Frequently asked questions about travelling with CPAP

Boat in the sea

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 09:56 am

The summer is here, and many people will be going on holiday over the coming weeks. Taking a CPAP machine with you can raise a few questions, however – so here is some useful information to note if you’re jetting off soon.

Do I need an adapter plug for mains power?

Most CPAP machines use a figure-8 mains lead and can accept any voltage between 100 and 240V. This means you can use your machine virtually anywhere in the world, and all you need is the appropriate figure-8 lead. Using a cable rather than a converter reduces the risk of any damage being caused to your machine. You can find plugs available for the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and Europe in our CPAP AC Cables category.

If you are unsure what plug the country you are travelling to requires, then you can contact us

However, a travel adapter will be required if your machine has a fixed power lead (i.e., it cannot be removed from the machine).

Can my machine use a battery?

Most CPAP machines can run from a 12V source, such as a CPAP battery.

You’ll just need the appropriate 12V cable for your particular model. Check the back or bottom of your CPAP machine to find the electrical requirements and see if 12V (or 24V) DC is listed – if so, then you should be able to find an appropriate lead and battery.

Can I take my humidifier?

CPAP humidifiers can be transported, but it is often better to leave them behind. They’re heavy and bulky, they have to have mains power (they use too much power for a battery or other 12V option), and even the smallest amount of water left inside can find its way into the main unit and damage it.

You may instead want to consider a low-cost Waterless Humidifier for short-term use while travelling, but otherwise, unless the humidification is essential to you, many find it better to go without for a short period.

Do travel CPAP machines exist?

Yes. A travel CPAP machine such as the ResMed AirMini makes travelling with CPAP far easier; you can also use the HumidX waterless humidification if you are travelling. You can also use a universal hose adapter to use any mask with the device. Travel devices are a fraction of the size and weight of regular machines.

Travel machines do come at a cost, but for many, the convenience and portability they offer make them a sound investment.

If you want to purchase a travel machine but have not got anything in writing confirming you use CPAP, then you can ask your GP, consultant or sleep clinic to complete a form which will then allow you to.

Can I take my machine on a flight?

Generally speaking, yes – but always check with your airline, and if they give approval, then request it in writing. Several airlines will allow it as additional carry-on luggage, meaning you do not need to sacrifice space in your cabin bag. You may also need to have something in writing from your doctor or sleep clinic confirming your requirement for it – we would recommend asking for that right away because there’s often a wait for that to be issued.

Can I go without CPAP while I am on holiday?

Using CPAP is a little like drinking water. You can drink water every day for weeks, but you’ll get dehydrated the day you stop.

CPAP similarly affects sleep quality – the night you stop using it, OSA will disrupt your sleep. So it is not advisable to go without – after all, a holiday is about relaxing and enjoying yourself, and it is difficult to do that with poor sleep. So it is worth seeing if there is a solution to your CPAP travelling problems. If you really cannot take the machine with you, then using a Mandibular Advancement Device (which is like a gumshield) such as a SomnoFit will provide a degree of treatment for a short period.

However, for those diagnosed with Severe, or even Moderate, OSA then this is unlikely to be sufficient, so why not give us a call or an email, and we will see if we can find a solution with you that will allow you to continue the benefits of CPAP while you are away.

Take a look at our tips for travelling with Sleep Apnoea for more helpful advice!

If you have a holiday coming up and have a question or two not answered here, contact us.