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 get to your destination to find that you’ve forgotten your power cord or other essentials.
- Be sure you have your mask, tubing, filter and CPAP wipes.
- If your travelling internationally, be sure to pack the correct adaptors or plugs for your destination. Most CPAP machines can adapt to various voltages, but it’s best to know before you go.
- A battery backup is essential for off-grid adventures and is handy for use on a plane or in case of a power outage.
- An extension cord is a godsend if there isn’t a handy plug next to the bed.
- Seriously, don’t forget the power cord, it’s easy to leave it plugged into the wall when you’re packing.
2. Make sure your equipment is clean and dry before you pack.
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. Distilled or Bottled?
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 you can’t, then use only bottled water, especially in locations where you shouldn’t drink the water – if you can’t ingest it, don’t inhale it.
And 5 tips for flying with your CPAP:
1. DO NOT pack your CPAP machine in your checked luggage.
It’s tempting to do, I’ve done it, then spent the entire 9 hour flight wondering if my luggage was on the plane with me. It’s not worth it. If your luggage is lost or damaged, and it happens, you will be without your therapy and that can ruin a great trip.
2. DO NOT pack your CPAP in your Carry-On Bag.
A CPAP is considered medical equipment and is not considered 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.
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 to see if in-seat electrical power is offered but be prepared to 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 that isn’t carrying one knows or cares what it is.
When you go through security, grab 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. Going the extra mile.
Here are some things that 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.
Bottom Line? Don’t leave home without your CPAP machine.
Travel is one of life’s greatest pleasures. So get out there and see the world, visit the family, do all of the things because you deserve it and we all need it. Getting there with your machine is a little pain for a whole lot of gain and enjoying it to the fullest will be much easier if you are well-rested and full of energy.