Blonde Abroad’s trip to Québec | QuébecOriginal - YouTube
Traveling as much as I do, there is nothing better than getting home and giving my skin some much-needed love. Though, as I approach my thirties, I’ve had to adjust my skincare routine to better serve my derma-needs.
My cleanse, dry and go habits no longer suffice. So, over recent years, I’ve directed my attention to medical dermatology as a way to improve and maintain my skin’s vitality.
When I first moved to the area, I spent some time searching for the right skincare clinic in Cape Town. I’ve learned that when it comes to cosmetic dermatology, the quality of doctors can vary greatly.
On my search for the best dermatologist in Cape Town, I came across Dr. Nerina Wilkinson, and our love story began.
Looking for a place to solve all of your skin-related issues? Well, lucky for you, I found the best cosmetic skincare clinic in Cape Town. Here’s what you should know about the SKIN Clinic.
About Dr. Nerina Wilkinson
As one of the premier cosmetic specialists in Cape Town, Dr. Nerina Wilkinson is a highly respected and well-renowned surgeon. She’s also among South Africa’s small number of female plastic surgeons, which makes for yet another reason to fangirl over her.
While there are some great male dermatologists in Cape Town, I find that I connect more naturally with women when it comes to aesthetics. After doing my due diligence researching dermatologists in Cape Town, Dr. Nerina Wilkinson blew me away with her skills, professionalism and array of services.
This is my go-to skincare clinic in Cape Town for a few reasons. Of course, there’s Dr. Nerina Wilkinson, who is an esteemed member of several councils and associations for plastic surgeons and dermatologists in Cape Town.
This is something to make note of when you’re searching for a doctor, as a lack of endorsement or association is NOT a good thing in the world of medicine.
To add, SKIN Clinic has an all-female expert staff who specialize in naturally beautiful skin enhanced by science-based cosmetic dermatology.
I’m delving into the non-surgical offerings due to the fact that the clinic has a whole host of non-invasive options that make a world of difference. Cosmetic Dermatology can help treat skin conditions such as aging, skin damage, pigmentation, acne and scarring.
Medical facials were my gateway into preventative skincare. While a basic spa facial will leave your skin glowing for a day, a medical facial is designed for targeted, long-term effects. There are countless treatments that can include everything from an LED light treatment to chemical peels.
And hear me out on these peels! I know a lot of ladies are freaked out by the sound of it, but they do wonders for acne scarring, fine lines and pigmentation!
It’s important to note here that chemical peels come in three grades: superficial, medium and deep. Start small and work your way up. Also known as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), Dermapen needling is another one of my favorite treatments. It targets fine lines and wrinkles, as well as large pores.
Don’t let the name of the treatment freak you out — it’s not as bad as it sounds! Your face is numbed before the procedure, so you’re totally comfortable throughout.
Getting Started with Cosmetic Dermatology
A lot of people regard cosmetic dermatology as a luxury, but I’d highly recommend making it part of your regular routine. Your skin is the largest organ on your body– so make it a priority!
Investing in your face is an invaluable way to upgrade your look and mood. In your twenties, don’t just bask in the glow of your youth, start educating yourself on preventative skincare.
If you’re a local looking for a skincare clinic in Cape Town, I’d highly recommend checking out SKIN Clinic. Not only do they offer amazing services and an expert staff, but they are also quite affordable. If you live abroad, the clinic is worth considering for medical tourism.
Unlike in Europe and the U.S., dermatologists in Cape Town offer premium cosmetic dermatology services at reasonable rates. As if there weren’t already enough reasons to come to Cape Town!
I’m on a wild hunt to find all of the best safari spots in Africa. During my travels to Botswana, Kenya, Namibia and beyond, I have fallen head over heels for the continent. Africa has more stunning landscapes rich in fascinating wildlife than I can count.
If you’ve never been on a safari, open up another tab in your browser to start booking an African adventure. Of course, with so many safari lodges all over the continent, it can be challenging to find the right one for you, so I’ve come up with a few tricks to help you out.
Here are the top things to look for when choosing a safari lodge.
I personally LOVE boutique accommodation in very natural settings. Give me an open-air treehouse any day of the week! But, it ultimately depends on what you’re in the mood for.
