Take Your Perks with Type 1


Having type 1 diabetes has many downsides, or “lows,” if you will. It is often difficult to look on the bright side of any illness. However, there are certain instances where we get treated to some unexpected daily life “perks!” Let’s take a look at some scenarios where people with type 1 diabetes (T1Ds) get the sweeter end of the deal.

Food/Drink Smuggling

Pretty much nobody can tell us not to have food or juice with us. A quick flash of a medical bracelet, prescription or doctor’s note can sidestep most rules about not bringing food or drinks into a venue! Places where T1Ds are allowed to bring food whereas others are not can include but are not limited to:

  • Movie theaters
  • Concert venues / Theatre venues
  • Classrooms
  • Business meetings
  • Retail stores

School Advantages

  • Not every student gets to head out of class early before lunch, but in most elementary, middle and high schools, that’s exactly what kids with type 1 can do before heading to the nurse’s office to take insulin, check blood glucose (BG) levels, etc!
  • Teachers frown upon technology in the classroom, but T1Ds are always allowed to keep their technology on their person (pumps, meters, etc…). Even cell phones are permitted if it is connected to your continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
  • As mentioned before, food and drink are always allowed in case of a low.
  • Registering for accommodations in college can afford you such perks as early registration for classes, preferred room location or rooms with refrigerators and other benefits to make life easier.
  • For US residents, Diabetes Scholars—a program of Beyond Type 1—awards scholarships to high school seniors who have high academic performance, are actively involved in their community and the diabetes community. Diabetes Scholars scholarships are not based on financial need and applications open in January and are due in April each year.
  • For Canadian residents, the Diabetes Hope Scholarship provides education grants to students living with diabetes.
  • Other scholarships for US and Canadian incoming freshman, typically based upon geography, can be found here.

Travel Privileges

  • An unlimited amount of T1D supplies of any kind are permitted when traveling.
  • While most people are not allowed to bring liquids through security screening, TSA (USA and CAN) allows those with type 1 diabetes to bring juice and any other food or drink to treat a low blood sugar.
  • T1Ds can request a special screening/pat-down if they wish, as to avoid the potential of the body scanner tampering with pump or CGM function.
  • Depending on the airline’s rules and regulations, priority boarding may be granted to people with diabetes, especially if they are experiencing any kind of complication. 
  • Many national parks allow those who identify with a “disability” can enter for free. You can even apply for an Access Pass in the US for free lifetime admittance! (GET YOURS HERE).

Utility discounts

  • Certain companies provide discounts on energy bills to those with qualifying medical needs and medical devices. Be sure to check with your company.

Front of the line

  • Depending on the venue, T1Ds can often move to the front of the line, or a separate “medical” screening line at concerts or events.
  • At certain amusement parks such as Disneyland and Dollywood, people with type 1 can take advantage of the Disability Access Service (DAS) card, which could allow front of the line access if experiencing symptoms such as a low blood sugar.

Read #DiabeticsAtDisney by Alexi Melvin.

WRITTEN BY Alexi Melvin, POSTED 11/15/16, UPDATED 06/06/23

Alexi Melvin is a freelance journalist, fiction writer and screenwriter based in both NYC and the Bay Area. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003, and has been passionate about raising awareness ever since. Her other passions include film, literature, animals and spiritual healing. Instagram: @alexi_rm