Your Type 1 Guide to Music Festivals
Summer is here—and along with the sun, these next few months bring about music festival season. Whether it be Coachella, SXSW, Warped Tour, Austin City Limits, Firefly, Lollapalooza, or many others, music enthusiasts count down the days until they can venture out to be a part of their favorite fest(s). As with any event that includes being exposed to the elements, large crowds and lots of physical exertion, those with type 1 diabetes should always be prepared and take extra precautions before the fun begins!
Here are some important things to remember before attending and during music festivals.
Most music festivals are multi-day events, so especially if you plan on staying overnight, pack more supplies than you think you need, such as:
- Pump supplies (insulin, infusion sets, syringes)
- Backup syringes/needles
- An extra blood glucose (BG) meter
- Test strips
- Continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensors
- Adhesive tape or spray
- Alcohol wipes / sanitizer
- Insulin pens (if you are on multiple daily injections, OR in case of a pump malfunction!)
- Backup insulin
- Sugary snacks
- High protein snacks
- Emergency glucagon (nasal or auto-injectable kit)
- Freezer packs (to keep insulin cool)
Never shy away from letting others know that you are a person with type 1 diabetes.
Locate the medical line
Most festivals will have an entirely separate screening line for people with medical conditions. This will expedite your entry and avoid any confusion with your supplies. If for some reason there is not a separate line to get in, immediately inform the security guards that you are a person with diabetes and what supplies you’re carrying.
Locate the medical tent
All festivals will have a Medical/First Aid tent. Take note of where it is ASAP.
It is a good idea to introduce yourself to the medical staff, and alert them of your medical condition and needs.
Tell your friends
It always helps to have a buddy or family member with you that is familiar with your situation, but if you’re traveling with a fairly new acquaintance or meet new friends at the festival, give them a heads up of what to do in case of emergency.
Wear your medical alert gear
Bring a medical alert bracelet and/or ID tag and keep them on you at all times so that you can be properly identified and treated in a worst-case-scenario.
Effects of Heat
Most of these festivals will be in the heat! Severe temperatures can affect blood sugar levels, so keep an eye on your CGM, and/or test your blood sugar more often than you usually would. If this means breaking away from the crowd at times, so be it.
Insulin should also be kept out of extreme heat, so be prepared with a freezer pack or cooling wallet. Also, the staff at the medical tent can often store it for you if needed.
Be conscious of your CGM and Pump sites! Sweating can occasionally make the adhesive on your sensors and sites less affective. Be ready with your extra supplies, apply adhesive tape, or opt for multiple daily injections (MDI).
Eating & Hydrating
Hydrate as much as possible! Be sure to consistently drink water to avoid dehydration.
Keep sugary snacks or juice on you in case of hypoglycemia, as well as a high protein snack to balance out blood sugar levels and keep your energy up.
Remember to eat substantial meals. Stick as closely to your normal eating habits as possible for the sake of your BG levels. Eat meals that you are familiar with in relation to how it affects your blood sugar, and how much insulin to take.
Alcohol & Marijuana
Let’s face it, alcohol and marijuana are an unavoidable aspect of music festivals. Whether you partake in either substance is a judgment call, but will require you to keep an even closer eye on your blood sugar levels.
Explore more in depth the riskier sides of the music festival experience from Zach Toth on Travelbetics.
Do we as people with type 1 diabetes have to think more, pack more and prepare more for events like these? Absolutely. But it is all for the sake of enjoying ourselves as much as possible! Have a blast!
Read Coachella + T1D + Pump Malfunction by Claire Nordstrom and Warped Tour + T1D: Conquering Diabetes to Do What I Love by Emily Tantuccio.