Having sleep apnea can be challenging enough without the added hassle of traveling. Even if you’re looking forward to a much-deserved vacation, the idea of packing all your CPAP equipment may make you groan. Whether you’re going on a road trip for a family vacation or flying to the beach for a retirement celebration, it’s important to bring your CPAP set-up with you—and these traveling with CPAP tips can help.
In one study, over 16% of people surveyed said one of the biggest challenges of traveling with a sleep disorder is traveling with their CPAP machine. The traveling with CPAP tips included in this article are designed to make traveling with your CPAP machine easier, even before you hit the road or board the plane.
Before You Go
There are several things you can do or bring—even in the planning period of booking your trip—that will make traveling with your CPAP equipment almost as breezy as the beach. In addition to packing the essentials, here’s a few items we recommend:
Pick a Seat With Accessible Power
If you’re taking an overnight flight, hop on Seat Guru to help you find a spot with power access so you can use your CPAP machine at 30,000 feet. Wheels up and sweet dreams—but first, make sure your airline has approved in-flight use for your CPAP machine.
Review Airline Policies for In-Flight Use
Most CPAP equipment is eligible for in-flight use, but you may need to provide notice to the airline beforehand if you plan to use your device on board. Some airlines require a 48 hour notice (minimum) to use your equipment on board so they can verify the model meets FAA standards and regulations. For your convenience, here’s the policies for American Airlines, United, Frontier, and JetBlue.
Take Your Prescription
In case the TSA agent requests additional confirmation for your CPAP machine, it’s helpful to have your CPAP prescription with you. This can be helpful, too, in the event that your machine becomes damaged or lost and you need to immediately replace it.
What to Pack
In addition to your toothbrush and cell phone charger, there are a few other can’t-miss items you’ll need to bring (or that are at least nice to have). Know that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are permitted to bring your CPAP machine on the plane. You can pack your CPAP equipment in your checked luggage if you wish, but many prefer to bring their CPAP device with them on the plane, even if they won’t be using it during the flight.
Stow a Couple Extra Cushions
Even if you just opened a new cushion for your trip, you don’t want to be caught without one in case the original cushion becomes damaged or lost in transit. Tuck a couple extra cushions in your suitcase just in case so you can rest easy that you’re prepared for anything, even luggage lost at your connection.
Take a Destination-Appropriate Adapter
If you’re traveling overseas, you’ll likely need an adapter to continue your sleep apnea treatment since most CPAP machines feature a two-prong format that won’t work in many countries outside of the United States. Depending where you are going, the adapter you will need will vary. Check the outlet type of the country you’re visiting, then buy and pack the appropriate adapter. You might want to bring an extension cord if it fits in your suitcase, too, since you may not know the layout of the space you’ll be staying in and the outlet could be a fair distance from the bed.
Bring a Back-Up Battery Pack
Stash a back-up battery pack with your belongings (especially if you’ll be far from home) just in case—you never know if the hotel will lose power for several hours overnight. If you’re going camping, you’ll definitely want a back-up battery pack so you have the portable power you need.
Consider Your Comfort
There’s no place like home, but there are certain items you can take with you to make your adventure more comfortable. Ergonomic items like the OstrichPillow Go Travel Pillow or the Mini Core Travel CPAP Pillow use soft but durable memory foam and other plush materials to give your neck the support it needs as you travel, plus we stock a variety of travel bags and cases, sound machines, travel wipes, and more. If you travel often, you may benefit from a travel-sized CPAP machine, which is designed to be compact and ultra-quiet.
Additional Traveling With CPAP Tips
Whether you’re traveling for the first time since being diagnosed with sleep apnea or simply haven’t vacationed in awhile, here are a couple CPAP travel hacks you may find useful:
Bring or Buy Distilled Water
If you use a humidifier, you know you’ll need water—but you may not know the best place to get the water you need. Instead of using water from the restroom at a rest stop or in the airport, you’ll want to use bottled water. You can bring it with you or buy it as you go, whichever you prefer.
Don’t Forget About Altitude Changes
Even without sleep apnea, going from a lower altitude to a higher altitude can leave you feeling out of breath. And for people with sleep apnea, higher altitudes can make breathing more difficult. Talk with your sleep care physician before your trip to see if adjustments need to be made to your current CPAP settings (never change your pressure settings without guidance from your doctor). While you’re on your trip, be sure to drink plenty of water and aim to keep your same sleep routine from home.
We hope these traveling with CPAP tips make your next trip go more smoothly so you can get the R&R you deserve. Traveling with CPAP equipment does require a little extra planning, but by the time you’re watching the sun rise over the ocean from a bougainvillea-covered bungalow, you’ll probably have forgotten about it.
Have any traveling with CPAP tips to share? Drop them in the comments below!