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Are CPAP machines allowed on RS tours?

Hello,

I haven't been able to find information on whether or not CPAP machines are an exception to the "one bag" rule on RS tours. Both my partner and I must travel with one, and so we end up traveling with one carry-on and on CPAP each. Would this be allowed on a tour?

We've been independent travelers so far, but I'd sure love to turn all the time consuming work of trip planning over to someone else for a while and try a RS tour!

Thanks in advance for any input.

Posted by
4949 posts

Cata11, there is no "rule". Where did you read such a thing? It is recommended that you take a carryon size bag and a daybag, but they're not going to throw you off for having more or a necessary medical device. Take whatever you need, just recognize you have to carry and manage all your luggage yourself.

Posted by
1507 posts

I think as long as you can carry all of your own baggage without help, you should be fine. Be aware that RS tours stay in hotels that you may have to walk several (or many) blocks to reach, or in the case of a place like Venice, up and over many bridges. Hotels may not have elevators, so you'd need to be able to haul your bag(s) up the stairs. From the tour condition agreements:

Carry or roll your own luggage for up to 15 minutes over uneven
pavement from the bus to the hotel (not applicable on 7-day city
tours), then haul it up as many as five flights of stairs to reach
your room.

I had a tour mate on RS tour that had a CPAP - she was able to fit it in her rolling bag (it was big, but she could handle it). To be really sure, call the RS office and confirm.

Edited to add for Stan. The tour condition agreements for RS tours say this:

Pack light: Each tour member is allowed to bring just one airline
carry-on-size piece of luggage (approximately 21" x 14" x 9") plus a
small day pack or shoulder bag. Your Pre-Tour Planner includes tips
for packing light and creatively.

Posted by
1839 posts

I absolutely could not imagine RS Tours not allowing someone to bring along a medically required aid. Of course, the rules of the tours are such that you would need to carry/transport anything you bring.

Assuming such a device requires electricity, you will, of course, need to make sure you have the appropriate converters. Assuming such device is used while one sleeps, there might be situations where an electric plug is not immediately by the bed (some older hotels can be funky), so an extension cord might be advisable. Or call the RS Tour office to make sure hotels would present no problem. I do recall one tour hotel where we could only use their hair dryer, and irons had to be used in a certain common room (guests could not take them to their individual rooms), which we heard was due to circuit issues in that particular hotel (that was about 14 years ago or so).

I have read other forum posters mentioning that they have traveled with the CPAP machines, so hopefully one of them can share personal experience with an RS Tour (or two or three or ten).

Posted by
4949 posts

CL, thanks for pointing that out. I stand corrected. I guess its in the tour docs you get when you're signing up, not on the tour pages. I will say it is evident that not everyone can manage that. We've done three tours and noticed plenty of larger bags.

But in any case, a medical device won't be prohibited by anyone. If Cata11 is still concerned, just call the tour office and they'll confirm.

Posted by
14 posts

I read this in the "tour conditions": "Each tour member is allowed to bring just one airline carry-on-size piece of luggage (approximately 21" x 14" x 9") plus a small day pack or shoulder bag" and that verbiage is what made me question what I could bring. I couldn't find an area on the website that otherwise addressed medical equipment.

We're both fit enough to handle our luggage and the physical demands of a busy day of sight-seeing. We've done 10 countries on our own - I'm just tired of doing all the planning.

Thank you all so much taking time to post your helpful answers. Much appreciated!

Posted by
850 posts

I've done 5 RS tours with my CPAP.
I use a 22" bag, plus a backpack, and am able to handle my luggage by myself, which is really the most important part. I'm sure RS tours would like people to pack light, but I've had people on all my tours who brought bigger than suggested luggage. I doubt anything was said, but I suspect some of them will pack lighter on future trips. 😀

BTW, my CPAP is dual-voltage, so I only need a plug adapter, and I always bring an extension cord, which I do need occasionally.

Posted by
4805 posts

Talk directly to a tour rep to address any of your concerns. I doubt it is an issue.

You may also want to consider the age and electrical requirements of your CPAP. Take a look at the label listing electrical requirements. It will either state something like "Input 120V/XX Amps" or hopefully will say something like input "120/240 V; XX/X Amps" the second indicates your device is dual voltage...so all you will need is an adapter. If you have a single voltage unit, then it will take some doing to find an appropriate converter.

If your CPAP is older, you might consider just getting a newer, smaller, dual voltage unit.

The suggestion of an extension cord is a good one.

Posted by
14 posts

I receive a new CPAP every 12 months, so it is new. We keep extension cords, adapters, and letters from the prescribing doctor in our CPAP cases. We never use them on the overnight flights (can't sleep anyway!) so my only concern was if it was frowned upon to bring items that are not listed in the tour information.

