Travelling the world with diabetes: the true story of Claudio Pelizzeni

Did you know that more than 422 million people live with diabetes globally? Getting diagnosed with diabetes can be overwhelming while, in some cases, managing blood sugar levels or having limited food choices can be really stressful.

To offer a service in line with the needs of those who face the challenges that diabetes can cause, we, at Markas, have designed special menus that allow our customers to enjoy a balanced meal in complete peace of mind.

But that’s not all! Raising awareness about diabetes is equally important! We want people to realize that everyone can live a life full of unforgettable experiences, even those who suffer from a delicate condition like diabetes.

That’s why we met Claudio Pelizzeni, a former banker that decided to leave everything and travel around the world...with diabetes!
Travelling with diabetes - Claudio Pelizzeni
1000 days, 44 countries, 5 continents, and a budget of 15 euro per day; what inspired you to depart for such a journey?

I always loved traveling but I never had the time for such a long trip. One evening while looking at the sunset I realized that I needed a change in my life. I had to stop finding excuses and start pursuing my dreams. I was 32 years old, I had no pets, no relationship and no family.

And that’s exactly when I decided to leave everything behind and start the journey of a lifetime. And so I did! I packed my backpack and I decided to follow my dreams. I decided not to take any flights. Instead, I took trains, buses and boats. I met many people, I made new friends, I did various temporary jobs and I simply made my dream come true!  
Travelling with diabetes - Claudio Pelizzeni in Tanzania
Food is an important part of the travel experience. Every day Markas prepares more than 5.000 meals for people with diabetes so we are well aware of the challenges associated with diabetes and meal planning. Did these challenges stop you from fully enjoying your trip?

Definitely not! For me food is a means of discovering a place, its culture and above all it helps me create true connections with locals. Sharing a meal can teach you many things.

For example, in some Asian countries, eating on the floor is the norm. It derives from religious beliefs and the need to show respect to nature. Also, it is perceived as a way to maintain a better posture and digest better.  

In India, for instance, eating with your fingers is a practice that dates several centuries back and that has survived until today. This is because eating is a sensual process and therefore touch is an important part of the experience.

So I didn’t want to stop myself from enjoying local dishes – in fact my favorite is Pad Thai, a typical  street food dish from Thailand. Of course, exploring new flavors and meals you don’t really know was challenging but I was in constant communication with my doctors to make sure I would consume the right amount and type of food. And this really helped.
Travelling with diabetes - asian food
Through tailor-made teaching activities, Markas brings food education to more than 3.500 young students annually. What, according to you, should the role of collective catering companies towards food and catering services be?

For me, food education plays a crucial role in shaping children’s behaviors. Raising awareness and establishing healthy eating habits from an early age can prevent many people from getting diabetes. Therefore, teaching kids the different types of foods and their benefits is extremely important and can really affect their future health! 

Another important factor is knowing the nutritional values of each meal you eat. Being able to understand what you eat and knowing that a meal is adapted to your own needs makes eating much more enjoyable!

Travelling with diabetes - Claudio Pelizzeni in Asia
What would you like to share with other travel lovers out there that have diabetes?

Don’t limit yourself. Limits exist only in our mind. If you really want something you can achieve it. I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 9. So living with diabetes from an early age has taught me how to cope with problems successfully. I don’t see diabetes as a problem; it is my motivation for keeping fit and looking after myself and my diet.

Diabetes is not an obstacle as long as you plan carefully, you look after yourself and of course you follow your doctor’s advice.
If you want to travel the world, speak to your doctor and make an organized plan based on your health requirements. Thanks to today’s progress diabetes is manageable as long as you are cautious.

Find out more about Trip Therapy and Claudio Pelizzeni’s trip around the world.
Photo credits: Claudio Pelizzeni / Trip Therapy