10 Tips for Flying and Traveling with a CPAP Machine

10 Tips for Flying and Traveling with a CPAP Machine

If you’re a CPAP user, you know how important it is to use your machine consistently to feel your best. This is true even when you're traveling. Whether you're going on a business trip, visiting family, or taking a vacation, traveling with a CPAP machine is crucial to ensuring you enjoy the quality of sleep you need to receive effective therapy and feel your best throughout the trip. However, a 2018 CPAP travel study found that 19% of respondents didn't bring their machine with them on their trip. While navigating TSA regulations, finding compatible electrical outlets, and lugging around extra equipment can be daunting, don't allow these challenges to discourage you. By adequately planning and preparing, you can travel stress-free and continue your CPAP therapy without interruption.

In this guide, we'll provide a comprehensive set of tips and tricks for flying and traveling with a CPAP. Click one of the sections below to jump to it or keep reading for the full list:

  1. Planning for Travel with a CPAP
  2. Flying with a CPAP Machine
  3. General Comfort Tips While Traveling
  4. Choosing Backup Power Options

Planning for Travel with a CPAP

1. Contact Hotels or Other Lodging

If you're traveling with a CPAP machine, it's important to check that your hotel or other lodging has electrical outlets. Ensure these are available before you book. Some hotels may offer CPAP-friendly accommodations with extra electrical outlets and even specialized pillows to make your stay more comfortable.

If you're traveling abroad, rest assured that you can use your machine in your destination country, but you should check if you need an adapter for your machine's power cord. Reference a power adaptor guide to see which style you need to ensure you can plug in your machine and charge accessories while abroad.

Whether you're traveling with a CPAP at home or abroad, we recommend bringing an external backup battery if you determine that your accommodations will not provide sufficient access to power outlets.

Half packed suitcase laying on a bed

2. Create a Packing Checklist for CPAP Supplies

Making a checklist ahead of your trip to ensure you remember essentials like toothpaste and shampoo is a common practice. Adding your CPAP equipment and supplies to the list or creating a dedicated list can help ensure that you have all the necessary items for your therapy and don't forget anything important, both before embarking on your trip and before returning home. Here are several items you may want to include:

If you use a humidifier with your therapy, also remember to bring a bottle of distilled water on your trip or buy one once you reach your destination.

3. Consider Using a Travel CPAP Machine

Although you can use regular CPAP machine on trips, we strongly recommend using travel CPAP machine instead, especially if your trip will only last a few days. These machines are more portable since they're smaller, lighter, and cordless. If you need a travel CPAP machine, we offer devices for rent and purchase:

  • Rent a Travel CPAP Machine: This may be a good choice if you only need the machine for a short period or if you don't want to invest in a new machine.
  • Buy a Travel CPAP Machine: This may be a better option if you travel often or want to own your machine for peace of mind.

Flying with a CPAP Machine

Man on computer while writing notes

4. Research Airlines’ CPAP Policies and Requirements

If you're concerned about flying with a CPAP machine, it's important to know that US airlines generally permit you to bring, store, and use your CPAP machine on board, as it's considered a medical device. However, different airlines have varying conditions and policies when it comes to using your CPAP machine in flight. We recommend researching the airline's policies well in advance so you can plan accordingly.

Every airline is a bit different, so we recommend researching your airline's specific requirements ahead of time and contacting them at least 48 hours before your flight to confirm their policies so you're prepared on your travel day.

5. Review TSA Rules and Regulations for Traveling with a CPAP

Before flying, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) rules and regulations for traveling with a CPAP machine. You can bring your CPAP machine as a carry-on item through security, but you must take it out of the carrying case and place it in a separate bin for the screening process. The TSA also permits carrying up to 3.4 ounces of distilled water in a quart-sized bag, for your humidifier.

