If you’ve never traveled with your CPAP machine before, you might feel a little overwhelmed the first time you do. Maybe your mind swarms with questions:
- 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?
Ultimately, don’t stress despite all those questions. We’ve got answers for you. Here are 15 tips on how to travel with a CPAP machine.
[Related: Tips for Traveling With Allergies]
1. Don’t Leave It at Home
It may seem like a hassle to bring your CPAP machine and equipment with you on a trip. After all, what’s the worst a couple of days without it can do? However, continual use of your CPAP treatment is critical if you want to get quality sleep.
Don’t put your health and well-being at risk. Take the extra time to pack your CPAP, even for just one weekend away.
2. Review It for Wear and Tear
Before heading out on your trip, check your CPAP machine for wear and tear. The last thing you want is for your supplies to malfunction or break while out of town.
Review your machine at least two weeks before you’re scheduled to depart. That ensures you have enough time to replace or fix anything awry.
3. Use the Manufacturer’s Carrying Case
Another tip for traveling with a CPAP machine is to tote it in the carrying case that the manufacturer provided. This gives your equipment enough space and protects it from getting bent or broken, especially if you shove it in a suitcase with the rest of your stuff.
4. Call Your Airline Ahead of Time
Air travel with CPAP machines can be tricky. It’s never a bad idea to call your airline ahead of time to check its policies.
Airlines must allow you to take medical supplies onboard a flight. Still, they have the final say on whether you can actually use those supplies while in the air.
[Related: CPAP vs. BiPAP vs. APAP: Which Is Best?]
5. Have Backup Supplies Ready
Even if you’re only planning on a short trip, you should always have extra supplies ready. It’s irritating at best to run out of or lose items like mask cushions, headgear and filters while you’re away from home.
With that in mind, keep additional supplies on hand.
6. Don’t Check It
Has an airline ever lost your luggage? If you’ve been in that situation, you know how stressful it is to go without your phone charger, your tennis shoes and your favorite pair of pajamas.
Imagine how stressful it would be if you packed your CPAP machine in a suitcase that ended up lost on a layover and sent to Des Moines, Iowa, instead of Cape Town, South Africa. And of course, you’re in Cape Town.
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 airline before traveling just to make sure it has no specific regulations, like a required doctor’s note.
[Related: How To Sleep Better While Traveling]
7. Be Ready To Go Through Security
You’ll need to remove the CPAP machine from its case and place it in a bin to run through the X-ray machine. The tubing and face mask can stay in the machine case. If you’re wary of the germs lurking in security bins, place the machine in a clear plastic bag before it goes through the X-ray.
Your CPAP machine may need to go through an explosive trace detection test. A TSA agent will swab the CPAP and then place the swab into a special machine to check for explosives residue. This is an added security measure to ensure the safety of all passengers and flight staff.
8. Pack a Voltage Adapter
If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll probably remember to pack your wall outlet adapter. After all, you can’t plug your CPAP machine into an outlet that differs from the two-pronged versions in the U.S.
Another important difference to note is that electricity frequencies can vary from country to country. In the U.S., we operate on 120 V and 60 Hz. Meanwhile, 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 useless. A lower voltage may not allow the machine to function properly, if at all.
Some machines may have a dial that allows you to manually adjust the voltage. 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.
[Related: Guide to Seasonal Allergy Triggers]
9. Book a Flight With Accessible Outlets
If you plan to sleep on your journey but have problems sleeping while traveling, you’ll want to use your CPAP machine. Most airlines offer power outlets in business or first class, so you can plug in your machine while you doze on the plane.
Learn which airlines have power outlets available for economy seats and which demand upgrades.
10. Bring a Battery Pack
Having a battery pack on hand for your CPAP therapy can be extremely useful, especially if you’re on a road trip or camping out. Even with certain airlines, it’s still a toss-up concerning whether they’ll have outlets available. So when you travel, CPAP battery options are fantastic.
Battery packs can usually power one to three nights of CPAP use, depending on the model and settings. You might also look into solar panels that can recharge your battery during the day.
11. Use Bottled Water
Whether you’re staying at a five-star resort or camping in the middle of nowhere, it’s a good idea to bring bottled water to use for your machine. Using distilled water in your CPAP is important — tap water and even spring water contain minerals that can damage your machine over time. When traveling with CPAP machines, distilled water is a must.
12. Consider Investing in a Travel-Sized CPAP Machine
If your machine is too bulky or you think lugging it around will be a hassle, look into purchasing a travel-sized CPAP machine. They’re smaller and often come with a battery, which will come in handy if you plan to visit a city without electricity or go camping. All told, it could be the best CPAP for traveling.
Keep in mind that most insurance plans won’t pay for more than one machine, so this may be an out-of-pocket cost.
13. Keep It Safe at Your Destination
When you get to your destination, ensure your equipment stays safe from anything that could damage it. Keep it away from children and pets, and secure it inside the manufacturer’s case.
14. Bring Extra Cozy Sleep Accessories
Besides bringing your CPAP machine and all its accompanying equipment, don’t skimp on the cozy sleep accessories. Eye masks, comfortable travel pillows and extra-soft blankets can help you catch quality Z’s during your trip.
15. Visit Dr. Pasha for More Resources and a Better Night’s Sleep
Don’t let your sleep apnea get in the way of crossing locations off your travel bucket list. Use our tips to make traveling with a CPAP machine a breeze, so you can enjoy your stay and rest easy. You can also check out our best sleep aid for travel tips and snooze like a baby everywhere you go.
Dr. Pasha is a board-certified specialist and can help you determine whether you suffer from a sleep condition. He’s also experienced in multiple sleep apnea treatment methods, and he makes sure to consider what’s best for his patients.
Stop sleep apnea! Commit to your health by scheduling an appointment today.