Price is going to be a factor here, so decide how you want to spread your safari budget. If you’re only staying for a short time and plan on spending a lot of time out exploring, it might not be worth the cash for super luxurious accommodation.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to stay in one place for a while, I’d recommend splurging on a world-class safari lodge.
As soon as you set foot in the African wilderness, you will realize that a safari is so much more than just a vacation. Getting away from it all and being in the African bush will remind you how breathtakingly beautiful the world really is.
It’ll also remind you how important it is to preserve these natural habitats. When you are looking for a safari lodge, be sure to look up their conservation efforts.
If they aren’t giving back to the local environment, there’s a fair chance they are actually hurting it.
My experiences at luxury safari lodges have always been next-level amazing! It goes without saying that staying in places that cost over $1,000 per person per night can be incredibly indulgent. However, you can find safari experiences for less.
Though, with cheaper options, tread carefully. Often, modestly priced lodges are not all-inclusive, so you might end up paying more for extra activities and alcoholic drinks.
Some budget picks also tend to be more crowded. From the lodge to the game drive, things can get packed. Before you book, try to establish how many guests a property can accommodate. It is a good sign when the safari-lodge website explicitly states how many people will be on game drives.
Let me start by saying that I absolutely love Morocco. From the charming quaint villages of the Atlas Mountains to the vibrant city markets, this is one North African country that should be on your travel bucket list.
With that said, people often ask me if Morocco is safe, and if it is a good travel destination for females. The simple answer is: yes. I traveled all over the country and I never felt in danger.
That being said, Moroccan culture may take some adjusting to if you haven’t experienced anything like it. So, below, I’ll tell you what it’s like traveling as a woman in morocco!
Set Boundaries in Morocco
As soon as you hit the streets, you’ll likely attract the attention of a few men. Whether they are shop-owners trying to get a sale or locals trying to get a reaction out of you, the unwanted attention gets stale very quickly.
I would say that from personal experience and feedback from friends, the most painful part of Morocco is unwanted attention from men. It’s not that I felt unsafe, just extremely uncomfortable with so much attention and name calling. I won’t sugar coat it. I heard expletives of all kinds shouted at me, from “you’re a wh@re!” to “suck my d!ck, Miley Cyrus!”.
I found it best when I covered my head in crowded areas and would walk closely to other tourists– specifically men. That might sound crazy, but when my friend Jessica and I walked closely behind male tourists, the cat-calling stopped completely.
The best advice I can offer you is to simply ignore it. Don’t feel obligated to respond to everyone who talks to you and get comfortable with having their words go in one ear and out the other.
The male harassment can start to feel overwhelming, but it’s worse if you let yourself get worked up. I was frequently tempted to scream back at the men equally expletive things. But, know that it is not worth it. Morocco is a different country, with different laws, and, unfortunately, the law might not always be just or in our favor.
Again, it’s not that I felt unsafe in Morocco, but the leering could be uncomfortable at times. So long as you don’t stop and engage with every man that looks your way on the street, you’ll find that it gets easier to ignore.
Dress Appropriately in Morocco
Finding the right clothes to wear in Morocco is very much a large consideration. Ultimately, the less you wear, the more attention you are going to get.
This is an issue made tricky by the fact that it can get incredibly hot in the country. Temperatures exceed 100 degrees in the Sahara Desert in the summer so staying cool is an actual necessity.
While you can go to Morocco alone and be perfectly safe, I think this is a place best enjoyed with friends. I would never say you need a man along to have a good time, but you will get less attention when you’re with others (especially those of the male variety).
I’ve even heard of female travelers who wear faux wedding rings to keep men at bay. Though, from my experience, the local men started calling at me before I was close enough for them to see my fingers.
You can have a great time in Morocco with your girls, too. I traveled with my friend Jessica. It was definitely annoying for us walking around together at times but, the few times we went into the city alone, we were far more overwhelmed. Traveling in a group will definitely make you feel less singled out by cat-callers.
If you do want to experience Morocco alone, consider joining an organized tour group. There are incredible options all over Morocco that are worth checking out. Otherwise, grow thick skin and always use common sense!
Research Morocco’s Culture
Whether you’re traveling to China, Brazil or Morocco, for example, it’s always good form to learn about the culture before you go. It’s easy to make a faux-pas when you don’t know the local customs.
