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Being diabetic obviously means that I have to take my medication everywhere with me and when I go on holiday I have to make sure that I have enough to last the whole holiday as well as some spare just in case. When I was younger the problem would always be keeping my insulin cold, this is something that when I am at home I have to keep in the fridge at all times, apart from the insulin pen I am using at the time. However several years ago we came across the Frio Insulin Travel Wallet, it was perfect for keeping my medication cold at al times whilst travelling and was even more ideal for when I travelled abroad.
The Frio Travel Wallet is basically a large rectangle shape made from an extremely tough strong feeling material, this has strips sewn into it which are then filled with what feels like hard small beads, these go the whole length of the fabric. The rectangle of material has Velcro around the whole edge, this is so that you can fold it in half to make the pouch or wallet, this then has a small flap of material on top which can be secured with a strip of Velcro to keep the contents inside. This wallet then fits inside a second pre made wallet (not one you have to secure with Velcro) this second wallet is made of a much thicker material, this too has a flap of fabric on top which pulls down over the top of the opening and secures in place with Velcro as with the wallet inside.
The wallets themselves are quite plain in design, mine has a dark blue inner wallet with a dark green outer wallet, this also has a small label on the edge with Frio written on it. It was a few years ago that I purchased mine and although the basically design is the same they Frio Travel Wallets do come in different colour now and include Green, Black, Red, Burgundy, Purple and Blue, it also seems that the inner wallet matches the colour of the outer wallet now, whereas mine are two different colours.
The Frio Travel Wallet is a very simple way of keeping your insulin cool when out and about, particularly if you are going on holiday to a hot country, or even on a long car journey, the wallet is simply activated with water. You remove the inner wallet from inside the outer wallet (this is the one with the hard beads in it) unfold it and place it in a bowl of cold water Personally I find that leaving it in water for 2 or 3 hours is just the right amount of time, now my wallet is getting a bit old now and does take longer to fully activate, also the wallets have probably bee modified by now and after reading up on the it now takes just 15 minutes for the wallet to be fully activate, however the activation process is still the same despite the time needed. As the inner wallet soaks in the cold water you will notice that the hard beads gradually soften until the strips where these beads are sewn are filled with a thick gel, it is this gel that keeps the contents of the wallet cold. Once the beads have fully turned to gel you remove the wallet from the water and lightly squeeze out any excess water and dry with a towel, the wallet is now ready to be filled with your medication.
I do find that once the inner wallet has been put back inside the outer wallet it does make this outer wallet a bit wet, now again this could be because my wallet is getting on a bit now as the information about the newer Frio wallets says that once towel try you could put the whole thing in your bag or pocket, you certainly couldn't do that with mine, however for me this is not a problem I simply put the whole thing inside a carrier bag in my hand luggage when travelling just in case it makes the rest of my things wet.
I use the pre filled insulin pens and it is these that I have to keep in the fridge at home and keep cold when travelling, with the wallet I have I find that I can keep about 5 to 6 pens inside and comfortably seal it up again, this measures approximately 140mm x 180mm.
This I find is quite a decent size and holds enough pens for an average length holiday, obviously the amount of pens or cartridges (whichever method of insulin you use) depends on the size of pens/ cartridges you use. I do find that this size wallet does hold enough insulin for me to go on holiday, however I often tuck a couple of extra pens inside the outer wallet so that they are pressed up against the inner cold wallet, I think if I was to replace my existing wallet I would go for a slightly larger one.
The Frio Wallet comes in a variety of sizes including extra large ones, and ones which hold just one or two pens, mine I think is classed as the large wallet. If you were going on an extra long holiday you would need to maybe consider purchasing a couple of the wallets to ensure you can take enough of you medication with you, however again this depends on your personal requirements, also a lot of places provide a fridge in hotel rooms that you can keep your medication in once there.
The Frio Travel Wallets are designed to keep insulin cool for up to 45 hours in temperatures up to 38 degrees without the need for a fridge or ice and I have to say I have found this to be the case, I can confidently put my medication inside the wallet and know it is going to be kept cool enough for a couple of days, however I do always put it in the fridge at the soonest opportunity.
For my honeymoon a few months ago we went to Cyprus where it was extremely hot, I was a bit concerned about my medication as I often find the fridges abroad do not seem to be as cold as ours at home, to ensure that my medication kept cold enough I actually kept it inside the Frio wallet and put the whole thing inside the fridge, this kept it cold for the whole of the holiday and I didn't have to worry about it. When you are not using the Frio Wallet you simply allow it to dry out, or if you want to re-use it you just soak it in water again for a few minutes. If you are drying the wallet out you will gradually notice the gel in the strips inside the inner wallet gradually start to turn back into hard beads, this actually take several days and sometimes up to a week for it to fully dry out, if you can put the wallet somewhere warm or outside in the sun I do find that it dries out much quicker but you do need to ensure that it has fully dried out before you store it away again.
