Wondering about travelling with your CPAP machine?

People ask me about this all of the time, many seem reluctant to travel with their CPAP machines and are tempted to leave them at home…Don’t do it!

It’s a piece of cake.  Whether you’re travelling by plane, train or automobile, with just a little preparation, you can safely and happily travel with your CPAP machine.

3 Simple Tips for Your Next Trip:

1.  Make a List.  Check it twice.

You don’t want to arrive at your destination to find that you’ve forgotten your power cord or other essentials.  Here’s what you need to pack:

  • Mask
  • Tubing
  • CPAP wipes
If you’re travelling internationally, be sure to pack the correct adapter or plugs for your destination.  Most CPAP machines can adapt to various voltages, but it’s best to know before you go.
  • Battery Backup:  Essential for off-grid adventures and handy for use on a plane or in case of a power outage.
  • Extension Cord:  A godsend if there isn’t a handy plug next to the bed.
  • Power Cord:  Seriously, don’t forget it!  It’s easy to leave it plugged into the wall when you’re packing.

2.  Ensure Your Equipment is Clean and Dry

Leaving first thing?  Be sure to empty the humidifier chamber and dry it before putting it into the bag.  And grab that power cord 😉

3.  Water 

While it is important to use only distilled water in your CPAP, packing it isn’t always practical.  If you can get it at your destination – great!  If not, use bottled water, especially in locations where the tap water isn’t safe to drink. 

5 Tips for Flying with Your CPAP:

1.  DO NOT Pack Your CPAP Machine in Checked Luggage

It’s tempting, but if your luggage is lost or damaged, you’ll be without your therapy, which can ruin a great trip.

2.  DO NOT Pack Your CPAP in Your Carry-On Bag

A CPAP is considered medical equipment and isn’t counted as an additional carry-on item.  Pack your machine into its carrying case and save the room in your carry-on for other things.  Remember to tag your CPAP bag with your name and contact information just in case.

3.  Plan Ahead for Long Flights

Check with your airline for their regulations regarding use of your CPAP machine during the flight.  Many require 48 hours’ notice if you are planning to use your machine.  Check if in-seat electrical power is available, bring a battery backup if power is not available or isn’t working.

4.  Getting Through Airport Security

This is the bit that freaks people out.  Don’t worry, security agents see hundreds, if not thousands, of CPAP machines every day.  Take a look around, you will start to notice how many other travellers are toting their machines through the airport just like you are.  But trust me, nobody who isn’t carrying one knows or cares what it is.

Take a separate bin for your CPAP machine.  Pull the machine (just the part with the motor) out of your bag and place it in the bin.  Your tubing, humidifier tub, mask, etc… can stay in the bag.  I always pull out my backup battery too if I’m carrying one.  You can put a clear plastic bag over your machine if you’re squeamish about the cleanliness of those bins, or use a wipe to clean it off once you’re through.

5.  Gold Star Extras

Here are some things you may never need, but I have seen them recommended by others.  You can’t be too prepared, right?!?

  • A copy of your prescription
  • An air travel letter from your provider identifying you as a CPAP user.
  • A travel letter for your battery backup (see an example of the Medistrom letter here).
  • A travel compliance letter from your CPAP manufacturer (see an example from ResMed here).
  • Instead of a regular bag tag, you can purchase a Medical Device ID tag.

CPAP Machines vs. Travel CPAP Machines:  Pros and Cons

When choosing between a standard CPAP machine and a travel CPAP machine, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of each. Standard CPAP machines are typically larger and more robust, offering a range of features, including advanced humidification systems, extensive pressure settings, and quiet operation. They are ideal for home use where space and portability are not concerns. However, their size and weight can make them less convenient for travel, especially for frequent flyers or those with limited luggage space.

On the other hand, travel CPAP machines are designed with portability in mind. Devices are compact and lightweight, making them easy to pack and carry. They often feature innovative solutions like waterless humidification and battery options for use on the go. The primary advantage is their convenience and ease of use during travel. However, they may have fewer features than their full-sized counterparts, such as limited pressure settings or reduced humidification options.  Travel CPAP machines might be slightly noisier due to their smaller size and simpler design.

In summary, while standard CPAP machines offer a comprehensive therapy experience ideal for home use, travel CPAP machines provide a convenient and portable solution for maintaining sleep apnea therapy on the road. The choice depends on your lifestyle and specific needs, balancing the necessity of advanced features against the benefits of portability.

Bottom Line?  Don’t Leave Home Without Your CPAP Machine

Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  So get out there, see the world, visit the family, and do all of the things because you deserve it and we all need it.  Getting there with your machine is a small inconvenience for a lot of gain.  Enjoy your travels to the fullest by staying well-rested and full of energy.  

For more information on travel CPAP machines or backup battery packs visit our website or email us at [email protected].