Morocco is a predominantly Islamic country, which means that women dress very conservatively (though, in tourist hotspots like Marrakech, you’ll see all kinds of fashion).
Most local women don’t smoke or drink in public and, in many Moroccan cities, it’s a common belief that only prostitutes do these things. You often won’t see women out by themselves, and storefronts are usually hangouts for men only.
It is also worth noting that only Muslims are allowed into some mosques. However, there are a few open to tourists. Keep in mind you’ll need to be covered past your knees and over your shoulders to enter.
I wanted to share my personal experience (the good, the bad, and the ugly) so that you can have realistic expectations before visiting. Travel is not always butterflies and rainbows. Aside from the unwanted attention, I truly had an amazing trip. Morocco is a beautiful country and most people I met were absolutely wonderful.
Shop my favorite looks for Morocco!
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. That income goes to supporting this website and keeping it free for you and everyone else! As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own
As one of the most intriguingly beautiful cities in the Caribbean, Havana has a special place in my heart! I had a whirlwind 2-day adventure in Cuba’s capital indulging every single one of my senses.
With so much to see and do, I was able to maximize my time in Cuba with some advanced planning. While I’d definitely recommend staying longer if you can, it is possible to have a memorable trip in just a couple of days.
Ready to get packing? Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Havana.
Get Your Bearings
I visited Havana with my best friend on an epic girl’s trip to the Florida Keys and Cuba. To make the most of our 48 hours in Havana, we started our trip with an hour-long tour in a classic car. Lounging in a bubblegum-pink vintage convertible was the perfect way to to tour the city.
The driver took us around to all of the top sites, and I was able to get a sense of what was where. Before going, check out my tips for renting a car in Cuba. It’s easy and totally worth it.
While it’s fun to do a tour by car, I found that a pedicab is the best way to get around. To see as much as possible in our short time, we hired a driver for the entire day.
It’s an affordable option, and it let us comfortably take in the city while still getting around efficiently. The bicycle rickshaw drivers are locals who know where everything is and can give you an insider view of the city.
La Guarida restaurant is a local icon, and it has a distinctly Cuban atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to get your first taste of the local cuisine, but it’s incredibly popular with tourists and locals alike so be sure to book in advance.
Reserve a table on their website or give them a call on Skype.
Get Yo’ Drink On!
When you’ve only got 48 hours, it’s okay to start your day with booze before breakfast — especially in Havana! After all, this is the birthplace of the mojito and daiquiri.
La Bodeguita is the place to go for mojitos, while La Floridita is all about the daiquiris. Just keep in mind that both places are busy, so you’ll want to get there before they open.
La Bodeguita opens their doors at 8 a.m., and you can get into La Floridita after 11 a.m.
As you likely already know, Cuba has a rich culture and intriguing history. Just in the short time that I was in Havana, I learned so much. Since you can’t get around to everything in two days, I’d recommend picking one or two spots for your first day and then see what you’ve got time for on day two.
The Capitol Building, El Capitolio, is a grandiose building in the heart of Havana. You’ll surely end up passing by, and I’d recommend popping in to see the stunning architecture inside.
The Museum of Revolution is another impressive building, which offers a world-class history lesson that will give you a deeper understanding of Cuban life and culture.
Normally a cemetery wouldn’t top my to-do list, but the nineteenth century Cementario de Cristobal Colon is one of the most historically significant cemeteries in the world. If you’re a history buff, don’t miss this one.
Last but certainly not least for fans of the famous American novelist, there’s Ernest Hemingway’s House. Known as Finca Vigía by the locals, it is just a quick bus or taxi ride from central Havana.
Sunset Stroll on El Malecón
This five-mile coastal road has an energy like nowhere else in Havana. Take in the sunset here as you steal a glimpse into what life is like for Habaneros.
Whatever you do, do not forget your camera when headed here! El Malecón is at its most beautiful just as the street lights start turning on.
Dinner and a Show at La Parisienne at Hotel Nacional
End your stroll down El Malecón at the Hotel Nacional. The old world charm here is undeniable, and I absolutely loved the show at La Parisienne.
The Cabaret at La Parisienne at Hotel Nacional is an explosion of color! This non-stop show is an unforgettable dance through the history of Cuba.
