Traveling with Sleep Apnea: All You Need to Know

A few months ago, I received an inquiry from a couple asking if it was possible to travel with a CPAP machine. Thinking that they are probably not the only ones asking themselves how to travel with sleep apnea (which in most cases means traveling with CPAP machines and its accessories) I decided to summarize in this post all you need to know before traveling with this sleep disorder.

The following is a sponsored post. However, all opinions and research done for this post are my own.

traveling with sleep apnea article

The request I previously mentioned came from a couple that “wanted to get out,” but was worried about traveling with treatment equipment for sleep apnea. It is not a secret that airports and airplanes are not the cleanest or more accessible places in the world, so I truly understood their concern. But before I tell you how is possible to travel with sleep apnea, let’s define what it is.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by breathing interruptions while you are sleeping. Some of the symptoms include frequent or loud snoring, frequent awakenings, restless nights, and heartburn. Something worth mentioning is that most of the signs we associate with sleep apnea are symptoms that are present in men.

However, symptoms in women can be different than those in men and are often mistaken by menopause symptoms. Examples of sleep apnea symptoms in women include depression, forgetfulness, and feeling tired and sleepy. Moreover, according to research, 9 out of 10 women that suffer from sleep apnea are misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all.

The good thing is that sleep apnea is treatable, and treatment can improve your life. One of the most well-known treatments being CPAP therapy.

If you or a loved one has not been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but think there is a chance to be suffering from it, do not wait to visit your medical care provider. 

What is CPAP therapy?

CPAP (Continous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy consists of wearing a face mask that is connected to a pump (CPAP machine) which forces air into the nasal passages at pressures high enough to avoid obstructions in the airway. This helps with breathing and consequently helps improve the quality of your sleep.

What about TSA, airlines, and cruise lines? Are they ok with people traveling with CPAP machines?
TSA

The short answer is yes. TSA is (or it’s supposed to be) familiar with CPAP equipment, but you need to treat it as you would treat a laptop. What this means is that you have to take the machine out of your carry on and put it on its own bin to be X-rayed. You don’t have to do this with the plastic tubing or masks (unless they ask you to).

Airlines

Yes (but with some caveats about using the equipment on board). Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a CPAP machine is not considered carry-on luggage. What this means for you is that you don’t have to count your equipment as one piece of luggage. Just make sure to communicate this to the airline employee(s).

Once you have gone through TSA, your next worry will be about maybe having to use the equipment on board. Here the situation becomes trickier since not every plane or seat will give you or has access to power outlets.

In this case, you have a few options:

  • Buy a First-Class or Business Class seat with access to an EmPower Outlet. Call the airline before buying the ticket and make sure the plane they’ll be using for your flight has this type of power outlet. If it does, don’t forget to buy an EmPower Adapter.
  • Get a CPAP equipment with a portable battery. If you go to CheapCPAPSupplies.com and search the word “Travel,” you will find multiple options (including equipment with portable solar battery chargers!) for equipment compatible with traveling and portability.
Cruises

You shouldn’t have any issues with bringing CPAP equipment to a cruise. However, you may have to fill a form and bring extension cords. Some cruise lines will require you to take your equipment with you in your carry-on, and for others is recommended to take distilled water because if not you’ll probably have to buy it on the ship.

Just make sure to mention the need for traveling with your equipment to the cruise line or your travel agent at the time of booking.

RV

Take a look at this article about using your CPAP while traveling in an RV. 

How can I keep my CPAP equipment clean when traveling?

Additional to everything you would do to keep the equipment clean at your house, our recommendation to you is to keep the machine in a clear bag during TSA inspection. As you can imagine, X-ray bins at the airport are not the most sterile thing.

You can also require TSA officials to change their gloves before touching the equipment. If they decide to swab the equipment you can also make sure the swab is new.

Where can I buy CPAP supplies compatible with traveling?

As we mentioned before you should check out the variety of equipment (at reasonable prices) that you can find in CheapCPAPSupplies.com

Do you have any other question regarding traveling with your CPAP that I did not cover?

Please don’t hesitate to comment on this post, send us a message, or talk to your preferred airline or cruise line for more information.

Disclaimer: This post is intended to inform the reader about traveling with sleep apnea and CPAP equipment. This is not a comprehensive guide regarding sleep apnea. The content of this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

References:

TSA Rules About CPAP Machines | USA Today. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/tsa-rules-cpap-machines-110222.html

Women and Sleep Apnea| Society for Women’s Health Research. https://swhr.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/SWHR_Women-Sleep-Apnea.pdf 

Don’t Forget to Share & Pin

With an estimated 22 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea, you are not alone. Find out how traveling with sleep apnea it is still possible if you plan ahead and choose the right equipment.

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