How to Travel with a CPAP Machine: Tips and Tricks

by | Dec 22, 2021

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A lot of pre-planning has to go into even a small trip— what should you pack? What can you safely leave at home or pick up upon arrival? This can be tricky for most travelers, but it can become even more complicated if you are a CPAP user.

CPAP therapy, or continuous positive airway pressure therapy, is the most popular and effective sleep apnea treatment available. However, CPAP therapy utilizes a lot of equipment that isn’t always easy to pack, despite being necessary to treat your sleep apnea and help you sleep.

Traveling with your CPAP device and equipment shouldn’t be an obstacle in the way of your trip. First, let’s take a look at the components of your CPAP machine so you can know what you need to pack, and how.

The Key Parts of Your CPAP Machine

Your CPAP machine is made up of three main parts:

  • The motor, which draws in air from your room and pressurizes it
  • The CPAP mask, which delivers the air pressurized by the motor into your airways, helping you breathe easier
  • The hose, which connects your CPAP mask to the machine, allowing the passage of pressurized air

Most machines also include an air filter to remove irritants like dust and allergens from the air, and some also include a humidifier to prevent a dry nose, throat, or mouth after using the machine.

Before we get into our general tips for traveling with your CPAP machine, there are specific travel CPAP solutions available. If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, and keeping your packing lite is important to you, you may want to consider investing in a Travel CPAP machine. 

Is There a Travel Sized CPAP Machine?

Medical equipment like your CPAP machine can be a little bulky, even on your bedside table. This is why some patients with sleep apnea use a portable CPAP machine when they travel. These machines are smaller, easy to pack, and use a CPAP battery to power the machine.

Best of all, a travel CPAP machine can help you sleep well if you don’t have access to your regular CPAP machine. Many models are available, but we personally recommend the ResMed AirMini portable CPAP machine or Philips Respironics’ DreamStation Go Travel CPAP. 

If you’re a current patient and would like to know more about travel CPAP machines, you can reach out directly for more information by calling us at (615) 893-4896. 

Related: Order Your CPAP Equipment and Supplies

General Tips for Traveling with Your CPAP Machine

Whether you are using your normal CPAP machine or a portable CPAP machine, here are a few important tips to consider before you head out:

  • Do not leave your machine at home! This tip may seem obvious, but many people leave their CPAP equipment behind. Even if you’re going on a short trip, it’s important to continue your treatment each night.
  • Transport your equipment in the carrying case provided by the manufacturer— it provides the best protection for the machine, and will allow you to carry extra supplies if needed.
  • Always make sure the humidifier in your CPAP machine is dry before you pack everything. This can prevent spills, leaks, or even damage to the equipment.
  • To give yourself more room in your carrying case, consider detaching the humidifier and only using the PAP portion of your machine. We recommend using your machine this way before you travel as well to see if you’re still able to sleep well without the humidifier.
  • Bring an extension cord with you, just in case there isn’t a power outlet nearby your bed.
  • Bring an extra nose pillow with you, just in case the one you originally used fails.
  • When you arrive at your destination, make sure your CPAP equipment is safe from anything that could potentially damage it— including keeping it out of kids’ reach, ensuring it can’t be damaged by pets, et cetera.

Related: CPAP Setup, Maintenance and Cleaning

Air Travel with Your CPAP Machine

Air travel can be stressful even if you don’t have to worry about your CPAP machine. While it’s safe to pack it in your checked luggage, many travelers choose to transport their CPAP equipment in their carry-on bag, just to be safe. Whether it’s in your checked bag or a carry-on bag, here are some of our tips for flying with your CPAP equipment.

  • Your CPAP machine is one kind of medical device covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and it should not count as one of your carry-on bags. Check with your airline of choice to be sure though.
  • When you arrive at Airport Security, make sure to let the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents on duty know that you are carrying your CPAP machine with you. Like with your shoes, jacket, and electronic devices, you’ll need to remove your machine from its carrying case and put it in a plastic bin to be checked. You can leave your hose and mask in the carrying case though. If you’re worried about how clean the plastic bins are, you can place your CPAP machine into a clear plastic bag before you leave home to protect it from any germs in the TSA line.
  • If you decide to carry your equipment onto the airplane, it’s a good idea to store it under your seat rather than in the overhead bins. This helps prevent everything from potentially getting damaged during the flight.
  • If you pack your CPAP machine in your checked luggage, keep your machine in its carrying case and then pack it in the middle of your suitcase. Your clothes will add an extra layer of protection for your equipment.
  • Use filtered bottled water in place of distilled water for the humidifier while you are traveling. Make sure to use distilled water again once you return home though.

Road Trips with Your CPAP Machine

There aren’t as many rules to consider if you’re traveling with your CPAP equipment by car rather than by air. However, here are some tips that can make it that much easier.

  • When loading up your vehicle, be mindful of where you place your machine— you don’t want to end up with broken medical equipment when you arrive at your destination. Be sure to pack it in a place where it’s not in danger of being crushed, damaged, or destroyed. Don’t pack your equipment near any heavy objects that might fall on top of it.
  • Secure the machine well so that it doesn’t move around in transit.
  • Pack your machine away from your car’s hatch or trunk lid, so that it doesn’t get smashed by them, or fall out when you arrive at your destination.

You always want to be well-rested and alert so you can fully enjoy your business trip or vacation. While it might seem like a pain to bring your CPAP machine and equipment with you on a trip, you must continue your treatment if you want to sleep better. Leaving your CPAP equipment at home deprives you of this opportunity and puts your health at risk.

Traveling often has its own challenges— your CPAP therapy should not be one of them. It can take some time to adjust to sleeping in a new bed in a different place, but a good night’s sleep is vital to an enjoyable and safe trip. If you are driving, drowsy driving and a lack of sleep can put you and your entire family in danger. Even if you are flying to your destination and not driving, you still need to be alert and feel your best to have the most enjoyable trip you can.

Have questions about your CPAP therapy? Contact us at the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee today!

References

“Am I Allowed to Carry My CPAP Machine Onboard the Plane, Do I Have to Remove It from My Carry-on?” Am I Allowed to Carry My CPAP Machine Onboard the Plane, Do I Have to Remove It from My Carry-on? | Transportation Security Administration, www.tsa.gov/travel/frequently-asked-questions/am-i-allowed-carry-my-cpap-machine-onboard-plane-do-i-have-remove.

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