Feb 10, 2022 by PrimeClean
Having sleep apnea and CPAP therapy prescribed pushes you to make some small life adjustments, habit changes, make new routines…benefit of using CPAP therapy is way higher than those small changes you might need to make. One of the things you need to change or learn is how to travel with CPAP Breathing Machine. So whether you are a frequent traveler or just a few times a year traveler, ground or flying traveler, short or long-distance traveler, traveling with a CPAP takes some extra preparation.
Although you might be tempted to skip your CPAP therapy for a night or two, do keep in mind that even one night without CPAP could bring back Sleep Apnea symptoms you want to avoid in the first place (fatigue, headache, irritability…), and that can ruin your trip and be a much bigger inconvenience than packing your CPAP machine.
Also, you might think that it is OK if you don’t bring your cleaning equipment, CPAP ozone sanitizer (CPAP Cleaner Ozone Sterilizer Disinfector Sanitizer…), but this is something you need to be careful with! Daily cleaning and sanitizing is a process that keeps your CPAP equipment clean and safe to use, and although it should be fine if you skip a day or maybe even two (depending on the conditions how and where CPAP is being used) if you are used to daily sanitizing, your “feeling” of mask/hose not being clean might keep you anxious and awake.
Finally, for long-time users, the routine of wearing a CPAP mask and breathing pressurized air is something they feel missing when they don't use it and then might feel uncomfortable.
OK, this is a pretty general thing. Everyone prepares before traveling…but as a CPAP therapy user, you need to have a few extra boxes in the checklist.
The best way to start preparing is to have a CPAP travel checklist. We made one for you!
Make sure to properly prepare your CPAP equipment before packing! Empty humidifier and make sure it’s fully dry, clean and sanitize CPAP equipment, check filters, power cord, adapters.
Inform yourself about flying with CPAP machine guidelines! Check out about FAA Compliance Letter for your CPAP machine, print it, and keep it with the CPAP machine.
Inform yourself about airport and airlines security procedures (TSA) for medical conditions, to confirm the procedures related to CPAP machines.
Inform your airline company in advance about your CPAP equipment. If possible, add that note when you’re buying the ticket, and if not, make sure to notify them at least 48 hours in advance.
Should you check your CPAP machine as baggage? You can do that, but it is not recommendable to do so. For start, it can be lost or damaged, and that leaves you with at least one night without your CPAP therapy…more importantly, TSA does not recommend this option. Instead, they recommend that you carry your CPAP with you on an airplane (as a carry-on). Here's what TSA has to say about it in their blog article from 2011: “Our officers are very familiar with CPAP machines and see them numerous times daily”, and then go on to say: “So here is how it all goes down. The CPAP machine will need to come out of its case and be placed in a bin prior to being sent through the X-ray, but the facemask and tubing can remain in the case. We realize the X-ray bins aren’t exactly sterile, so if you like, you can place your CPAP machine in a clear plastic bag before you put it in the bin. After your CPAP machine is X-rayed, it may need to undergo an Explosive Trace Detection test where a small white swab will be run over your machine and then analyzed for trace amounts of explosives.”.
So, bring your CPAP machine in its case as a carry-on, prepare to show appropriate documentation (already packed with your machine), pack your CPAP in a transparent bag so it remains clean when put in into x-ray bin (if airport officers want to take it out, demand that they use new, sterile gloves). Use the "Medical Device" tag for your CPAP bag to make it all simpler.
According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) (and all US airline companies are not allowed to count it as a carry-on, such as American Airlines), medical devices such as CPAP are not counted as carry-on or personal items, so you should not be worried about carrying it with you.
If you are bringing distilled water in your carry-on, you can bring a maximum of 3.4 ounces. You can carry unlimited distilled water in a checked bag.
All US airlines allow the use of CPAP machine during flight (if it's FAA approved device!) since it is considered a medical device. If you’re flying an international airline company, you should make sure to inquire about this, and we recommend inquiring at least 48 hours before the flight.
If you have some extra money, and you are a frequent traveler, do consider buying another smaller, portable CPAP machine for travel. They are convenient for use during travel as well… Such a good CPAP device is ResMed AirMini Portable CPAP, as it is portable and versatile, and it includes multiple therapy modes, waterless humidification, and convenient control with the AirMini app.
We wrote before about using your CPAP machine while camping, and it is worth mentioning that having a prescribed CPAP therapy shouldn’t in any way stop you from enjoying the outdoors sleeping experience. There are many solutions and accessories that will help you with this.
If you travel a long distance during the night and plan to sleep during the trip, make sure to book a seat that has a power plug next to it, so you can plug in your CPAP device. If not sure about power availability, make sure to contact the company directly to get more info on the options.