Looks like we need to start picking out a tour!

Thanks again!

Posted by
7634 posts

Cata, I'll agree with the others that it really just means you need to be able to handle everything yourself.

If you are going on a tour with a bus component the bus will be a regular sized bus so there is a ton of room in the luggage compartments. A number of the drivers also carry a bicycle for themselves! One driver (one of my favorites!) had one area set up so he could have a section for hanging his clothes - and yes, he was a very smart dresser! Some will have a large box set up in one of the luggage bays for people to use for deep storage of souvenirs they purchase along the way as well. Space is not an issue!

Have a great time picking a tour!

Posted by
2234 posts

I was assigned a roommate, on an RS tour, who used a CPAP machine, my first experience with one. As it turned out, he turned in earlier than I did, and was truly out like a light. I could go about my business without bothering him at all. Once I was ready for bed and the lights went off, his breathing sounded like gentle surf in the distance, made me feel like we had an oceanfront room. All was very well, although I must admit, he looked quite a bit like Darth Vader all night long.

Posted by
3249 posts

You no doubt already know that most North American airlines allow you to carry-on a 22x14x9 bag, a personal item AND your CPAP. If we had to check a bag on European airlines, even if cabin baggage was limited to one item, my husband still didn't have to count the CPAP. Of course you need to verify that with your airline.

Your major challenge while on tour may be finding distilled water for the machine. That can be avoided by arriving early, a good idea for jet-lag anyway, and buying it before the tour begins.

On one trip (not a tour) my husband decided to get a European extension cord with multiple outlets. It is very sturdy, wasn't expensive and it allowed him to plug in his CPAP close enough to the head of the bed to use it when the only outlet available was a few feet away. He could also plug in his tablet and phone. Of course, he needs 3 plug adapters for the devices, but none is needed for the extension cord itself.

BTW, on the 2 longer tours I've been on so far (Village Italy and Best of Scandinavia), the "big" bag goes under the bus, but people brought a host of other travel comfort items inside the bus. Many of them involved food and often those food items would be in bags acquired along the way.

Posted by
14 posts

All good information, folks - thanks!

We used distilled water in our machines the first time we traveled with them. What a pain in the butt that was! At my next doctor's appointment, I asked my pulmonologist and respiratory therapist about their experiences with traveling with their machines. (They are both CPAP users.) Neither of them bother with distilled water! They just use any safe drinking water and dry the machine out every morning. We've done it that way ever since and it has worked well for us.

Posted by
4949 posts

Using distilled water is all about avoiding mineral buildup on the equipment, that is, about keeping maintenance low.

Posted by
741 posts

Echoing the other responses:

A) While the RS tour documents say what luggage is "allowed," you can bring as much as you want, BUT you must wrangle it yourself.
B) Yes, you can bring your CPAP. I've used mine on our two RS tours plus multiple domestic trips and will, of course, take it on our third overseas tour next year.
C) Theoretically, you can take your carry-on bag and your personal item PLUS a medical device such as a CPAP on the plane. I did exactly that on our first trip abroad, packing the CPAP separately in the bag it came with. And it was a total pain the butt. Juggling three bags through airports, immigration checks, etc. was a mess. Here's what I do now:

I have the RS rolling carry-on as my main bag. I use the RS Euro bag as my personal item. In that, I put my CPAP, camera and stuff I want on the plane with me -- Kindle, earphones, gum, whatever. I printed and laminated a "Medical Device -- CPAP" tag and attached it to the Euro bag. But no airline or security personnel -- domestic or foreign -- have ever paid the slightest attention to the contents of the bag once through security. If I'm in a regular security line rather than pre-check I remove the CPAP and put it in a tub to run through the scanner, just like any large electronic device. Once on the plane, the soft-sided Euro bag squishes easily to fit under-seat, as long as you haven't jammed it to the max. And the Euro bag attaches to the handle of the carry-on so I can roll everything along.

Finally, I have taken to leaving the CPAP humidifier at home when I travel. While I use the humidifier nightly at home, I find I can do without it for a week or two if it means packing a little lighter. I did the distilled-water search on a couple of trips. Lugging a gallon jug down city streets and on the subway in Boston was enough for me. If you really need the humidifier, I think you're OK using bottled, filtered water for a week or two. The distilled water keeps mineral deposits from building up over time, but for a short period I believe you can just use regular bottled water.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your tour!

Posted by
5637 posts

Have taken a bi pap,similar to cpap, worldwide, in third world countries too and never ever have needed a converter. Just bring a European or UK plug adaptor. The biggest hassle is carrying the distilled water around. Easy to buy in smaller sizes in Italy in laundry section of any size market. Impossible to find it in the UK!