6. Deciding Whether to Carry On or Check a CPAP Machine

Though CPAP machines are permitted as carry-on items, some travelers may prefer to check their machines, rather than carry them through the airport. If you choose to go this route, we recommend packing the machine in your checked luggage bag with plenty of padding around it. However, it's crucial to know that checking your CPAP machine can lead to damage and the airline's insurance may not cover it. Therefore, carrying it with you on the flight is usually the safest and most secure option.

  • Remember: If your CPAP machine has lithium-ion batteries, it must be packed in your carry-on baggage. This is required by the FAA.

7. Tips for Using a CPAP Machine on an Airplane

Feeling nervous about using a CPAP machine during a flight? Don't fret! Here are some tips to make the experience more comfortable.

  • Pack extra supplies like tubing, masks, and filters to be prepared for any necessary component replacements during the flight.
  • Bring a neck pillow to support optimal airflow and maximum comfort while you sleep.
  • Wear earplugs and an eye mask to reduce cabin noise and other distractions that may disrupt your sleep.

General Comfort Tips While Traveling

Father and son setting up a tent outside

8. Using a CPAP Machine in Different Types of Lodging

We understand that your travels may take you places far beyond a hotel room. Whether camping in the great outdoors or cruising across the open sea, it is possible to travel with a CPAP with comfort and ease. Here are some strategies for using your CPAP machine in various settings:

  • RVs: RVs often have limited electrical outlets, so it's essential to make sure you have access to one near your sleeping area. If there isn’t one, consider bringing an external battery.
  • Camping: When camping, consider bringing a portable CPAP machine with a battery or a solar charger. You may also want to bring an air mattress or a sleeping pad for added comfort. Read our full guide to camping with a CPAP machine for more information.
  • Cruise Ships: Like with hotel stays, contact the cruise line before departure to confirm access to proper electrical outlets.

9. Tips for Managing CPAP-Related Anxiety or Discomfort While Traveling

It's not uncommon for CPAP users to experience anxiety or discomfort when using their machines in unfamiliar environments. To ease these feelings, consider the following helpful tips:

  • If you're new to CPAP or if you’re using a travel machine that’s new to you, practice using your machine at home so you're familiar with the settings, features, and accessories before your trip.
  • Use proven relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and guided imagery to help calm anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Consider using a CPAP machine that offers advanced comfort features, such as ramp-up settings, to make your therapy more comfortable.

10. Choosing Backup Power Options

One of the biggest concerns when traveling with a CPAP machine is ensuring that you have access to power. Power outages, camping trips, and other situations can all disrupt your therapy if you're unprepared. That's why it's important to have a backup power source on hand. Here are some options to consider:

  • CPAP Batteries: Battery packs can be charged before your trip, allowing you to use them even when there's no access to an electrical outlet.
  • Solar Chargers: For camping trips and other outdoor adventures, a solar charger is a great option to recharge your external battery during the day so it's ready to use at night.

A happy family packing the car on vacation

Enjoy Traveling With Your CPAP!

CPAP therapy doesn’t have to be challenging to manage when traveling. With the right preparation and mindset, you can continue exploring the world and enjoy new experiences with your CPAP machine as a helpful companion, all while maintaining high-quality therapy. Here's a quick summary of our tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  1. Contact your hotel or lodging about electrical outlet access.
  2. Review your packing checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
  3. Consider if it's worth it to buy or rent a travel CPAP machine.
  4. Research your airline's CPAP machine policies and requirements.
  5. Be familiar with the TSA rules and regulations for traveling with a CPAP machine.
  6. Know ahead of time whether you will check or carry on your CPAP machine.
  7. Prepare what you'll need to use your machine on the flight if necessary.
  8. Consider your lodging setup and make any adjustments accordingly.
  9. Ensure you're familiar with your machine's layout and settings before your trip.
  10. Plan to have a backup power source ready in case of unexpected changes to your plans.

If you have additional questions about the logistics of traveling with a CPAP machine, we recommend talking with your doctor or healthcare provider as you plan your trip. For any questions about your machine or any of the products we offer, our customer service team will be happy to help.