Review: 4AllFamily Insulin Cooler

4AllFamily has invented an impressive cooler with multiple cooling options, perfect for travel in the summer. Whether you are walking around exploring a new city or relaxing beachside on a tropical island, this cooling system is sure to keep all your insulin at the proper temperature. Traveling has become more manageable and less stressful thanks to 4AllFamily’s diabetic travel companion.

Who Are They?

The founders of 4AllFamily were originally inspired by a vacation disaster: a friend with type 1 diabetes lost his entire insulin stash when it was spoiled by hot temperatures. The company, based in Albania, now builds high-capacity coolers designed to withstand extreme summer conditions.

4AllFamily is involved with the diabetes online community and employs people living with diabetes. They seem to have a good practical understanding of the needs of people with diabetes. You can find them on Instagram: @4allfamily_shop.

What Is the 4AllFamily Insulin Cooler and How Does It Work?

This case has two different methods of keeping medicine cool. It’s both a traditional thermos and a miniature refrigerator. These two functions can be used separately or in combination.

The cooler comes with a biogel coldpack that you freeze ahead of time and slip into the canister. As a thermos with a properly chilled biogel pack, it can keep your insulin in the safe range for about two full days in hot weather.

Slip off the traditional cap and add the refrigeration cap to turn the unit into a tiny portable fridge. The refrigeration cap comes with a USB charger; it doesn’t have a battery and needs to be plugged in to work, but it can keep insulin cool indefinitely (although the manufacturer doesn’t recommend running it for more than four days in a row).


Insulin cooler

Image credit: 4AllFamily

With a 3.3″ diameter and a volume of 900ML, the cooler has plenty of space: you can usually insert 6-8 vials of insulin or insulin pens, depending on the precise prescriptions you’re carrying. The company also sells vial cases to prevent the glass containers from clanging against each other.

Here are the details on how long the unit can keep insulin at a safe temperature using the various combinations of features:

1. Best method: Combined biogel bottle and cooling cup lid

You get the best performance when combining both functions. Here are the lab-tested results:

At 104°F constant outside temperature: maintains temperature in the range 36-45°F for 50 hours and 36-79°F for 70 hours.

At 95°F constant outside temperature:  maintains temperature in the range 36-46 °F for 52 hours, and 36-79°F for 73 hours.

At 86°F constant outside temperature: maintains temperature in the range 36-45°F for 55 hours  and 36-79°F for more than 4 days.

2. Biogel only

At 104°F constant outside temperature: maintains temperature in the range 36-45°F for 30 and 36-79°F for 46 hours.

At 95°F constant outside temperature:  maintains temperature in the range 36-46°F for 32 hours and 36-79°F for 50 hours.

At 86°F constant outside temperature: maintains temperature in the range 36-45°F for 34 hours and 36-79°F for 52 hours.

3. Cooling lid only

If you have a source of electricity, you can keep insulin cool indefinitely, although it’s not as effective in extreme hot weather as when used in combination with the cooling pack:

At 86°F constant outside temperature: maintains temperature range 36-79°F.

Where Can I Purchase It and How Much Does It Cost?

You can purchase this cooler along with insulin vial protectors directly from the 4AllFamily website.

As of this writing, the cost is $119.99.

It’s worth noting that this cooler may also be useful for more than just insulin: growth hormones, arthritis medication, and many other medications that may require refrigeration.

My Review

I absolutely love this innovative insulin cooling system. With a few different options for use, this cooler is something that I will be sure to use for a long time to come. Going on vacation can be stressful and the last thing we want to worry about is our medication and insulin. Also, knowing this product is TSA approved can help make travel easier. I can also rest assured that my insulin will remain cool, allowing me to enjoy my time. And hey, this cooler can also keep my cocktail nice and cold while I relax poolside.


Flying with Diabetes During COVID-19

While not currently especially recommended for people living with diabetes, air travel is sometimes necessary, and people with diabetes will inevitably have to fly from time to time (for work, a funeral, or a family or medical emergency) during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It is helpful to know the proper precautions to take to make sure that you stay happy and healthy in the friendly skies, should you have to use air travel in the coming months.

