Packing to travel can be a pain if you have to include a CPAP/BiPAP in your luggage. No matter how tall you are, the CPAP is just one more thing to lug around. At the same time, you need to keep this expensive medical equipment safe from damage. It helps you breathe while sleeping, so no matter where you are, you will always need your CPAP. Otherwise, even just one night without it can mean a really groggy, grumpy day to say the least.
I prefer to put the CPAP in a hard sided luggage and check it in with the other luggage, but this does add some risk if your bag does not show up on time. If you choose to pack your CPAP as carry-on luggage and go through security, be prepared to have them touch all the parts that go into your nose/mouth, etc. Since it’s a medical device, it should not be counted as one of your personal carry-on luggage. My husband usually asks them to change gloves before examining the CPAP so there’s no cross contamination. However, lately they the airlines seem to have relaxed their policies around CPAPs. We remove the CPAP case from the carry-on, place it in the bin, and they haven’t questioned it.
If you consider packing it in your luggage versus as a carry on, try to pack clothing around it even if you have a hard case luggage. Packing it tightly with your clothing would help prevent it from being tossed around so much. I usually pack it at the bottom (the part that is the bottom when standing upright) towards the wheels. It’s going to most likely be the heaviest part of your luggage, so it helps to keep it there.
Whether you’re sleeping at a friend’s house or vacationing at a resort hotel, you never know what set up you’ll need for your CPAP. Here are some things we keep with our CPAP machines:
- CPAP mask bag: Keeping the mask clean is a must. After all, the mask goes directly onto your face, being exposed your eyes, nose, and mouth. The ResMed masks used to come with a nice cloth pouch, but they no longer include them! So we have been reusing our cloth bags from years ago.
- Spare filters: You never know when one will fall out or just be dirty.
- Mini power strip: This allows for enough room for your CPAP and other devices to be charged without spreading them around the room. Dwarf Dad also really likes the Hug-A-Plug Outlet Splitter. It works especially well for hotel rooms where they provide one power outlet on a lamp or clock radio; plug this in and you now have sockets for your CPAP and cell phone.
- Flashlight with lantern feature: A lantern feature on a flashlight is especially helpful for needing a standing light.
- USB cable and USB charger: Don’t forget one without the other. We like the Anker PowerLine cables and the Anker PowerPort Wall Charger.
- Mini folding step stool: You never know when you need just 4–6″ of height to reach something like those high hotel beds or to keep your things off the ground.
- CPAP Battery: If you are camping or on a long plane ride, you may wish to consider a CPAP battery. The newer batteries will last you a couple days without a humidifier, but the name-brand (such as ResMed and Respironics to match your CPAP/APAP) are very expensive! The Freedom CPAP Battery has good reviews and is less than $300, but we haven’t tried it yet.
- A lightweight extension cord. We’ve unfortunately had to use this more than once as many older hotels will only have one accessible power outlet and your CPAP power cord may not reach! One time at the National Conference the power outlet was completely behind the headboard and we had to have the hotel hook up an extension cord for us.
- Accesories: Chin strap, CPAP humidifier, extra prescription eyeglasses, etc.
Travel CPAP vs. Old CPAP
There are quite a variety these days of travel focused CPAP machines: the Transcend Auto, ResMed AirMini, the Z1 Auto, and the XT-FitCPAP. They all seem to work well based upon reviews but some are very expensive (the Resmed AirMini is $900!!) and some are not really quiet. For now, we are lucky enough to have older CPAP’s that we can bring on our travels. We were very excited about the ResMed AirMini, but the price scared us away in addition to the reviews complaining about how loud it is.
Forgot or Missing CPAP Items
Dwarf Dad had the experience once of travelling cross-country without CPAP tubing (a new mask was placed into the travel bag but the new tubing was forgotten!). When cases like this happen, or if your tubing is damaged, keep in mind that Amazon has CPAP tubing available through Prime (without a prescription). Before new tubing could arrive, dad had to jury rig a connection from the ResMed Airfit P10 short-tube adapter to the CPAP blower port using duct-tape. It wasn’t perfect, but it did the job for a night in comparison to the first night where the CPAP wasn’t used (and you can imagine how horrible the following day was). Another option to consider is Craigslist (or local DME’s) for emergencies.