Consider the Following Before Purchasing a Travel CPAP:
When it comes to finding your ideal travel machine, we think it’s important that you are armed with the knowledge to make the best purchasing decision for your specific sleep apnea therapy needs. For this reason, we’ve created a handy buying guide of things to consider when shopping for a travel-sized CPAP machine.
The very first thing you should consider is what situations you’ll most commonly be using your new CPAP machine in. Frequent and infrequent travelers have different needs; some people may want a dedicated travel machine while others may simply prefer a bedside unit that happens to be easy to travel with.
Most dedicated travel CPAP machines are FAA-approved for in-flight use, but more traditional units may not be. Someone who does more camping than flying may prefer a more barebones unit that’s simple to operate when off-the-grid over a machine with more bells and whistles.
In terms of pricing, travel CPAP machines are typically more affordable than their full-sized counterparts—though you can still expect to spend around $600 to $900 for a compact machine from a reputable brand. Many of these travel machines pack in as much value as they can, and in comparison to your bedside unit (especially if both machines are from the same manufacturer), most travel machines will feature the same or similar comfort features. They will also commonly include a travel case or pouch as well as any power accessories you’ll need to get it running. Most travel machines will also let you use the same mask as your home machine, saving you some money on an additional mask or tubing.
Since you can’t buy a CPAP machine without a prescription, you may have already talked with your healthcare provider about the best equipment for your needs. Whether there are specific machine settings or comfort features you require or there’s a particular mask style that works best for you, be sure that the machine you’re considering will be able to deliver the therapy you deserve.
CPAP technology has come a long way in reducing the sound level of portable CPAP machines, and most modern devices are only slightly noisier than their full-sized counterparts. Some machines, like the HDM Z2 and Transcend Micro, even include tube mufflers for a more whisper-quiet experience. Some owners report that their travel machines, while quiet, do operate at a higher pitch than their home machine, but most people find themselves easily drifting to sleep with a brief adjustment period or a good pair of earplugs. If you prefer to sleep with a bit of sound anyway, you might find that your travel CPAP machine doubles as a dreamy white noise machine, too!
If you’ve been using CPAP therapy at home on a different device, there’s a good chance that your travel CPAP machine will give you a different experience. Due to size constraints and engineering hurdles, a pressure setting on your bedside unit may not behave the same way on a travel machine. Even if both are set to 12 cm H2O, the experience still may be different.
For this reason, we recommend traveling with an APAP machine. It’s much easier to let the machine react to your needs rather than relying on a set pressure that may not be enough for you at the moment or feels weaker from your travel machine.
Comfort Features (Ramp, AutoStart, Pressure Relief, etc.)
Outside of doctor’s recommendations, you may personally prefer or even require specific comfort settings such as ramp or auto start/stop. Be sure that the machine you’re considering has the features that are most important to you for a restful sleep apnea therapy experience.
This also applies to humidifier usage; if you’re someone who requires a standard humidifier or if you’re traveling to a drier climate where you might need one, your options will decrease. However, if you’re content with utilizing waterless humidification, you can save yourself from having to pack distilled water and travel lighter in the process.
If data tracking is essential to you, you might consider a more high-tech option with real-time reporting to the machine’s compatible cellphone app. Keep in mind that some travel machines can’t sync or view data until you’re back home with your PC.
Accessories for a travel CPAP device include things like external batteries for charging or operating your machine, a travel case or carrying bag to protect your equipment, tubing or mask adapters (such as the Zephair Universal AirMini Adapter), or waterless humidification devices (heat moisture exchange units). When you decide on your travel machine budget, be sure to factor in the cost of any additional travel accessories you’d like as well.
Most travel machines have a two-year warranty, though there are some longer and shorter exceptions. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty for your device to be clear on whether or not it protects you in situations you may find yourself in while traveling.
As we mentioned earlier, most travel CPAP machines are FAA-approved and TSA-friendly, though it never hurts to double-check with the manufacturer’s specifications. Some airlines will also have different rules/requirements than others, so be sure to inquire about any policies they may have regarding CPAP machine use in flight.
Most machines can run off of outlets in almost any country with the appropriate travel plug adapter. Still, it’s always a good idea to be familiar with where you’re traveling and the power draw of your machine. For camping and off-the-grid activities like RV travel, it’s also important to know if you’ll need to add any adapters or inverters to your CPAP setup.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Do Travel CPAP Machines Cost?
Cheaper travel CPAP machines start in the neighborhood of $600 and can be as expensive as $1,200. On average, you’ll spend about $800 for a quality travel machine.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of a Travel CPAP Machine?
While it’s always encouraged to check these specifics with your insurance company, many will not cover the cost of a travel CPAP.
Can I Use a Regular Mask With My Travel CPAP?
In most cases, yes! Most travel machines will include a hose or mask adapter or be universally compatible. We also offer additional adapters to work around some machine restrictions.
Can I Use a Travel CPAP at Home?
Yes! A travel CPAP machine is perfectly capable of delivering quality therapy as a full-time home unit. It is worth noting, however, that parts in your travel machine may wear more or show their age more quickly than on a larger unit. You should also consider how important a suite of comfort features is to you, as travel machines may not have the same capabilities in that regard.
Can I Use a Travel CPAP In-Flight?
Yes! If a device is FAA-approved, then you can use it during the flight as long as you meet the requirements of your airliner. Examples of some requirements would be requiring a 48-hour approval notice before the flight or requiring a separate CPAP battery with a capacity equal to or greater than 150% of the expected flight time. Check with your airline for more details.
Wherever and however you’ll be traveling, there is a compact CPAP machine suitable for your trip! Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice a good night’s sleep without proper sleep apnea therapy on your next adventure.
Remember: The best travel CPAP machine is the one that will give you a therapy experience that’s closest to what you’re used to getting at home. Traveling can disrupt the usual cadence and rhythm of our lives, initiating a stress response in the body. By finding a semi-familiar product that will help you maintain your CPAP routine on the go, you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthier and happier trip overall.