The COVID-19 virus actually does not spread as easily on flights as originally reported, because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes. However, social distancing can be difficult on crowded flights (some airlines are promising to keep middle seats open to help with this), and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of being exposed to the virus. Air travel however does require spending time in security lines and airport terminals, bringing you closer to other people and having to frequently touch common surfaces. These precautions can help you stay healthier for your trip.

Precautions to Take

  • Wear a cloth mask at all times while at the airport and on a flight (removing your mask to eat a low snack is always okay).
  • Wash your hands often (this is especially important after going through airport security, using the bathroom, and before eating).
  • Carry and use hand sanitizer liberally. As part of their “Stay Healthy. Stay Secure” campaign, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is temporarily suspending their 3-1-1 rules around liquids; TSA is allowing one oversized liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags (all other liquids, gels, and aerosols brought to a checkpoint continue to be limited to 3.4 ounces/100 milliliters carried in a one quart-size bag).
  • Physically distance yourself from other travelers as much as possible. Staying 6 feet away from anyone not in your party is ideal. Paloma Beamer, associate professor of environmental health sciences at University of Arizona, says, “Six feet 1 inch doesn’t make you safe, neither does 5 feet 10 inches make you not safe; it’s kind of a range. Some people are going to release a lot more virus when they’re sick than other people,” she said.
  • Bring disinfectant wipes and use them to wipe down the storage trays during airport security, as well as wiping down your seat, armrests, and tray table once you board the plane.
disinfectant airport

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Helpful Tips

  • As a person living with diabetes, you are allowed to pre-board all flights (COVID-19 or not). Use this to your advantage, to give yourself extra time to organize and have easy access to any low snacks and pump/CGM supplies you may need. Check out our other tips for flying here.
  • In addition to wearing a cloth mask, it may be helpful to wear an N95 or KN95 mask underneath that, to make sure the air you’re breathing is more filtered. Additionally, face shields are helpful to prevent the virus from jumping into your eye, and catching the disease that way.
  • Aim for a window seat, near the front of the plane, if you’re able to choose your seat when flying. “Because people are walking by you in the aisle seat, it’s shown in outbreaks of norovirus that people are more likely to get ill if they sit on the aisle because people are touching surfaces and walking by,” Charles Gerba, a professor of virology at the University of Arizona said. “So based on norovirus outbreaks, the window seat is better.”
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about adjusting your medication doses for travel to stay in range as much as possible. Also, aim to eat and drink before arriving at the airport, so you can keep your mask on as much as possible.
  • If possible, avoid public transportation or ride shares to and from the airport. Opt to have family drop you off, or pay to park at the airport to avoid more crowds and close proximity to strangers.
  • Book a morning flight. Aircrafts are now being thoroughly cleaned every night, so aiming for a morning flight is a better guarantee that your vessel is free of viral particles than a flight going out later in the day.
  • Don’t make friends with your seatmate: talking can spread viral particles in the air. The fewer people you talk to, the better. Bring a book, podcast, music, or get some shut eye instead.
  • Don’t panic! By taking these necessary precautions, you can greatly reduce your risk of being exposed to the virus, and there is no need to panic.

If you plan to or need to travel by air, it’s best to check your state’s travel advisories as well as the CDC’s travel recommendations by country to assess your risk. After traveling, make sure to quarantine for at least 14 days to minimize spreading the virus to others (you may be asymptomatic but have the virus), or get tested if able.

By following these guidelines and the CDC’s precautions, you can stay healthy and safe should you need to travel during this time.


Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes: India

Dr. Jody Stanislaw has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) for 40 years this June and is on an inspiring mission to inspire T1Ds everywhere that living a healthy and adventurous life with T1D is 100% possible. She’s been traveling the world for the past 6 months and this month she’s in India.

Check out this video and learn her dosing recommendations for when eating high carb, due to all the rice served in India.


On Falling in Love and Climbing Mountains with Diabetes

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Siobhan Casey

The Catalyst

“What if you got ill, what would you do then? Who would you call? How would you get home? Why don’t you start with a smaller trip?”