Sunrise Walk Old Havana
When you only have two days in such a culturally rich place, you have to get up early! But rather than rushing to see all of the top spots, I recommend simply wandering around aimlessly for awhile. Beat the tourists (and most locals) by getting out and about at sunrise.
There are so many winding streets that will take you off the beaten path. Spend some time just taking in the beauty of Old Havana.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, get over to Vedado, Havana’s central business district for a breakfast. The locals’ favorite morning beverage is a frozen coffee, so tack that onto your order, too.
Café Mamainé is a cozy little restaurant that is perfect for sampling authentic Cuban food. The café also features locally produced art, making the eatery a cultural hotspot.
Shop for Rum and Cigars
Whether it’s for yourself or your loved ones back home, rum and cigars are a must-buy when in Cuba! When it comes to rum and cigars, Cubans make them best. So, even if you think you’re not a fan, I’d highly recommend learning a little bit more about the local specialties and giving them a try.
Hit the Beach
When it comes to beaches, Varadero is where tourists go, while Habaneros lounge at Guanabo. The easiest way to get to Guanabo is to grab a taxi from the park at the corner of Agramonte and Misión.
From Guanabo, it’s less than two hours to Varadero. If you’ve got more time to spend in Cuba, it’s worth the trip, but if you’re limited to 48 hours on the island, you probably won’t get around to it.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of sun, get back to your cultural checklist. Again, in my opinion, the Capitol Building, Museum of Revolution, Cementario de Cristobal Colon and Ernest Hemingway’s House are must-sees. Whatever you didn’t get to on day one, try to check out on day two.
Dinner at a Paladar
Paladar is the local name for a privately-owned restaurant. Since most eateries are government-owned, eating at a paladar is one of the best ways to try homemade Cuban food in a family-run spot.
My top picks for paladars are Paladar Los Mercaderes, which has a romantic feel and mouthwateringly good food; El Cocinero, a rooftop-terrace restaurant that serves up great food with a panoramic view; and Ríomar, a lovely waterfront place.
Other than quaint cafés, most of the best places to eat in Havana require reservations, so do plan ahead, especially if you’ll only have time to check out a few places.
Night out at Fabrica De Arte Cubano
This art-gallery-turned-nightclub is the hottest ticket in town. Open Thursday till Sunday, this is where the locals go!
I’d recommend checking it out, but don’t make my mistake.
We arrived there too late and ended up waiting for an hour in line without getting in. Try arriving early in the evening to make sure you’ve got plenty of time to check it out.
Shop my Havana style!
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An effective solution to acne scars, stretch marks and fine lines? Apparently, dreams do come true — this time in the form of Dermapen micro needling. When I heard about its benefits, I knew it was something that I had to explore.
Traveling hasn’t been easy on my skin, and since I’m about to turn 30, I’ve begun to focus more on preventative skin care. While it’s impossible to turn back the clock, there are so many simple treatments that you can do today to minimize and prevent signs of aging.
Looking to reinvigorate your skin’s suppleness? Here’s everything you should know about Dermapen micro needling.
What Does Micro Needling Do?
Dermapen micro needling works by stimulating your body’s natural healing response. Also referred to as medical skin needling or Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), this incredible procedure results in rejuvenated skin.
During a Dermapen micro-needling session, microscopic punctures are made into your skin to get your body to produce a fresh new layer of skin. As you can guess, this simple process is incredibly effective at minimizing the appearance of acne scars, stretch marks, fine lines and wrinkles.
Best of all, Dermapen micro needling has actually been proven to be successful. Since the late 1990s, this technique has been vetted, even by researchers, who have found the treatment to be truly effective.
While rolling needles over your skin might sound a bit crazy, it actually makes a lot of sense. Rather than relying on “miracle” creams to transform your skin with a mysterious blend of chemicals, micro needling uses your skin’s own natural collagen to minimize the appearance of fine lines and signs of aging.
How Dermapen Works
I’m as uncomfortable as the next girl with the idea of having needles in my face, so before we get into the details, let me start by saying that your skin is completely numbed before the process. It definitely eases you into the rest of the treatment!
During the treatment, 13 micro-needles are gently run across your face. The needles are 0.5 to 2 millimeters in length, and the treatments are custom designed to meet your skin’s unique needs at every square inch.
