If I take my current cpap, is it better to put it in checked luggage or should I carry it on? I CANNOT have it broken or lost.
Either your sleep doctor or your medical provider should have made the two rules of CPAP air travel very clear: The CPAP machine must never be checked baggage, only carry-on; and as a medical device it will not count against your carry-on limit.
Additionally, I've heard that there are portable cpap machines. Do they merit purchase? If so, is it simple to set up or would I need to visit the doctor again to get it programmed? My cpap pressure is now set/locked using an SD card the doctor gave me.
First, a reputable CPAP provider typically requires a doctor’s prescription to sell you a CPAP machine. They will probably require you to have your sleep doctor’s office send your CPAP prescription to them as proof. The CPAP provider should also use that prescription to set up the CPAP machine for you with your prescribed settings. It should arrive at your home all personalized and ready to use.
A major factor for travel CPAP machines is cost…because most health insurers only pay for a full size CPAP machine, you will be very lucky if your health insurance will also pay for a travel CPAP. They probably will not. This means you have to be able to afford the full cost of a travel CPAP, and many cost as much or more than a home model.
The reason I bought a travel CPAP machine is because it’s small enough that I can pack it into my day bag that I already carry on the plane. I did not want to have to always carry a third shoulder bag (the travel case for the Airsense 10) through cities and on buses and trains to/from accommodations. To be agile on the ground, I have to keep it down to two bags, one rolling and a smaller day bag on my back.
When you look at the size of a travel CPAP, do not just look at the size of the machine. Look at the total packing size of the machine plus its power adapter plus the mask and hose. Sometimes that total size is not really much less than just taking the AirSense 10. A travel CPAP with an internal power supply (no external adapter brick, just a power cord) saves a lot of packing space.
That’s how you want to look at it. If you spend like $800 on a travel CPAP, how much space did you really save?
Finally, pack a power strip that specifically supports not just 110V (USA) but also 220V (Europe), so that even if your hotel room only has one free AC outlet, you can still power both your CPAP and charge other devices. The CPAP power supply itself probably already supports 220V but make sure, since if it only supports 110V it will also need a power transformer for Europe.