No matter the mode of transportation that you take, traveling with CPAP can be a fairly routine and simple process if you follow a few guidelines and prepare. If you are an avid traveler, you might want to have a smaller, lightweight CPAP machine to be used exclusively while you are on the road as well as at home. Let’s look at those guidelines and preparations for the different environments you will find yourself in when you travel with CPAP.
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Flying with CPAP
There are a few things to do ahead of time to prepare to fly with your CPAP.
Bring a copy of your prescription or a Letter of Medical Necessity provided by your physician. While not required, it may be useful in proving your need for the CPAP if ever in question. Secure a travel letter from your physician or CPAP provider certifying your need for CPAP treatment.
Other things to do include bringing:
- Your health insurance details.
- Your general practitioner information.
- Your sleep specialist contact information.
- Your mask type and size (in case of loss or other complication).
- Your treatment pressure settings.
Since airport security will need to scan your CPAP machine, wrap it in clear plastic to avoid contamination as it is handled and travels along the conveyor during the X-ray process. Since your CPAP machine is classified as medical equipment and does not count towards your carry-on bag total, always bring it onboard with you. This will ensure that it will not be lost, stolen or damaged. Just as a precaution, put your contact info inside the bag.
Cars, Boats, RVs, and Trucks
Traveling long distances by car, truck or RV as well as being on the water is not a problem for CPAP users as the DC connection on your CPAP machine will allow you to run it off of a 12 volt battery using a standard cigarette lighter socket. You may need to purchase the DC cord for your particular machine as an additional item.
Always be sure that the vehicle battery is well charged before the trip so as not to end up with a dead battery. In addition, you shouldn’t run your CPAP machine more than a couple of nights in a row without driving the vehicle to allow the alternator to recharge the battery.
Having a quality battery pack is a must for the traveler with CPAP. This will come in handy if you’re a camper or as emergency backup if you lose power wherever you go. All of the available battery packs have a standard cigarette lighter socket that is used along with the specific 12 volt DC power cord designed for your CPAP machine. If you choose to run your equipment on battery power, it is highly recommended to bring a spare battery.
Hotels & Motels
If by some slim chance your hotel does not have an outlet close to the bed, the front desk can usually accommodate you with an extension cord. If you plan on staying in motels, bring an extension cord as they may not have additional cords at the front desk.
For most domestic flights, you likely won’t be in the air so long that you will need to sleep onboard the plane. For international travel though, you should get pre-approval from your chosen airline’s medical services to use your machine inflight as well as check on any restrictions. For instance, many airlines do not allow humidifiers to be used inflight.
Most CPAP machines made in the last few years have the ability to automatically detect the voltage of the electrical current (for example: 110VAC vs. 220VAC) and switch to the appropriate one. You will likely need a plug adapter to put on the end of your CPAP power cord to allow it to fit into the foreign power outlet.
That should about do it for being prepared for travel with CPAP. Now, get out there and see the world.