5 Tips for Traveling with a CPAP Machine

Home / 5 Tips for Traveling with a CPAP Machine
5-Tips for Traveling with a CPAP Machine

Swimsuit—check. Neck pillow—check. Sunscreen, hiking boots, good book—check, check, check. You’re almost ready for your dream vacation, and you only have one more thing left to pack—your handy-dandy CPAP machine. If you’ve never traveled with your CPAP machine before, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Is it fragile? Will I have trouble getting through security at the airport? Should I check it with my bags, or carry it onboard the plane? Will it take up too much space in my suitcase? Many questions are probably running through your mind, but don’t stress. We’ve got the answers for you. Here are 5 tips to help you travel with ease, CPAP and all.

Don’t Check Your CPAP Machine

Has an airline ever lost your luggage before? If you’ve been in that situation, you know how stressful it can be to go without your phone charger, your tennis shoes, and your favorite pair of pajamas. Imagine how stressful it would be if your CPAP machine was packed in a suitcase that ended up getting lost on a layover and sent to Des Moines, Iowa instead of to Cape Town, South Africa with you. Because a CPAP machine is medically necessary, airlines don’t count it toward your carry-on allowances, and you should be able to store it in the overhead bins. Check with your specific airline before traveling, just to make sure there are no specific regulations, like a required doctor’s note.

Be Ready to Go through Security

The CPAP machine itself will need to be removed from its case and placed into a bin to run through the X-ray machine. The tubing and face mask can stay in the CPAP machine case, however. If you’re wary of germs lurking around in security bins, place the machine in a clear plastic bag before it goes through for the X-ray. Your CPAP machine may need to go through an Explosive Trace Detection test in which a TSA agent will swab the CPAP and then place the swab into a special machine to check for residue from explosives. This is an added measure of security to ensure the safety of all passengers and flight staff.

Pack a Voltage Adapter

If you’re traveling internationally, you probably thought to pack your wall outlet adapter. After all, you can’t plug your CPAP machine into an outlet that’s different than the two-pronged versions we have in the U.S. Another important difference to note is that electricity frequencies can vary from country to country. In the United States, we operate on 120 V and 60 Hz, while Indonesia runs 230 V and 50 Hz and Japan uses 100 V and 50 Hz/60 Hz. If you try to plug your machine into an outlet with a higher voltage, you’ll likely fry your machine, rendering it completely useless. A lower voltage may not allow the machine to properly function, if at all. Some devices may have a dial on the machine that allows you to manually adjust the voltage, but if yours doesn’t, you can purchase a voltage adapter before your trip to make sure the voltage difference doesn’t destroy your CPAP machine.

Book a Flight with Outlets to Sleep on the Plane

If you plan on sleeping on your journey (check out this blog for some tips to help you if you have trouble sleeping on a plane), you’ll want to use your CPAP machine. Most airlines offer power outlets in business or first class so you can plug your machine in while you doze on the plane. Many airlines have power outlets available for the economy seats, but call your airline before booking your flight to make sure you get a seat equipped with the ability to plug in your machine.

Consider Investing in a Travel-Sized CPAP Machine

If your machine is too bulky, or you feel that it will be a hassle to lug it on and off the plane and to your hotel, look into purchasing a travel-sized CPAP machine. They’re smaller and often come with a battery, which could come in handy if you plan on camping or visiting a city without electricity. Keep in mind that most insurances won’t pay for more than one CPAP machine, so this may be an out-of-pocket cost.

Don’t let your sleep apnea get in the way of crossing locations off of your travel bucket list. Use our tips to help make traveling with your CPAP machine a breeze, so you can enjoy your vacation and rest easy knowing you have the equipment necessary to help manage your sleep apnea.

Check out this blog to read about Dr. Pasha’s experiences with allergies in Florence, Italy. You can also take a look at the Pasha Travel Guide to see this year’s top 12 travel destinations, and learn tips for traveling allergy-free. This week, we’re featuring Jerusalem, Israel, and covering allergens to watch out for, fun activities to do while you’re there, and important medicine restrictions for travelers. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more updates!