Travel with CPAP doesn't have to be stressful. Here's the ten best ways to prepare your sleep apnea machine, hoses, masks power supplies for your trip. Plus a packing checklist so you don't forget anything. And just in case you're wondering if you should bring your portable breathing device along at all, I've included 6 great reasons to take your device with you.
Positive airway pressure machines now come in smaller sizes than older ones did. You can pack yours up and bring it with you if you have a good carry bag for it and its accessories.
If your machine is bigger, or if you travel more than once in a blue moon, you should have a spare for travel all packed up and ready to go.
All of these now come in travel sizes
There are travel CPAPs that come in the
size and shape of soda cans or smart phones. But like many electronics the smaller it is, the more it costs. Fortunately there are portable CPAP machines that cost much less.
One good choice is the XT Fit CPAP Machine. It’s the size of a tiny clock radio. It comes with a carrying bag for it and all its stuff. Like most CPAP machines now, it can deal with international voltages. The heated humidifier is optional.
Modern CPAP and BPAP/BiPAP machines
automatically adjust their settings for altitude. If you are bringing an older
machine, talk to your manufacturer about how to make manual adjustments. Consider
a prescription for acetazolamide, especially if you will be going to
progressively higher altitudes. Mountain climbers without pre-existing sleep
apnea use it.
Don’t forget your power cord
As with phone chargers, people can forget this at home. And don’t leave it behind when you move from destination to destination.
Your bedside table may be too far away from the electrical outlet on the wall.
Most modern CPAP, BPAP, and APAP machines work on 110V AC current (North America) and 220V or 240V AC current (overseas). Check your manual. You will need an international adaptor to plug your power cord into the wall. Here's a list of countries and the plug and socket types that are used there.
Lithium ion batteries are light and portable. Some CPAP machines have solar chargers built in. Older CPAP machines may need an inverter/converter. Many portable CPAP machines can run on the cigarette lighter in a vehicle but you need the correct DC power cord. Check your manual to find out what your options are.
If some of your important parts are damaged or wear
out, you may not have an easy time replacing them. Bring spares. You also need
to keep up your CPAP cleaning regime.
Bring spares in case a filter is damaged or the gets clogged up with dust or smoke.
Your mask cushions may not last as long in a different climate, so bring spares. Bring mask liners to avoid “mask face” in another climate even if you don’t need them at home.
Spare mask and tubing
Bring a spare mask and a spare hose tube. You might step on your mask in a dark room or a tent! You might get rips in your hose. Bring parts you have replaced if you can’t buy new spares just for the trip. A roll of duct tape is also a good idea.
Always have a copy of your doctor’s prescription for your PAP on your phone, on paper, and in a cloud account. Do the same for all your other prescriptions!
better to just leave it at home. If you must have it, keep your destination’s
climate in mind and take
measures to prevent “rainout” (condensation in the tube).
Considerations for travel
1/ It adds weight and bulk
2/ It may not be completely dry between destinations
is really the way to go. You could have a stroke or a car accident if you leave
your treatment at home. There aren’t many useful alternatives.
These are only useful for some OSA patients, and then only in combination with CPAP. The strap keeps your mouth closed, and, many sleep apnea patients can’t breathe very well through their noses without their CPAP. You could try it in combination with nose strips though. Don’t make this your vacation alternative without trying it at home first!
This is your best option for a short term vacation from CPAP. This is easy to use on a plane, doesn’t involve equipment or complicated maintenance, doesn’t need electricity, fits in your purse, is convenient for camping. Try it at home before you rely on it as your travel solution!
You may not think
to bring all the spare parts you may end up needing. You may even forget your
CPAP entirely! It’s happened to people.
Have a list of your machine part numbers and the contact details for your supplier or manufacturer. Some manufacturers will even ship what you need to where you are.
If you are
bringing a laptop on your trip, you can also bring along software to analyze
changes in your sleep patterns. This is especially useful if you are going to a
different altitude than what you are used to. One popular program is called Sleepyhead. Your CPAP stores data on a SD card. A few CPAP
machines use a micro SD card, which means you could use the software on a tablet.
Figure out how to use this before you leave home,
You can now find good travel masks in the full face, nasal,
and nasal pillow types.
What to look for:
It’s all about pre-planning! Practice with your travel gear. Get your paperwork together. Print out a copy to carry with you, keep a photo of it on your phone, and add it to your cloud storage so you can find it anywhere.
This downloadable PDF will help you prepare and pack for your trip. It has space for you to record:
Because Sleep Apnea Doesn’t Take Holidays.
Traveling with CPAP devices is something you need to learn to do, like it or not. CPAP is not a cure for sleep apnea. It’s a treatment, like insulin is for diabetics. When you don’t use it, your apnea events and poor quality sleep will return. So will the drop in blood oxygen level that affects every cell and organ in your body including your brain.
Also make sure you take along medication for any other sleep difficulties that you might have.
Studies show that taking time off from CPAP can increase your risk of having a car accident. If you are going to be driving on unfamiliar roads, maybe in an unfamiliar car, your trip is not a good time to take a vacation from CPAP.
Using your CPAP will keep your energy up so you can enjoy your holiday. This energy comes from having a good sleep and from having healthy oxygen levels in your body.
Existing medical conditions
Avoiding the drop in blood oxygen levels is especially important if you have related health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or a compromised immune system.
Using your CPAP is especially important it you will be visiting a high altitude. Oxygen levels are lower. Your body makes adjustments to your heart rate and respiration rate in a process known as acclimatization. Even with acclimatization, people who don’t even have sleep apnea at a lower altitude can experience it here.
If you keep your partner, roommate, or a plane full of people awake with your snorts and gasps, you will ruin their sleep and energy too.