Treating deeper scarring and wrinkles requires longer needles, which is a bit more uncomfortable but definitely not bad compared to some other torturous treatments like waxing.
After the treatment, I find that my skin is sensitive and feels a bit like a bad sunburn, but I can still go back to my normal routine. With that said, there are a few things you should avoid while healing like sunlight and fragrant skincare products.
To help you heal and soothe your skin, you’ll be given a topical cream. Over the course of a few days to 1 week after the treatment, the sensitivity will fade.
The process of skin needling relies on your body’s natural collagen production, so the results appear naturally with time. Generally speaking, I can see a difference after 2-3 weeks.
Where Can I Get Dermapen Micro Needling?
Since moving to Cape Town, I’ve invested in preventative skincare treatments. I’ve found the same treatments cost 2-3x more back home in California. You can get the same medical grade treatments in South Africa for a fraction of the price.
I go to the girls at Dr. Nerina Wilkinson SKIN Clinic. She is an incredibly talented doctor who specializes in non-surgical and surgical procedures like Dermapen micro needling, fillers and medical facials.
The SKIN Clinic has an amazing, all-female expert staff who make the process comfortable and easy. Their affordable prices make long-term treatment plans possible without breaking the bank.
I spent 48 magical hours in Havana with my bestie, and it was a whirlwind adventure. I had been dreaming of going to Cuba for ages, and it was hard to decide what to do with so little time.
From sipping mojitos seaside to salsa dancing the night away, there is just so much to see and do in Cuba’s capital.
Ready to fall in love with this beautiful Caribbean city? Here are my top 15 things to do in Havana.
1. Have a Mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio
If the walls of La Bodeguita del Medio could talk! As the birthplace of the Mojito cocktail, many people (celebrities included) have flocked to the restaurant for almost 80 years now to get a taste.
Definitely, put the historic venue on your Cuba bucket list! It opens at 10:30 a.m., which is a perfect excuse to start your day with a boozy brunch.
2. Rent a Classic Car for a Spin Around Havana
Rumor has it that there are a whopping 10,000 classic cars on the streets of Havana! Not only do they make for some incredible shots for Instagram, but they are also the perfect way to tour the city.
You can swing by any of the car-rental agencies right outside of the cruise terminal and do a tour for 40-50 CUC ($40-50 USD) per hour. Check out the bubble-gum pink wheels that I rented for the day!
3. Eat at La Guarida
La Guarida is a local cultural icon. With striking décor and delicious Cuban cuisine, this place is a must-see in Havana.
Be sure to get a reservation (you can book via a Skype call or through their website), and plan for some time to linger in this quaint spot. They open at noon, so it’s a good lunch or dinner pick.
4. Eat at a Paladar
Going to a paladar is a one-of-a-kind experience. In a country full of government-owned restaurants, these little culinary gems are family-owned establishments serving up authentic homemade Cuban food.
O’Reilly 304 in Old Havana is popular among locals, while Nao Bar is the perfect place for a traditional Habanero experience. Another cool paladar experience, Cafe Laurent, is located in an apartment building.
5. Try a Cuban Sandwich
First created by Cuban immigrant workers in Florida, the Cuban sandwich is seriously so delicious! With ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard tucked between slices Cuban bread, the sandwich has become an international favorite.
6. Stroll the Colorful Streets of Old Havana
It was love at first sight when I hit the streets of Old Havana. This UNESCO-honored Old Town is a charming district lined with pastel houses.
Hire a bicycle taxi or just hit the streets on foot. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and a camera to take in the iconic city.
7. Visit the Museum of the Revolution
Whether you are a history buff or are struggling to remember Cuban facts you learned in high school, the Museum of the Revolution is an essential stop. It will offer you a glimpse into Cuban history and give you greater meaning behind how Havana developed over the years.
8. Grab a Daiquiri at La Floridita
You can’t go to Havana without swinging into the birthplace of the daiquiri! As Hemmingway’s favorite haunt, La Floridita is a quintessential Cuban experience.
9. Stroll El Malecón
For a perfect view of the Havana seaside, come to El Malecón. Stroll down this five-mile road and take it all in. From fishermen working at sea to striking Spanish-colonial architecture, this strip is teeming with life and energy.
10. Shop for Rum and Cigars
When in Rome! Love them or hate them, nobody does rum and cigars better than Cuba. Even if you’re not a fan, these make for the perfect souvenirs.
