Transportation of needle medicines when travelling.

Some readers may be concerned about traveling to areas of the world with more extreme climates, or substandard infrastructure and successfully manage the temperature requirements for needle administered medications. People who use these medicines (as does this writer) are aware of the need to keep the syringes within a certain temperature range.

I have been a constant traveler and have been lucky to explore many exciting corners of this planet. I was prompted to write this small article following a recent ten days exploration of Cuba (before KFC) tagged on to a visit to Canada. It is easy to access Cuba by air from Canada. The purpose of this writing is not a travelogue on Canada or Cuba itself, but I will say that Cuba is one of the highlights of my rather expansive travel experiences. I felt compelled to visit before the real stampede of Americans happens.

Cuba is a hot and humid country with a crumbled infrastructure. Managing my needles required a bit of planning. The freezer compartment of any room fridges were not cold enough to refreeze the sides of my, ‘Fridge To Go’ travel pack. This situation cannot be said to only exist in Cuba, it is the same in most of China for example.

However, upon arrival, when I asked for my travel pack to placed in a hotel bar ice freezer, this was also not cold enough – in China this works. It could not cope with the Cuban heat due to the freezers inherent ‘worn out state’, so, back to basics again. I could never figure out why the freezer did not freeze my pack, but the bar staff could give me a bag of ice! I had brought along some additional freezer jell packs and whilst not solid they were cold. I obtained a used juice bladder from the bar as this was padded and therefore increased insulation. Add that old reliable standby, newspaper, and one can assemble a rather good package for travel.

Apart from Havana hotels at the beginning and end, we were self-driving and staying in local homestays – best type of accommodation in Cuba at present. Even though the rental car had air conditioning, it only really cooled the front seats and did struggle a bit!

The package, as shown in the images, worked well.

Air Travel: Acceptance of fridge packs by airlines is generally very good, but in recent years I have experienced two airlines that refused to place my travel pack in the onboard fridge for the duration of the journey. I have been carrying needles for some eight years now and struck my first refusal last September on route to Beijing, then with the recent flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles.  The United Airlines steward said, “No Nth American airline would do this as we can’t take any responsibility. If it was lost you might sue us” – how American!! He got me some ice in plastic bags and I had to manage the pack using this, plus replacements, as it was a 16-hour flight!! Once we boarded Canadian-based airlines, this was not an issue.

You can travel to more exotic destinations where the general infrastructure may not work well enough, you just have to organise a bit of extra engineering!

Last year I took one of our train journeys from Beijing to Moscow and used the onboard carriage attendant’s fridge. I carry letters in the relevant languages explaining what I have. They then nod their heads, ‘Da, nyet problem’. They are quite used to diabetics carrying such needles.