Travel in India with type 1 diabetes – cooling insulin with Frio wallets

In late July 2011, exactly 7 months after Amy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we backpacked around India for four weeks, in a trip we called Monsoon Meandering.

This is post 6 in the series about that trip and its planning and how type 1 diabetes played a part.

The first part of it has been reproduced from the Monsoon Meandering blog article I wrote.

From my original article…

Some gadgets are purchased purely out of desire, others are desirable but serve a purpose and others are bought simply because a problem needs to be resolved. Yesterday’s purchase of Frio wallets was definitely made to solve a problem, but I like the geekiness value it has.

So what is a Frio wallet?

A Frio wallet is a small wallet with an special inner wallet which contains crystals that by using evaporative cooling will keep insulin at the correct temperature once they’ve been activated.

How do you use it?

It’s so simple: just immerse it in cold water for up to 12 minutes (first time use, depending on the wallet size you’ve purchased) and wait until the crystals have turned into a gel, at which point they swell considerably. Every two days or so you’ll need to repeat the process and you can keep doing that for up to 28 days. After 28 days of solid use just let the wallet dry out and then it’ll be ready for your next trip.
After activation the inner wallet is dried and then placed in a special outer wallet which stays dry, so can be placed in your bag, suitcase or pocket as required.

How much do they cost?

Yesterday we purchased a Large Wallet and an Extra Large Wallet for £15.50 and £19.00 respectively. We only bought two as we wish to separate the insulin / pens just in case a bag gets lost or stolen. So, £34.40 for a lot of peace of mind, that’s a small price to pay.
We bought ours from Nomad Travel Shop in Southampton who had loads in stock but people in the UK can also buy them direct from Frio UK.

Post trip analsyis

Do they work?

Yes, they do.
We found that one of our wallets worked better than the other but both dropped the temperature to stay within the safe range for insulin.
We found that they worked less well in the hotels that had air-conditioning which is not surprising as they work by evaporation. Luckily those hotels also had a fridge which we used in preference whilst in the room.
As we went in monsoon season I wonder whether the Frio wallets would be even more effective during a dry season as evaporation will occur more easily.

Which size was best

Once the water has expanded the gel walls of the wallets the space inside decreases immensely and things can be difficult to fit inside. For that reason I wish we’d bought two extra large wallets.
But we fitted a lot into each one: two Novo pens, two spare Novorapid (bolus) insulin and one glucagon kit.

Next up: flying, medical letters and adjusting basal

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One Response to Travel in India with type 1 diabetes – cooling insulin with Frio wallets

  1. steph says:

    Thanks for the info, so helpful! Do you think the packs could be used for 3+ months?

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