Travelling Through Airports with CPAP

Finally - travel is on the horizon, after the long pandemic. You’ve heard about airlines’ rules on masks. But what about CPAP?

Planning ahead makes travel a less stressful and smoother experience. This is particularly so if you suffer with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and are using CPAP therapy as treatment. Whether you are travelling for business or for leisure, it is important to adhere to the treatment course when staying away from home.

Just a single night without CPAP can impact negatively on blood pressure level as well as deprive you of good-quality sleep to recharge your body. Adhering to the treatment when travelling will help you receive better rest and feel more refreshed.

Travelling By Plane

If your trip involves a flight, taking your CPAP machine should not be an issue. Rather than risk damage by packing the machine in your baggage, you should be able to carry it on to the plane in a separate bag. This will not count as one of your carry-on items as it is classed as a medical machine.

However, for peace of mind, it can be worthwhile to double-check the airline’s policy in advance. You can also check with the airline on the availability and accessibility of power sockets if your flight is a long one and you expect to sleep at some point.

Airport security staff should be aware of your therapy machine. Keep in mind, different airports may have different security screening methods, which may involve an x-ray or possibly a swab for explosives. Such an examination may be performed without the need to remove the machine from its carry bag, but if this is not possible it will be placed in a plastic bag for the purpose. 

It can be a good idea to travel with a letter from your doctor explaining about the need for your machine and how it is required to treat your OSA. This can act as insurance against issues when going through an airport where staff may not be as aware of these devices.

Packing for Your Trip

A little thought needs to be extended to your destination when travelling too if you suffer with sleep apnea. Most CPAP machines can run on other voltages thanks to a built-in ‘switch mode’. Check your machine has this facility before travelling or pack an outlet adapter just in case.

If your travelling has extra elements, such as a cruise or overnight train or bus journey, you should check to ensure power sockets are available to run your machine. An extension cord can be a useful item to pack, in case you arrive at your hotel and find the power sockets are nowhere near the bed. For those with a device using a humidifier, you need to check whether the local water is safe to use, and if not then use distilled water instead.

Extras to Pack

As well as your letter from your doctor certifying your treatment plan, some further documentation may be carried in case of a medical issue while away. These include:

  • Contact details for your doctor and the supplier of your device’s equipment
  • Notes on treatment information such as mask type and pressure setting
  • Health insurance details

Besides documentation there are some essential components for which you should pack extras. These include:

  • Tubing
  • Filters
  • Wipes to clean equipment parts
  • Mask cushions

If you are going to be away for a considerable period of time you may also want to take a spare mask. Sourcing a comfortable mask while away can be difficult, although by carrying the contact details of your equipment supplier you may be able to have one sent out to you if urgently required.

Don’t Forget to Enjoy Your Travel!

Holidays are fun and something to look forward to. With a little careful planning there is no need to let your obstructive sleep apnea get in the way of an enjoyable time away. Even if you are just going away for a night on business, it is still important to adhere to your treatment plan.

CPAP machines like the AirMini and Dreamstation are small, portable and specifically designed for travel. This makes compliance much easier when staying away from home. 

By ensuring the conditions are in place to operate your device, you can carry on having undisturbed nights of sleep when away. This will see you waking up feeling fresh, without the worry of your OSA symptoms returning.