“Even if we are 1,000 miles away, I want people to feel at home.” These are the words by my close friend Geneva who joined a pact of explorers who prove that we can go anywhere in the world with type 1 diabetes. She answered a call for writers to form the travel blog Diabetes Abroad. I want to share with you why this travel blog started and how adding 1 photo can change our global community.
My name is Erik and I am a New York based global traveler and endurance athlete. The first job I had out of college was designing a national park along the border of Ethiopia and South Sudan. I was part of a team responsible for tracking the migrations of animals like the White Ear kob, conducting on the ground map surveys, and figuring out how to create an economy based on sustainable products. In short, I like a good adventure.
Many people at home expressed their fear about me going to Ethiopia. At the time, the Ebola virus was breaking out across Africa and many Americans feared that I may be vulnerable to the disease. To put this concern into perspective, people in New York came in closer contact with Ebola when it entered Texas (and New York City) than anyone in my home town of Gambella.
Luckily, I had my parents to break out of the first comfort zone that typically uses fear to create a lack of action. They gave me the thumbs up to head off into the Horn of Africa, one of the most remote regions in the world.
The added barrier of the diabetic traveler is that one must break out of the “double comfort zone.” This is the idea that we must overcome two levels of obstacles before charging into the unknown. The first comfort zone is one that everyone experiences – leaving a job behind, saying goodbye to family, having a change in comforts, weighing the risks of potential tropical diseases.
People with diabetes must overcome the second obstacle – the “diabetic” comfort zone. This is a second set of questions that arise from living with a disease that requires around-the-clock medical attention. The additional set of fears are serious with concerns about passing out, medicine getting spoiled or stolen, technological equipment breaking, how the heat can escalate any situation, how to adjust to new foods, and the list goes on.
The reason Diabetes Abroad began is to share travel stories and tips that prove we can go anywhere in the world. One of our first goals is to collect 1 photo from every country and state in the world. Every image is proof that we can go anywhere. The fears and concerns are real and must be addressed. Yet, they are not obstacles we cannot overcome.
Our community has added photos from the base of mount Everest with a helicopter kicking up dust, kayaking in the fjords of New Zealand, representing team USA in Argentina, and posing in front of castles in London. These photos are the beginning to a series of questions and curiosities on how to break out into the unknown.
You can add your story and voice to our travel map in less than 5 minutes. Pick a photo from your hometown, a recent vacation, or trip your family went on. Think of a short caption and you’re ready. Let’s show everyone that our community is everywhere.
Because even if you are 1,000 miles away, we want you to feel at home.
Join Diabetes Abroad in making the largest travel map for type 1 diabetic community by visiting this link: www.diabetesabroad.com/travel-map