As the spring and summer vacation seasons begin, we'd like to give CPAP users some helpful travel tips. Stringent security measures at your airport, carry-on luggage considerations, overnight flights, travel to places with different or unreliable electric power - these issues, and many more, should be considered as you pack your CPAP machine for your travels.
Packing for Your Vacation - First and foremost... always bring your CPAP machine, even if you are traveling for just one night! Don’t skip your treatment due to the added bulk of carrying your CPAP machine with you. Even one night without your CPAP treatment could have serious consequences. Besides, you’ll want to be well rested for the activities you have planned at your destination. Prepare your CPAP machine for packing by first finding your travel bag (almost all machines come with one).
- Detach the humidifier
- Remove the water chamber and allow it dry completely
- Unplug the cord from the wall and from the back of your machine
- Pack everything securely into your travel case.
Remember to completely detach the humidifier component from your CPAP machine water can leak into the motor if they remain together during travel. Also, don’t forget your power cord! We receive many calls from customers who have their CPAP machine and humidifier but no cord to power it.
Some CPAP users choose to add a small CPAP-specific luggage tag to their CPAP bag that indicates that the machine is a prescribed medical device and should not be counted as one of the user’s allowed carry-on bags.
Going through Airport Security with Your CPAP Machine – For those travelers flying with their CPAP machines, an added challenge is getting through security with your machine intact. There is some debate in the CPAP community about whether you should check your CPAP machine in your luggage or carry it on with you. Checking it in your luggage will mean added risk due to the wear and tear of luggage being transported by baggage crew and the possibility of your luggage being delayed or lost. Carrying on your CPAP machine will ensure it arrives safely at your destination, but may mean you have to provide additional explanation or documentation to security officials.
If you choose to carry your CPAP machine on board with you, keep a letter from your doctor certifying your need for CPAP treatment and a current copy of your prescription. These documents may need to be shown to security officials.
Like a laptop, CPAP machines must be completely removed from your travel bag (though you can leave your face mask and tubing in the bag) and will be examined thoroughly by a security official. Please feel free to tell the official that the machine is delicate and needs to be handled accordingly. It is also within your rights to ask an official to use gloves when examining your machine.
Also remember, your machine does not count as one of your allowed carry-on bags. Each person is allowed one carry-on piece of luggage and one personal bag, but, according to the Department of Transportation, these limits do not apply to any medical devices.
Using Your CPAP while Flying - For overseas or overnight flights, you may need to use your CPAP machine on the plane. Some planes require that you be in business or first class to have access to a power supply. Please contact the airline before your trip to learn the capabilities of the airplane on which you’ll be traveling. Some airplane power supplies may also require an adapter to run your machine.
When You Arrive – Different geographical locations may require some adjustments to your machine for it to work properly. If you travel to a higher or lower altitude than your home, you may need to manually adjust for the altitude difference in the menu of your CPAP machine or it may adjust automatically to compensate for the difference (check your machine manual for more information).
Overseas travel will require some sort of adapter. Most CPAP machines purchased after 2005 will be able to work on any voltage, be it the 110 voltage in the US or the 220-240 voltage found in Europe and other countries; all you’ll need is an inexpensive plug adapter to fit your destination country’s electrical plug. Older CPAP machines may have a switch to adjust the input voltage. Check your machine manual for more information.
Other Power Options for Travel – For long distance driving or camping without electricity, there are other, alternative power options for your CPAP. Some CPAP machines, such as the Transcend or the Aeiomed Everest 3, have the option of a separate battery pack. Other machines may work with a third party, external battery pack. DC power adapters are also available for many machines, allowing you to connect your CPAP machine to a DC power source like your car’s cigarette lighter or a marine battery.
Do I Need a Travel Machine? Some people find that their machines are too bulky for travel or that they prefer to have a secondary machine that remains packed and ready for any trip. For these individuals, a travel CPAP machine may be the best solution. Lightweight, compact and designed with alternate power options in mind, these machines have the functionality and features of a standard CPAP machine, but are often a better solution for travelers. Contact our team today to see if a travel CPAP might be the best option for your lifestyle.