While my counselor posed reasonable questions, my answers convinced me, after twelve years of self-doubt and physical struggle that no, my identity was not “Type 1 Diabetic” or “Thirty-Two Year Old, Unmarried Woman.” Instead it was introspective adventurer, writer, childcare provider, and admirer of all things beautiful.

So that Friday, I compiled well-marked maps and packed my bags for the next five days. They overflowed with insulin pens, needle tops, cliff bars, glucagon pens, bags of Swedish Fish, bottled water, continuous glucose meters, glucose gel, old fashioned glucose meters, test strips, a hiking bag… As most traveling type 1s know, the list is far too long to enumerate. But I woke up in the spring of 2019 with the desire not just to survive and be helpful to others, but to head south and climb a great height. My destination: the Blue Ridge Mountains. This was no impulse. No, this was a conviction.

The Journey Begins

My palms were sweating as I set out on the scenic route, taking back roads in lieu of the more efficient highways. As with any good trip, nothing went quite as planned. For one thing, I got lost on my second day in Virginia, and my phone picked up no bars. But as soon as I found my way to a safe trail, I felt at home among the bugs and canopies of trees. Truthfully, I felt much less alone, in solitude and cloaked in Shenandoah National Park’s shades of blue, than I did among most people.

Siobhan Casey

Image source: Beyond Type 1

After meandering through and taking many breaks to eat the glucose and lunch I had packed, I found my way back to the main road. I stopped at each overlook to spread my arms and become a part of the staggering landscape. When I arrived back home, something small but essential shifted inside of me. I felt different, lighter, and more confident. I began to take my bike on longer, solo trips through the park. And I began to entertain the idea that my next trip would be far better with a companion. But I hesitated because my romantic relationships over the past decade had been fraught with oversharing or hiding how much I struggled with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Things changed on a rainy spring evening. I decided to meet Roy mostly because he seemed like he knew something I didn’t, smiling and sipping out of a coconut in the photo in his dating profile. On the phone, we both liked to think and laugh in equal amounts and we loved the same Indie band and the same eccentric meditation guru. When I stepped through the door of the bar, I caught sight of him before he saw me. His dark hair fell to one side of his thoughtful face and unlike most people sitting on their own, he wasn’t scrolling through his phone but looking at the world around him. We hit it off, and in typical fashion, I didn’t trust it one bit.

The Rare Type

For one thing, he seemed like an impossible burger of a person! He was completing a fellowship in Cardiology and had very little ego. He worked long hours caring for patients in heart failure but rarely became exasperated. He played music, could write like a boss, and genuinely appreciated my varied pursuits of art and childcare. He was honest without being hurtful. I didn’t trust how beautiful this could become and so by the end of the first month of dating, I compiled mental notes of any small signs that he couldn’t “handle” my diabetes. It was a difficult task because he never once judged how I managed my numbers. Instead, he wondered aloud how I functioned on so little sleep.

By that August, he acknowledged that type 1 diabetes was nowhere nearly as straightforward to manage as he had previously thought. But he remained undeterred, and we took a week-long trip to the west coast, traveling between San Francisco and Monterey, stopping in solitude and solidarity to watch the Pacific roll in between coves and cliffs along Big Sur. He often said, “I don’t think of you as a sick person, you know…” and this assertion aligned with my own stubborn belief that in spite of the relentless nature of type 1, I could do so much with my life. As it turned out, I woke each day before he did, more than ready to take on Highway 101 and hike the heights of Pfieffer State Park, the trip I had always dreamed of making.

As type 1s, most of us wax grateful for strangers who help when we are having a low sugar in a public place. But in a relationship, what counts is not the fact that someone brings you juice. It’s that they do it, as Roy still does, at five in the morning three days in a row without any outward irritation. And that they genuinely believe you can do most things for yourself. They treat you as strong as you actually are inside but understand when you are worn down and could use a hand. Looking back, the first month together was a mountain of growing pains for me, of learning that, yes, this person has existed in the world this whole time and even if my pancreas is defunct, I am not. This love has been both as attainable and as rare as climbing the side of the Blue Ridge mountains with insulin on ice in my backpack before heading home – the journey never easy but always good.