Posted by
3226 posts

How much luggage any tour member brought has never been any issue on any RS tour I have taken -- as long as they did not require assistance in getting it to or from the bus. On one trip a member brought 2 large checked bags, a briefcase, computer bag, backpack, and day bag.

The wording CL posted is new to me. The last tour I took it was a "suggestion" not stated as a limitation. Maybe recent tour members have been bringing excessive baggage so they had to make it a limit? Still, as long as you can move all of your luggage to or from the bus in one trip without assistance, and it fits in the bus luggage area, there should be no issue bringing what you need. But still a good idea to call the office and ask just to be sure.

Additional Edit: I see that the wording on this topic on the web page has been exactly the same all the way back to at least 2014 (thank you Wayback Machine) yet no one ever had any issues on the tours I took in those years when they brought additional or larger bags (other than regretting not packing lighter)..

Posted by
1507 posts

Not to prolong this conversation (sorry Cata11!), but here is the link to the full tour conditions for 2019 tours. The baggage language is near the bottom. FWIW, I recall less strong language for my tours (all taken 2014 or earlier):

Posted by
50 posts

Just got back from the Sicily tour and several people had CPAP machines. Also many bags were bigger than recommended size. The main point is that one has to carry/roll all of ones luggage.

Posted by
29 posts

I have just returned from a Venice Florence Rome tour and I use a CPAP. As another poster has said forget the humidifier or just use tap water and clean and dry your unit daily. It is my understanding that your CPAP is considered a medical device and is therefore not considered baggage by the security screening, by the airline or by the tour. You must however expect to carry everything yourself and once you have done one of these tours you likely will pack much lighter next time.

Posted by
741 posts

One bit of advice I forgot in my initial response is to always, always, always take an extension cord. I've had to use it often in hotel rooms, both abroad and in the U.S. On my recent trip to the Seattle area, I needed the cord in at least two hotels, including one where I had to shift the king-size mattress around and awkwardly stretch to reach the only available outlet, and that was a very nice hotel. Every time I get complacent and think I won't need the cord, I run into a situation like that.

Many hotels don't have a lot of wall outlets and they may be in use for lamps and other things. Lots of hotels have added outlets on desks, bedside lamps, etc. but you're just as likely to find a room where they're in short supply. I use a cord with multiple receptacles, so if I have to unplug a lamp from a wall outlet I can plug it back into the cord.

Posted by
62 posts

We've taken two RS tours and are taking our third in 2019. My DH uses a CPAP and has taken it on each tour, no problem. Also, for what it's worth, I've ALWAYS taken one very large "under the bus bag" that is way bigger than the recommended carry on size, to bring back souvenirs, etc. It stays under the bus except for on occasion when I ask the driver to bring it out so I can put some extras in it, and of course the first and last stops. No one has said a word. You'll be fine.

Posted by
440 posts

I do not use a CPAP myself but my wife’s unit was recently replaced with a nice upgrade. Her new device is easily half the size and mass (and noise) of the previous unit. Maybe you could benefit from an upgrade before your insurance coverage likely resets in January.

Traveling with the unit makes her nuts what with finding distilled water on the road and not having her ozone cleaning system along.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi. Extremely dependent on CPAP and humidifier, but extremely independent traveler - female late 60s. No problems ever w CPAP on RS tours, my own trips, or airline security. My machine's case has a strap across back which allows hooking over collapsible handle for rolling luggage. Easy peasy to transport it with me. You should definitely bring extension cord as other travelers mention. I also pack a small plastic hanger to hang hoses to dry in hotels. I found distilled water in ubiquitous pharmacies throughout our 3 weeks and many towns in Italy. In Norway, more of a challenge. Pharmacies there had never heard of such a machine; the government health system must think it unnecessary! Agree you could probably use purified water in a pinch.

Posted by
4 posts

To add to the above, I do carry a third bag: largish purse over shoulder, or a smallish soft backpack, in which I store a much smaller bag to use as only bag when out sightseeing.

Posted by
46 posts

My mom purchased a travel size CPAP machine and was able to fit it into her small suitcase. No need to have an extra bag just for the CPAP. Ask your pulmonologist about this. It was a bit of an investment, but she can now travel a little more easily both in the US and abroad. She took a 2-gallon size ziploc bag along to clean the hose in rather than use the hotel sinks. Worked great!

Posted by
15 posts

We'll be going on our 4th RS tour in April and we have always brought our CPAP's with absolutely no problem. The only thing I recommend is bringing a good extension cord because the outlets are not always near the bed. Distilled water is never easy to find, usually you can get it only at a pharmacy and it's a lot more expensive than in the US, however it is worth the extra cost for me. Have fun and enjoy your trip.