Traveling With Your CPAP
Last updated: May 2023
Traveling with your continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine doesn’t have to be hard, but it does need to be done. Not sure if you really want to drag your CPAP along??? Remember that time when the power went out and you couldn’t use your CPAP? That feeling of exhaustion, possibly morning headaches. Yeah, me too! And the reason I will ALWAYS bring my CPAP when I travel. These are my tips for traveling with CPAP.
Think of your CPAP like your medication – you wouldn’t leave home without it, so why would you leave your CPAP home? When traveling with your CPAP, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. Where will you be staying? How are you traveling? How long are you going to be away?
Important items you don’t want to forget
First off, the most important thing you will need is your travel CPAP bag. You know, that bag that came with your CPAP machine that you never thought you would use so you stored it safely in the back of your closet. Yes, that bag.
I always keep an extension cord in my CPAP bag. The reason is, I have stayed in several hotel rooms where the plug is not always close to the nightstand. And nowadays we have our phones that need to be plugged in, so that takes a plug. I like to pack my medicine and sleeping mask in my CPAP bag, this way I have everything together.
Where are you staying?
Now, the reason you need to think about where you're staying is for the plug. Yes, if you're traveling to another country it will be important to do the research to see what plug adapter you will need. You can Google this and get your plug adapter on Amazon. Most importantly, put your adapter in your CPAP bag.
If you are traveling by car, I always like to bring my gallon of distilled water. If you're traveling by air, this is not possible. The TSA will not allow you to bring water on the plane. What I do is use bottled water that I can easily get once I get to my destination.
Tips for flying with a CPAP
Put your mask in a Ziploc bag
When traveling with your CPAP on a plane, the most important thing I have found is putting my mask in a Ziploc bag. The reason is when you go through security they usually have you open your bag and remove the motor portion of your CPAP. I have had patients have pieces and parts go missing after they have put their open CPAP bag through the security belt. By keeping your mask in a Ziploc bag, the TSA agents can see what is inside without having to touch your mask.
Know that your CPAP is a medical device
Also, make sure to have a luggage tag on your CPAP. Remember, your CPAP is a medical device, and it states that on the bottom of your CPAP in case you are asked what it is. I was surprised that some TSA agents had no idea what my CPAP was. With that being said, because it is a medical device, it should not count as a carry-on.
Stow it in front of your feet
I usually travel with my suitcase, CPAP machine, and purse. I ALWAYS keep my CPAP stowed in front of my feet, just like I do with my purse. I used to put it in the overhead bin until I had an experience where it was moved and I couldn’t find it. Talk about panic! There's nothing more stressful than thinking you lost your CPAP while on vacation. You know, the time you will most likely be wanting good sleep.
How long will you be gone?
It’s always a good idea to know how long you will be gone so you can pack the proper cleaning items. If I am going to be away for just a week, I’ll be sure to pack my CPAP travel wipes. They are used to wipe down my mask.
For this short period of time, I don’t stress about cleaning my tube or water chamber. I do ALWAYS make sure to fill my chamber at night and dump the unused water in the morning. If I plan to be away longer than a week, then I make sure to pack travel-size baby shampoo to clean my CPAP supplies while I'm away.
Interested in reading more tips for traveling with CPAP and managing life with sleep apnea? Explore our featured collection of tips and tricks for CPAP users.
What themes would you like to see your fellow community members write about?