If you’re planning an international trip, you can’t afford to not have a sleep apnea treatment. The poor sleep you get, the morning headaches, the low energy all day caused by your sleep apnea can ruin your trip, whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure. But CPAP can be a major hassle when you travel. Here’s some advice for overcoming these hassles to get your CPAP to your destination.
Or you can consider a more convenient and easy-to-transport oral appliance for travel.
Getting CPAP Through Security
In order to make sure you have your CPAP machine at your destination, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends that you keep your CPAP in your carry-on luggage. Put it in a plastic bag to help avoid contamination. But you need to be prepared for extra security.
The TSA says that x-rays don’t always penetrate CPAP machines, so you will likely have to have the machine inspected by hand. You can ask that inspectors clean the surface where they will perform the inspection and put on fresh gloves before they inspect your CPAP machine. Remember, all bacteria on the CPAP gets pumped directly into your lungs, so additional caution to keep it clean is recommended.
Powering CPAP on the Plane
If you’re taking a long flight overseas, you’ll probably want to be sleeping on the plane, which means you’ll want to use your CPAP. There are battery-operated CPAP options, but not everyone is happy with these. To make sure you’ll have power on your flight, you can use a tool like SeatGuru, which will show whether your seat will have an outlet for your CPAP.
Powering CPAP at Your Destination
Before you travel, you have to make sure your CPAP is compatible with your the power at your destination. The CPAP machine should have a label on it that tells the acceptable power inputs. Check both the voltage and the hertz (Hz) to make sure they’re compatible with the power generated at your destination. A mismatch can lead to an inoperable CPAP or may damage the machine. If your CPAP doesn’t match the power at your destination, talk to your supplier about adapters.
You should also check the style of outlet at your destination. If it doesn’t match those we use in the US, you can find simple adapters at most travel stores.
Also be aware if the power at your destination is reliable or if it’s plagued with frequent outages or fluctuations.
If you’re using a battery-operated CPAP, make sure you bring enough batteries if you don’t think you’ll have access to a good supply.
Cleaning CPAP at Your Destination
Because bacteria on your CPAP machine is pumped right into your lungs, a dirty CPAP machine can put you at increased risk for catching a serious illness. So it’s important to keep your machine clean when you travel.
Clean your CPAP more frequently than you do at home, but you can use the same recommended cleaning technique. It’s best to bring cleaning supplies with you–don’t count on being able to find suitable soap at your destination. And when it comes to water, if you can’t drink the water at your destination, don’t use it to clean your CPAP.
Or Leave the CPAP at Home and Carry an Oral Appliance
But if you don’t like the thought of dealing with all these hassles of CPAP when you travel, you can always switch to an oral appliance for your sleep apnea treatment. Oral appliances are easily portable, and likely won’t require additional screening at the airport. They don’t need power on the plane or at your destination. And they’re easier to clean.
Plus, the extra comfort and ease of use can be helpful when you’re sleeping in a strange place where your CPAP anxiety might become more pronounced and harder to deal with.