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looking for travel advice.

I am a relatively new cpap user. I got my airsense 10 around 3 months ago, and despite a rocky start, I cannot imagine trying to sleep without it now.

That said, I have a lot of travel coming up and was unsure of the best way to proceed. 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.

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.

Last but not least, thanks for reading my first Reddit post; hopefully I did it well.

Posted by
10358 posts

Always carry your machine onboard with you. It's not counted in the carry-on luggage limit because it's a medical device. Since the carrying case usually slips over the handle of a rolling bag, making it easy to transport, I don't see much advantage in getting another machine a bit smaller, one that would take up space inside your carry-on. Be sure you distinguish all your bags and suitcases with a bright ribbon so everything is easier to spot. You don't want to forget anything as you increase your bags by one. Or, carry the machine in a carry-on backpack.

Posted by
582 posts

Never check it, always carry on. You’d have to ask your doc about programming a travel one. I researched getting one myself, but decided it wasn’t worth the expense (several hundred dollars). I only fly once or twice a year, though, so you may feel it’s worth it.

Posted by
8650 posts

A family member uses one. Her doctor actually had little to do with it other than referring her to a local company which did all the technical fitting and setup. I believe that they would be the best source of info re a travel cPAP. But your situation might be different. It'd be up to you to decide whether that was worth the cost.

Posted by
11368 posts

Never check any medical supplies! It will not count as one of your carry ons.

Posted by
33335 posts

Last but not least, thanks for reading my first Reddit post; hopefully I did it well.

but this isn't Reddit. But welcome to Rick Steves, anyway. I note that this is your first post here too.

Posted by
7463 posts

My husband brings his when we travel and puts it in a backpack as his personal item - could also be carry-on because of a medical device, but he doesn’t want three items on trips. He does leave the water section of the CPAP at home.

And if you’re married, you will both get much better sleep on your trip! ; )

Posted by
467 posts

Always, always carry on anything that you absolutely must not lose, such as a CPAP machine and any medications.

I bought a travel cpap machine last October (ResMed AirMini) and am so glad that I did. Yes, it was expensive (I think around $900 or so) but it is so nice to be able to fit the machine itself in my backpack. I pack the hose and mask in my carry-on. I absolutely recommend it.

Posted by
4003 posts

You’ll see many people with them at the airport. You’ll recognize the small, rectangular grey bag.

Posted by
8650 posts

Welcome to the Rick Steves Forum. Just two comments regarding your post here. One is that you posted in the Minority Traveler forum, which is probably not the best place, for your question. The Packing forum or even General Europe might get more views. Also if you put "cPAP" in the title, it will be easier for people with similar questions to find in the future in a Search or just for people to know the subject.

Posted by
19 posts

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.