11. Visit the Capitol Building
This striking building is home to the third largest indoor statue in the world, La Estatua de la República, and some truly remarkable architecture.
12. Watch the Cabaret at La Parisienne at Hotel Nacional
Another nightlife hotspot, Fabrica de Arte Cubano is an experience you can’t miss. Get there early so as not to miss the action.
Open Thursday to Sunday from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., locals love this art-gallery-turned-club. We waited in line for an hour but never got in, so be sure to accommodate enough time for the line when heading there.
14. Visit Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón
Established in the late nineteenth century, The Colon Cemetery, or in the Spanish language Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, is one of the most historically significant cemeteries in the world. If you’re a history aficionado, it’s definitely worthy of a visit.
Harajuku is Hello Kitty heaven! Pink, sparkles and sprinkles EVERYWHERE.
We went shopping, found ourselves slightly confused by a photo booth, and had a very colorful meal at the Kawaii Monster Cafe. It’s the ultimate neighborhood if you’re planning a trip with your girlfriends!
Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. That income goes to supporting this website and keeping it free for you and everyone else! As always, ideas and opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own
For any number of reasons, it may be necessary to switch from an insulin pump to an insulin pen while traveling. Whether you don’t want the inconvenience of pump sites or your trusty insulin pump breaks down, it’s always good to have a plan B.
To help, I’ve put together a guide on switching from insulin pumps to insulin pens while traveling.
When to Switch from an Insulin Pump to an Insulin Pen
Below are a number of scenarios, which some of you may not have considered, where you may need to make a temporary switch from an insulin pump to a pen:
You’re spending the day submerged in water engaged in surfing, scuba diving, swimming, etc.
Your insulin pump has been stolen or misplaced.
Your insulin pump has died, and your replacement won’t arrive for a couple of days.
Your insulin pump has died in the heat or cold, and you need to use pens temporarily.
You’ve been admitted to the hospital, and the team won’t let you operate your pump.
There is one other important reason why you might want to make a temporary switch: you simply need a break.
Life with an insulin pump can feel demanding (and a bit frustrating, at times) because you are attached to something 24/7. There is absolutely no issue with wanting a break for a day or two!
Don’t feel like you can’t part with the pump for a bit. I’ve taken pump holidays before, and if anything, it makes me appreciate my insulin pump even more.
How to Make the Switch from Insulin Pens to Injections
The following advice is based on my own experience, and it may not work exactly the same way for you. With that said, it’s always best to seek advice from your doctor before you decide to take a break from your insulin pump.
Switch Duration: Less Than 24 Hours
Every 3 – 4 hours, give yourself short-acting insulin.:
Get the insulin you need for eating carbs and add correction doses as necessary. Remember that if you are doing any physical exercise, your blood sugar will decrease, so be mindful of your doses.
When you’ve finished your activity, you can return to your insulin pump.
To keep from putting yourself at risk of a hypo, just remember that you need to wait 3-4 hours between injections, as you need to ensure all the insulin from the previous injection has left your body.
Switch Duration: 24 Hours
This is perfect for all those situations where an insulin pump is an inconvenience, such as on days spent at the beach, at a waterpark and so on.
For a one-day switch, you will typically only use your fast-acting insulin pen: Humalog. You will need to monitor your blood sugar much more frequently and give yourself fast-acting insulin every 3-4 hours (depending on the length of your insulin).
For example, if you’re surfing from 9 a.m. until sunset, don’t give yourself any background insulin, such as Lantus or Levemir. These can last up to 24 hours, which means you will need to wait until the background insulin has completely left your system before you can return to using an insulin pump.
Otherwise, you will have two sets of insulin in your body (your long-lasting insulin shot and your basal-rate insulin), which could put you at serious risk of multiple hypos.
Switch Duration: Greater Than 24 Hours
Regardless of why you switch for longer than 24 hours, your body is going to need long-lasting insulin and fast-acting insulin. There are two main ways to make this switch, with one being less tiresome than the other.
Option 1: Give yourself fast-acting insulin every 3-4 hours overnight, as you would during the day. The problem with this technique is that you need to wake up every 3-4 hours during the night, which isn’t exactly convenient.
