Summer travel can be stressful, especially in crowded places like airports and busy roads. For people who have sleep apnea, hot weather and big crowds add another layer of difficulty to the everyday ordeal of trying to get a good night’s sleep and wake up rested and ready to start a busy day. When you add a CPAP machine to the formula, especially on planes, the planning gets even trickier. That is no reason to leave your CPAP machine at home. In fact, traveling may easier than you think, but there are a few things you need to know.
Seven Things to Do Before You Leave Home
As tempting as it may be, don’t leave your machine behind when you fly, not even for a short trip. The good news is that CPAP machines are considered by airlines to be medical devices under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and they do not count as carry-on items. Besides, it is less likely to get lost if you bring it on the plane with you. If your machine is relatively new, it is likely to be lightweight and come in its own case, which makes it easier to bring along. If you have equipment that is bulky or hard to travel with, you might consider buying a travel-friendly CPAP machine, especially if you fly a lot.
- If you are going camping or suspect the electrical power might go out, buy a battery pack to use as a backup.
- If you are traveling to a foreign country, check to see if your CPAP machine has a universal power supply that adapts to different voltage levels, and take along plugs and adaptors just in case you need them.
- Pack extra cushions and any other supplies you might need.
- If you need to wear your CPAP on a long flight, check to see if you will have access to electrical power.
- Keep the necessary information handy in case your equipment fails or you need supplies while you are on the road. Ask your sleep clinic for references, or check online to see what providers will be in your area if you need assistance.
- If your machine gets lost or breaks, call a supplier in the vicinity or back at home. Chances are that one of them will rent or loan equipment to get you through the vacation.
- Be sure that the humidifier compartment is dry before you pack. You don’t want wet bags or damaged supplies.
Seven Things to Know about Flying with a CPAP Machine
- Most TSA agents know about CPAP machines and need no explanation. To be on the safe side, label the case with a medical equipment luggage tag.
- To make x-raying your CPAP faster and easier, take it out of the case and put it in a screening bin.
- The TSA agent may need to check for residue from explosives. Feel free to ask the person doing the checking to use a clean pair of gloves and fresh swab to prevent the spread of germs.
- Another option is to put the equipment in a clear plastic Ziploc bag before you put it in the bin.
- Keep the information about your machine and your medical prescription nearby when checking your bags.
- Bring any accessories, such as a battery pack, adapters, or bottled water, that you need on the plane.
- Some airlines require at least a 48-hour notice to confirm that your CPAP machine meets the FAA rules and regulations. You may also need a label saying the CPAP machine meets FAA standards.
What to Know about Camping with a CPAP Machine
If you are camping, consider buying a CPAP machine that is light and portable. Some even come with very batteries that last more than one night or a folding solar charger for charging the machine during the day.
Going on vacation is no excuse for leaving your CPAP machine behind, and needing your CPAP is no reason not to go on vacation. You and your family will have a better time if you are rested and ready for the next adventure.