Iowa Sleep Blog

How to Travel with CPAP

Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer is almost here, which means kids will be out of school and family vacations will be underway. To make sure you have enough energy to enjoy the sights, activities and long hours that come with vacations (or long meetings that come with business travel), it’s important to make sure you’re getting quality sleep every night.

For people with sleep apnea, traveling with a CPAP can seem tricky, but it is not equipment you want to go a week, or even a couple nights, without. And actually, it’s pretty easy to travel with your CPAP equipment, even on airplanes. Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan and prepare for your next trip:

Before your trip

In case your equipment breaks or is lost, it’s a good idea to travel with a copy of your CPAP prescription. You will also want to make sure you have the following information or accessories.

  • Model and serial number of your CPAP machine
  • Your treatment pressure
  • Your mask type and size
  • Physician and equipment provider contact information
  • Health insurance information
  • Extra cushions and other CPAP accessories you might need

Flying with CPAP

As medical equipment, CPAP machines are allowed as a carry-on and does not count towards your allowed number of carry-ons. We recommend labeling your case with a medical equipment luggage tag, although most TSA agents are familiar with the machines. Going through security, you will need to x-ray your CPAP. Take the machine out of its bag and put it in its own screening bin, but everything else can be kept in the case. You may want to carry your prescription with you, as well, in case security needs to see it. Do not check your CPAP equipment, as it is more likely to be damaged, lost or stolen.

If you are taking an overnight flight, remember you can use your CPAP in flight, but not your humidifier, since turbulence can cause water to spill and damage the machine. You’ll want to notify the airline you’re flying at least two weeks in advance to receive proper clearance for CPAP usage. The airline should be able to tell you if you’ll need an adaptor or power cord, and during the flight, be sure to alert a flight attendant when you start up your machine.

Other helpful hints

There are a variety of CPAP machines designed for travel, and your local CPAP equipment provider can walk you through the other products and accessories that may make traveling easier. Additionally, if you’ll be staying into a hotel, keep in mind that there may not be an outlet right next to the bed and you may want pack an extension cord. CPAPs can also be powered with batteries, which can be an attractive alternative. Be sure to check and test it out before you leave.

Give Iowa Sleep a call to learn more about travel specific CPAP equipment, send us a question through our easy online from, or schedule a consultation to get your sleep problems under control.