However, if you don’t, your body will have absolutely no insulin going into it, which will put you at a high risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). So, it’s vital you only move forward with this option if you think you can commit to waking up. Of course, setting alarms will help you greatly!
Option 2: Give yourself a background dose of insulin in the form of either Lantus or Levemir and continue to bolus with your fast-acting insulin for meals and correction doses. This is the easier option, but your final dose of Lantus may be slightly different than your “total basal rate” that you take from your insulin pump.
Your insulin pump has been tailored to your body’s functions and is finely tuned, whereas Lantus isn’t as sensitive your body’s needs. So naturally, you may find you run slightly higher.
For a short-term period this isn’t much of an issue. You’ll know it’s working if your diet is low in carbs. If you’re running high, and you haven’t eaten any carbohydrates, then your dose likely isn’t high enough.
Be sure to take note of how your body has reacted for any further pump holidays you wish to take.
Chat with your doctor about the estimated dose of long-acting insulin you should take on a switch. They will know about your diabetic history, including details of the time before you started using a pump, so they’ll be able to suggest the best dosage for your needs.
If you want to put your insulin pump back on early after a long-term switch, you should set your basal rate to 0.0 units per hour until all the Lantus or long-lasting insulin has left your body. You can bolus as necessary with your fast-acting insulin from your insulin pump.
Monitor your numbers much more frequently than you normally would. It will be easier if you have a Freestyle Libre (which is now available in the USA!) or CGM system in place. However, these aren’t available for everyone, so more finger pricks will do the job just as well!
Remember that your insulin requirements may change if you are engaging in physical activity, or if you’re in a warm or cold climate.
Test for ketones with ketone sticks, which you should always bring with you on a trip. When your blood sugar is over the 270 mark (15 in UK numbers), get ketone testing.
Whether you intend on making a switch from an insulin pump to injections or not, it’s always a good idea to carry insulin pens with you when traveling. There are so many reasons that your pump could simply die. Especially if the climate conditions of the country you are visiting are extreme.
It’s important to know what to do and how to make the switch back to insulin pens when these situations arise. I hope you’ve found this information useful!
I’d love to know: have you ever made a short or long-term switch from an insulin pump to injections when traveling? Comment below and let me know!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and all my words are based on my own personal travel experience and advice. I don’t take any responsibility for any problems or issues with type one diabetes. Please contact your diabetic nurse or doctor before embarking on a new journey! Happy travels!
Isla Holbox is located north of the Yucatán Peninsula between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Isla Holbox is part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve.
It’s a tropical paradise complete with friendly locals, flamingos on the beach, dirt roads, laid-back beach bars, and incredible natural beauty. While there, I shot daily vlogs (something I don’t normally do!) to share just how beautiful this destination really is.
Check out how I documented my time traveling to Isla Holbox!
Day 1 — Getting to Isla Holbox
Traveling to Isla Holbox (My First Ever Vlog!) - YouTube
There are a few different ways to get to this little island off the coast of Mexico! You can drive or take a bus to Chiquila, and then hop onto a ferry. The ferry trip only takes about thirty minutes.
Another option is to take an air taxi from Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, or Cancún.
Day 2 — Exploring Isla Holbox with the Locals
Discovering Isla Holbox (VLOG #2) - YouTube
On our second day, we wanted to get acquainted with the island so we rented some bikes and explored! The beaches are so incredibly beautiful and the sun is HOT.
We chowed down on fresh ceviche while sipping on some refreshing cold cervezas.
Day 3 — Searching for Whale Sharks in Isla Holbox
Searching for Whale Sharks in Isla Holbox (VLOG #3) - YouTube
On day three, we got up super early and took a boat out to see if we could find some whale sharks! It was the very first day of whale shark season, so chances of seeing them was slim, but the trip was awesome regardless. We had a ton of fun snorkeling and exploring by boat.
At night, we found an amazing little restaurant right on the beach, then explored the street food scene. After a churro, we tucked in early for the night!
Day 4 — Last Day in Isla Holbox
Hammocks in Isla Holbox (VLOG #4) - YouTube
On our last morning in Isla Holbox, we did a little shopping, a little brunching and a little swinging on some hammocks on the beach. It was the perfect end to a perfect short trip!
We caught our ferry and bus back to Playa del Carmen where we hit the town and met up with some old friends for one last fiesta.