Traveling Abroad with Diabetes: Have Your Dolce and Eat It Too!

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Maria Horner

Maria shares her experiences and strategies for managing blood sugar levels while studying abroad

Like many young adults, I love to travel and will take any excuse to do so. Going into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad; the moment I learned about my university’s semester program at their Rome campus, I was ready to go. However, traveling with diabetes isn’t always easy. The longer the trip, the more complicated it can be, and especially a trip to Italy, a country known for all of its carbohydrates!

What’s someone with diabetes to do about managing their diabetes while living in Italy?

Preparation is key!

One of the most important things I did to ensure my trip went well was put a lot of time into preparation. This means figuring out the quantity of diabetes supplies you’ll need, ordering them in advance, and finding space to pack it all. On my blog, I created a handy spreadsheet that helps you calculate exactly how much of each item you’ll need. You should start refilling your prescriptions as frequently as possible months before you travel, to make sure you stockpile enough supplies to last the whole trip. When I was preparing to go to Italy, my insurance only allowed me to order three months of supplies at one time, so I had to wait a few weeks before refilling my prescription. If you’re short on time, ask your healthcare professional if they can help you order extra supplies.

Preparation also means making back-up plans in case anything goes wrong, like talking through solutions to possible challenges. I have a great team of people that support me at home, including my parents, friends, and healthcare professionals, so before I left, I made sure I had several ways to contact them while abroad. Once I arrived in Rome, my host family, my friends, and the staff at my school became the people who could help me if I needed assistance.

Here are some things to talk about with your support team before you travel:

  • If I run out of a diabetes supply, what will I do? Can I get this supply abroad? Is having it shipped to me an option, considering what can be sent through the mail, what is allowed through customs, and the reliability of the mail system?
  • If I need to see a doctor or go to the hospital, can I find English-speaking doctors? Where is the closest hospital?
  • How does insurance work? Do I need to get special insurance while I am abroad?
  • How can I get in contact with my doctor? Can someone from my support team contact my doctor if I can’t?

Here’s a little story about how back-up supplies and my support team saved the day while I was in Rome:

About halfway through my semester, I was returning from Venice on an overnight trip and I arrived back in Rome early in the morning. I must have been sleep deprived, because I left my phone on the train! To anyone else, that would be very frustrating but manageable; most of the things people use their phones for, like email and messages, can be done on a computer. For me, it felt like a disaster, because my Dexcom G5 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) was tied to my phone. I love being able to check my blood sugar with just a glance at my phone, but without my phone, I couldn’t use my CGM. Because I’m used to constantly knowing my blood sugar, not having readings for an extended period of time was hard. Long story short, it was two days before I could get my phone back, and only with help from my support team in Rome. Thankfully, I had plenty of test strips and a blood glucose meter (BGM), so my back-up supplies came to the rescue.

Enjoy new foods, but do so in moderation.

After all my preparation, living in Rome still brought different challenges my way. Even though I wanted to experience all that Rome had to offer, I still had to keep blood sugar management in the back of my mind, especially during mealtime. Italian cuisine is full of carb-heavy foods, from pastries for breakfast to sandwiches, pizza, and pasta for lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, all these unknown carbs can make it hard to keep one’s blood sugar in range.

I didn’t want to deny myself all of the delicious, yet carb-rich, Italian foods. But I also didn’t want to drive my blood sugars out of my target range. I found that my best option was to eat these foods in moderation (just one or two bites), and fill myself up with delicious lower carb options, like vegetables and meat.

To prepare for a meal that may contain many carbs, make sure to dose extra insulin before the meal. If you end up eating more carbs than expected (which can easily happen with Italian food), the sooner you’re able to dose additional insulin – even if it means stopping in the middle of the meal to take insulin – the more quickly your blood sugars will respond.

Do some research and know what to order at restaurants.

