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"Where in the world is Kristen and her CPAP?" Part Three: Austria

Kristen Cascio is a CPAP user from the United States who has a never-ending sense of wanderlust. In this series, Kristen will share her experiences traveling the world while managing her obstructive sleep apnea, one destination at a time. Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.

Adventures in Europe

Springtime in Austria is a magical time where the flowers are in bloom, the mountain views are as gorgeous as ever, and if you are lucky, you will catch a traditional May Day event.

In May 2023 my husband, a friend, and I traveled to Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Vienna. We also planned to take a train to Munich, Germany for their local Springfest beer festival, but most of our trip was spent in Austria.

Sleeping on the plane

Like most flights from the east coast of the United States to Europe, we flew overnight. I have successfully used a portable CPAP battery on previous overnight flights, but for some reason I could not get comfortable when settling in to sleep this time. I usually put the CPAP under my feet but this row was very tight on legroom and I kept fussing with my mask. Eventually, I decided it was not worth the hassle and I got a few hours of sleep without my machine.

Trouble at security

As it turns out, I was in for another CPAP-related problem once I landed in London Heathrow for a layover before boarding the next flight to Vienna. I have small, sealed bottles of distilled water that are TSA-compliant but, of course, other countries do not have to follow what TSA allows. I have never had trouble bringing one or two of these bottles in my carry-on when flying internationally; typically, the security agent tests the water in a machine and sends me on my way.

Unfortunately, this time the security supervisor would not allow it without a prescription for the water or a letter of medical necessity from my doctor. I had never heard of that before, so I did not have anything to show her. Cut to: Two expensive bottles of distilled water in the trash.

Scarce supplies

I never have luck finding distilled water once I reach my destination, and this trip was no different. I visited 3 different cities on the trip and was unable to locate distilled water for sale at any store. This was a lesson learned for me; once I got home, I asked for a letter from my sleep physician which I have printed and stored in my CPAP case. I can not guarantee that another international destination will accept the letter, but at least I will be more prepared in the future.

If anybody has tips for finding distilled water while traveling, please let me know!

Sights and sounds


We started our trip in Salzburg, the city with memorable mountain views that most people associate with “The Sound of Music”, a movie that I have never seen! We had a hotel that was located in the cobblestone streets off of the city center. We spent the morning on our first day exploring the grounds of Mirabell Gardens before touring Stiegl Brewing, a brewery that has been in operation since 1492.

The next day happened to be a national holiday, May Day. We located a festival in a local neighborhood and watched as 20 men worked for hours to hoist the May Pole into the festival grounds. We took a day  trip to the small village of Hallstatt, made unexpectedly popular thanks to Instagram, where I am also guilty of finding out about it.


After completing our stay in Salzburg, it was on to Vienna. Vienna has been named the “World’s Most Liveable City” in 2022 and 2023, and I can see why. The sprawling city is simple to navigate through a robust infrastructure of public transportation.

Highlights include the Sigmund Freud Museum (located in his old home), the Austrian National Library with baroque paintings covering the ceiling, and several palaces and gardens. After doing some digging online, I discovered that Vienna has heurigers, aka “wine taverns” in the Grinzinger neighborhood which is accessible by public transportation from the city center. These family-owned taverns serve wine that is produced onsite. We spent an evening in the garden courtyard of a heurgier, drinking local wine while being surround by wisteria, my favorite flower!

My favorite things

While I am lucky to have many memories to share from my trips, I would like to share my “FAVE” list, standing for “food”, “activity”, “view”, and “experience.”

Kristen’s Austria “FAVEs”

F: I had my first giant soft pretzel of the trip at Stiegl Brewery, so it holds a special place in my heart.
A: I am a psychology nerd, so I loved visiting the Sigmund Freud Museum.
V: The views at the top of Untersberg Mountain was worth the very steep cable car ride to the summit.
E: The May Day festival was an unexpected experience; I had no idea we would be attending one when planning the trip. We were lucky that although there was rain in the forecast, the day was beautifully sunny.

Worth the effort

Despite some initial bumps with my CPAP on this trip, I quickly got back into my routine once I checked-into our first hotel. Using my CPAP always allows me to experience life more fully, especially while traveling.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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