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How to Travel with a CPAP Machine

If you’ve just gotten a CPAP machine or are considering purchasing one, you might wonder how it will factor into future travel plans. For many people, sleep apnea is a significant health hazard, so going without their CPAP machine — even for a few days — is not an option. But even if you have a CPAP, you don’t have to swear off vacations altogether.

The truth is, people travel with CPAP machines every day. You can even use your device while you’re on a flight. You just have to know how to prepare.

Step 1: Get the Right Documentation

If you’re flying, it’s always a good idea to have a copy of your prescription with you. Ask your doctor to print off an extra copy that you can take in your wallet, just in case you need proof for the airline. It’s also important to have in the event that your CPAP malfunctions and you need an emergency replacement while you’re out of town.

You’ll also want to check your CPAP manufacturer’s website to make sure your model is FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) compliant. (An example of this kind of document can be found here.) If you want to be extra thorough, you can print off a copy and keep it with you.

Finally, if you plan to use your CPAP machine while in flight, check the airline’s website and review their policy. Most airlines will allow you to use the device while in flight as long as it’s FAA compliant. You can find a list of most major airline policies here.

Step 2: Pack Your CPAP

While you can check your CPAP as luggage, the TSA does not recommend it. Most CPAP machines are fairly durable, but there is always the risk of damage or loss. It’s much safer and simpler to bring it on the flight in its case. Since it is a medical device, airlines are not allowed to count a CPAP machine as one of your official allotted carry-on bags, so you’ll still be able to bring your regular carry-ons as well.

Another point to consider is whether your destination will be CPAP-friendly. If you’re staying in a hotel, it might be a good idea to bring an extension cord with you. Often, the electrical outlets nearest the beds are being used by lamps and clocks, so this gives you the ability to use an outlet further away.

If you are checking luggage, you may also want to pack distilled water for usage in your machine’s humidifier and for cleaning. You may not want to spend time searching for it while you’re on the go during your trip. (Remember that you cannot bring liquids over three ounces through airport security.)

Step 3: Enjoy Your Trip

If you’re going on an overnight flight and you’ve already checked all the relevant policies, you shouldn’t run into any issues using your CPAP while you sleep on the plane.

When staying in a hotel, the side tables are often short on space due to clocks, lamps, etc. One way to keep your CPAP machine nearby is to open the top drawer of the side table and place your device in it. If that is not an option, you can ask the hotel staff if they have a folding tray (typical of food service) you could use during your stay.

Don’t forget to keep your CPAP machine maintenance going while you’re out of town. The Sleep8 is a simple, easily packable solution for keeping your accessories fresh as part of your maintenance routine, even on the go. Its sleek design and sealable pouch make it easy to slide into nearly any suitcase, so you can take care of your mask, tubing and other accessories wherever you go.

Learn more about how Sleep8 works here.

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