When eating out at a restaurant, a good tactic is to order a meat, seafood, or vegetable-based dish as your main entree. Before you’re faced with ordering low-carb food in a foreign country, it’s helpful to know what you can expect from a local menu. Here’s what I learned in Italy:

  • Italian meals consist of several courses, including antipasto (appetizer), primi (the first course, typically pasta), secondi (the second course, usually meat or seafood), contorni (a side dish, usually a vegetable), and dolci (dessert).
  • Most people order either a primi or secondi as their main dish.
  • You can find the best low-carb options in the antipasti, secondi, or contorni sections of the menu.
  • If you have diabetes, ignore the primi section – it won’t be helpful for keeping your blood sugars in range.

One more tip: when you’re not sure what something is on the menu, it never hurts to ask the server or look up a picture online. This was important for me in Italy, since some of the meat dishes are breaded. I’ve included a list of my favorite low-carb Italian orders at the end of this article.

Share food with friends and family!

If you don’t want to miss out on experiencing all the pizza and pasta, get your friends to help you out. If they order a high-carb dish, ask if you can trade a few bites of your food for theirs – that way, you get to taste some pizza or pasta, while still keeping your meal low-carb. The same thing can apply to desserts, like gelato: ask a friend for a few bites, or offer to split one.

No matter what you decide to eat, just make sure you watch your blood sugars carefully, especially when trying new foods and guessing on insulin doses. Don’t let your diabetes stop you from exploring all the wonders of a new cuisine and culture, but also, don’t let impulsive food choices throw your blood sugars off. That balance can be hard to find, but do the best you can and enjoy the experience. Mangia bene (eat well)!

For more details, tips, and advice on studying abroad with diabetes, visit my blog, Winging It.

Here are some of my favorite low-carb Italian food orders, classified by course.

Antipasti (appetizers):

  • Insalata caprese (mozzarella, tomato, basil salad) – if you’re lucky, they’ll use fresh mozzarella di bufala, the most delicious cheese I’ve ever tasted!
  • Verdure grigliate misti (mixed grilled vegetables)
  • Affettato misto or salumi misti (mixed cold cuts)
  • Prosciutto (ham)

Secondi (entrees):

  • Tagliata/bistecca/filetto di manzo (beef)
  • Salsiccia (sausage)
  • Petto di pollo (chicken breast)
  • Vitella (veal)
  • Bollito alla picchiapo (beef stew in tomato sauce)

Contorni (side dishes):

  • Carciofo alla romana (roman artichoke)
  • Peperone (bell peppers)
  • Spinaci (spinach)
  • Insalata (salad)
maria horner

Image source: diaTribe

Maria Horner is a college student from Northern Virginia. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age seven, but she hasn’t let that hold her back! She had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Rome during the fall of 2018, and recently started a blog about her experiences, to help and encourage other people with diabetes that are interested in studying abroad. When she’s not in class, you can find her taking a dance course or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. She also loves travelling and going on adventures, one of her most recent adventures being skydiving!


Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes: Hanoi, Vietnam

Dr. Jody Stanislaw has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) for 40 years this June and is on an inspiring mission to inspire T1Ds everywhere that living a healthy and adventurous life with T1D is 100% possible.

She’s been traveling the world for the past 5 months and this month she is living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Watch this video to hear about the challenges she is facing.


Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes: Valencia, Spain

Dr. Jody Stanislaw has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) for almost 40 years and is on an inspiring adventure of living in a new country every month until September 202. She is on a mission to inspire T1Ds everywhere that living a healthy and adventurous life with T1D is 100% possible.

This month she is living in Valencia, Spain. Check out this video of a gorgeous city square and learn why paella, a classic Valencia dish, should be eaten at lunchtime.


Traveling with Type 1 Diabetes: Marrakech, Morocco

Dr. Jody Stanislaw has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) for 39 years and is on an inspiring adventure of living in a new country every month until Sept 2020! She is on a mission to inspire T1Ds everywhere that living a healthy and adventurous life with T1D is 100% possible. This week she is in Morocco. Check out this video of her wandering through this crazy market in Marrakech, with her Dexcom by her side.


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