TRAVELING WITH A CPAP
What Are the Challenges of Traveling with a CPAP Machine?
You rely on your CPAP machine to help you get a better and healthier night’s sleep. But when it’s time to hit the road, and the suitcase is already overflowing, it may be tempting to leave the CPAP machine behind.
First, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone when it comes to traveling with your machine. There are thousands of people who travel every day with their sleep apnea machines.
These machines help if you have sleep apnea by providing additional pressure to help keep your airway open at night. The pressure reduces the three biggest problems with sleep apnea: snoring, waking yourself up when snoring, and stopped breathing. Some people need a different machine for sleep apnea called a BiPAP. We will just use the more common term CPAP in this article’s discussion.
Often, traveling with a CPAP comes down to educating yourself about how to best travel with your machine as well as choosing a highly portable machine.
Types of Traveling with a CPAP Machine
When traveling for work, you’re often trying to pack as little as possible, especially if the trips are of short duration. However, you also want to perform your best at a meeting, convention, or other business events. Not using your CPAP machine will affect your sleep and job performance.
Whether your family is large or even if they are small, family vacations are usually a chaotic time. You may be worried if you bring your machine that your toddler niece or nephew may knock it off a side table or that your sibling’s dog may chew on the hose. In these instances, a travel CPAP that is compact and easy to pack and put away is usually your best bet to reduce the chance of damage. Family vacations can also be stressful and getting poor quality sleep may increase your frustration and anger.
Camping with your sleep apnea machine may sound like an impossibility, but it’s actually not. If you have a compact CPAP machine that you can easily fit in a backpack or travel pack, you can bring your machine along.
Some travel CPAP machines have a battery-powered function. That means if you are truly off-grid, you can still use your sleep apnea machine. Some people may buy multiple batteries as a back-up for longer camping trips. Other campsites may have electricity, which allows you to connect your machine without the need for battery power.
Carrying Your CPAP Machine During Travel
The TSA has a special section on its website dedicated to those who travel with a CPAP. The good news is that yes, you can definitely travel with your machine.1 Know that the TSA must be able to screen (specifically X-ray) certain parts of your machine. This includes the machine itself and a nebulizer (if you have one). However, you don’t have to remove or screen your facemask or any tubing. They can stay in your bag.
The TSA advises traveling with your CPAP in a clear plastic bag.1 This way, you can put it on the belt or container without any components having to touch the surface.
Portability is very important when it comes to traveling with your CPAP machine. You’re less likely to pack a sleep apnea machine if it takes up too much real estate in your suitcase. If you travel frequently, you may wish to consider purchasing a travel CPAP machine. These are compact CPAP machines that pack easier for traveling.
Meet the Top 2 Travel CPAP Machines
The following are two common travel CPAP machines along with some considerations about the benefits of each.
The ResMed CPAP is the world’s smallest CPAP machine, making it ideal if you travel frequently or anticipate going on a long trip. The machine weighs less than a pound and will fit in the palm of your hand. Other key features of the ResMed Air Mini include:
- waterless humidification so you don’t have to pack water bottles
- connectivity to the AirMini app that allows you to control the machine from your phone
- technology that makes the ResMed CPAP quiet and comfortable to use
- travel bag with accessories that make it easy for travel
Although it is small, the ResMed CPAP still retains the traditional features of a full-sized CPAP. You can also purchase a battery for your ResMed CPAP as well as converters for charging in a vehicle or using abroad. The battery power even enables you to use the ResMed CPAP while in-flight if you desire.
Philips Respironics DreamStation Go
When you first look at the Philips Respironics DreamStation Go, it’s likely you won’t think it’s a sleep apnea machine. Slightly larger than a traditional cell phone, the device is very small and portable. Some of the key features of the Philips Respironics machine include:
available with an optional overnight battery
touchscreen features that make the device easy-to-use
approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use during airline flights
includes a USB charging port
In addition, the machine can track and adjust therapy. This includes detecting leaks and periods of shallow to apneic breathing. The information the Philips Respironics machine collects can be transferred over to a DreamMapper app. DreamMapper can show you information about your past sleep sessions, including data from your last three nights of sleep, plus a summary of how well you’ve slept over the past 30 days.
DreamStation Go vs. AirMini
It’s a tough decision between the ResMed CPAP and the Philips Respironics DreamStation. Both are very portable and lightweight and integrate technology to help you sleep better.
When considering both machines, here are some factors that may help you decide:
Travel CPAP machines have smaller motors than larger, traditional CPAP machines. Unfortunately, this means that most portable CPAP machines aren’t appropriate for every day, year-round use. However, the DreamStation Go is rated for daily use, which means that you could potentially use it as your traditional machine if your budget doesn’t enable you to have both a travel or a traditional CPAP mask.
Again, the DreamStation Go wins here (depending on your preferences). The DreamStation doesn’t have proprietary connections, which means you can likely use your own mask and circuit (providing their compatible). Alternatively, the ResMed Air Mini does require proprietary connections and mask. However, this may not be a drawback because you can keep the mask and connections separate and packed for fast travel.
Travel CPAP machines can make for a better night’s sleep whether you’re camping, traveling for business, or going on a family getaway. If your budget allows, having a travel machine in addition to your everyday machine can help you simply slip the machine into your suitcase and go. Both the DreamStation Go and the ResMed Air Mini are small and easy-to-take along. Determining which one is better for you may often depend upon your priorities and wishes for a travel CPAP machine. Contact us if you have questions and we will help you purchase the best travel CPAP machine for you.