Alaska Sleep Education Center

Don't Let CPAP Ruin Your Travel Plans

Posted by Julia Higginson on Dec 8, 2019 1:54:00 PM

AdobeStock_53762963.jpegTravel can tempt you to not be compliant with your CPAP therapy. The overwhelming idea of packing and bringing your equipment with you can make you want to skip your CPAP while you are away.

Foregoing your CPAP therapy can be dangerous. Sleep apnea will occur whether you are on your dream vacation or at home. Without your CPAP machine, you run the risk of experiencing all the unwanted and sometimes even dangerous effects of untreated sleep apnea.

The good news is that traveling with your CPAP machine doesn’t have to be burden. There are several options, including travel-sized CPAP machines that can make it easier for you to travel.

One concern you might have while traveling is the ease of electricity use if you are traveling someplace different. Follow our guide to electricity and CPAP safety to make your travels smooth and pleasant.

Domestic travel

Most travel happens domestically. Domestic travel comes with less worry about electricity problems.

Sometimes, you may encounter hotels that do not have electrical outlets close enough to your bed for you to plug in your machine. Packing an extension cord can help you make sure that your machine is right where you need it. Make sure the extension cord you choose can handle the right voltage for your machine.

Make sure your CPAP humidifier chamber is below the level of your head if you plan to sleep in any unusual conditions, like sleeping on the ground or in a hammock. Having your humidifier chamber below the level of your head prevents the rare chance that the water can be blown into your lungs.

Unsteady movement, a tipped machine, or tugging on the hose can also cause your machine to back up water. Make sure you steady your CPAP machine so its not a danger to you while you sleep.

Foreign travel

Foreign travel will pose many of the same issue as domestic travel. You need to make sure your machine is secure and at the right level as you sleep.

You most likely will also encounter problems with your machine’s cords not matching with foreign electrical outlets. Find out ahead of time what kind of electrical outlets and what the voltage of electrical outlets are available to you.

You may need to pack adapters and cables that you need to safely hook your machine up. Especially in countries where electrical voltage is metered differently. If you use the wrong adaptors or voltage you run the risk of damaging your CPAP machine and voiding its warranty.

Unreliable electricity

Your travels might take you to areas with bad weather that might make electricity unreliable. Or perhaps you are traveling to someplace remote where power outages or rolling brown-outs are common.

Unreliable electricity can make using your CPAP problematic. One option to avoid the complications of unreliable electricity is to invest in or rent a travel CPAP machine with a backup battery. A back-up battery will ensure your machine will run even if the electricity goes out.

AdobeStock_117602423-2.jpegYou can power your CPAP machine using a special power cord adapter that plugs right into one of your car’s electricity ports if you will be traveling or sleeping in your car.

A few options for travel CPAP machines are the Transcend Travel CPAP Machine, the Z1 Travel CPAP Machine, Phillips Respironics Dream Station GO, and the Resmed Airmini.

The Transcend operates uses a lightweight battery which lasts several nights; it includes a compact solar charger for battery recharging during the day when the machine is not in use. 

The Z1 is quiet and has an optional integrated battery making it easy to use when no electricity is available.

If you plan on traveling off the power grid, DreamStation Go’s overnight battery can help you stay committed to your therapy.

The newly released ResMed AirMini is the world's smallest CPAP. which makes it easy to fit in your travel plans. An external battery pack is under development since the model is still so new.


Other travel issues

You might encounter problems with your CPAP machine if you are traveling to higher altitudes. Find out if your CPAP machine includes automatic altitude adjustment settings. If your not sure, call your CPAP company or your sleep doctor to figure out how to manually adjust your settings for higher altitudes.

Extreme temperatures can also affect how your machine works. Air temperatures of less than 55°F or in very hot conditions can make using your CPAP unsafe.

The reason why is that your machine draws in the air from around you. The air will remain at the same temperature as the air around you. Extreme air temperatures can make your body core temperature too low, which results in CPAP-related hypothermia or too high, which results in heat stroke.

Another travel related worry is what to do if your CPAP machine stops working or if equipment becomes broken. Call your medical equipment provider to find out if there are options to get replacement machines or equipment while you are out of town.

Traveling with a CPAP machine doesn’t have to be a pain. Just educate yourself ahead of time so that you can have a worry-free trip.

We know that traveling with your CPAP device can make it difficult to travel. If you want to know more about travel sized CPAP machines, check out our recommendations. 

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Topics: CPAP compliance, obstructive sleep apnea, CPAP

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