To be honest I have no idea where my Frio Travel Wallet came from or how much it cost, however these items are now widely available and can even be purchased online from shops such as Amazon as well as chemists and similar shops. The price depends on the size wallet you buy, my size will cost you £17.64 from Amazon, obviously the smaller ones are cheaper with the extra large ones being more expensive. The price of this item also depends on where you purchase it from, although personally I would say that Amazon is very reasonably priced, and should I decide to replace mine with a newer version I would probably buy it from here as they have a large selection of sizes and are fairly price.
I would say that the Frio Travel Wallet is well worth the money, it is extremely hardwearing, the fabric is very strong, I have had mine several years now and have taken it on several holidays and it is still in excellent condition, it still securely fastens with the Velcro and still keeps my medication cold, they are definitely long lasting and I have certainly had my moneys worth out of it.
Overall I would definitely recommend the Frio Travel wallet, it is an excellent way of keeping your medication cold whilst travelling especially if you are diabetic and have to keep you medication in the fridge at all times. The wallet does exactly what it says it will and keeps your medication cool for a couple of days without using a fridge or ice. The newer versions only take up to 15 minutes to fully activate (although my older version does take longer) The wallets will easily fit into your hand luggage or handbag and allows you to keep your medication with you and keep it safe and cool at all time. I would say that the wallets are very reasonably priced and even come in a variety of sizes and colours now which was not the case when I bought mine. This is an excellent product and one I will continue to use and would recommend to any one.
The FRIO Insulin wallet is a cleverly designed product which provides cool storage for insulin when travelling. I have been diabetic for 10+ years and have never considered the storage of insulin when going on holiday to be a problem. I normally carry the insulin in my hand luggage in a plastic container until we reach our destination, and then I place it in the fridge. However, on my most recent holiday, the hotel we were staying in did not provide a fridge in the room, but offered to keep it in the restaurant fridge instead. I was concerned with this, as it could easily be discarded or the fridge could be too cold/not cold enough and then the insulin would be damaged. After my dietician suggested the FRIO to me, I decided to invest, and ordered the FRIO duo from medicalshop.co.uk. This website allows you to buy medical products exempt from VAT if you are diabetic.
The FRIO comes in 5 different sizes -
*Individual - Holds one insulin pen
*Small - Holds 5 3ml insulin cartridges or 2 vials of insulin
*Duo - Holds 2 pens or 1 pen and 2 cartridges
*Large - Holds 1 pen and 10 3ml insulin cartridges or 2 pens and 5 cartridges or 5 disposable pens or 4 vials of insulin
*Extra Large - Holds 1 pen and 40 3ml insulin cartridges or 8 disposable pens or 8 vials of insulin
Prices range from £12.00 - £18.99 (exc VAT).
My FRIO arrived quickly, and included directions for use and storage. I ordered the red colour, which looks nice. There are two layers, an inside pocket which contains what feels like silicone gel crystals, and an outside "Cambrelle" pocket. To activate the inside pocket, just soak in water for a number of minutes (soaking time varies depending on size of FRIO wallet) until the crystals turn to gel, and then pat down the wet pocket with a towel/paper towel. When the gel has settled, you can place the activated pack inside the cambrelle pocket. Your insulin is then ready to be stored.
The product relies on evaporation to work correctly. As the water is evaporated from the crystals, the contents of the pocket are cooled. Because of this, the FRIO wallet cannot be kept in an airtight container, but instead it must be in contact with the air. As a suggestion, I read somewhere that an ideal place to keep your FRIO wallet containing insulin is in a mesh pocket on a handbag/rucksack. I kept mine in my hand luggage, right at the top, with the zip open, and it seemed to work perfectly. I was concerned there may be issues when going through airport security, as the FRIO gel is of course a liquid. However, I mentioned I had insulin and a gel cooler and there were no further questions asked.
At first, whilst on the plane, I was shocked and impressed by how cool the insulin was kept. It also remained very cool whilst in the room, with the air con on. However, I used the pocket to keep my insulin pen in, and when out and about in the hot air in Spain where temperatures were about 35C, it didn't do as good a job. Although the insulin did not become hot as it may have without the wallet, it didn't actually feel cold, just mildly cool.
The instructions say that after a few days, as soon as the gel begins to crystallise, the pocket needs to be re-soaked. This happened after approx 4 days, and re-soaking was easy and reactivated the wallet immediately. It is also handy to know that the FRIO is reusable time and time again, as long as it is dried out and stored correctly after use. I'll definitely be using mine every time I travel in future.
To summarise, a product well worth the money, as it worked the majority of the time (just not as well in long periods of hot weather), and definitely kept my insulin cooler than it would have been without the FRIO.
A must have for diabetics who are travelling and need to store their insulin safely!