Explore Travel

5 Tips for seamless travel with CPAP: How to explore the world comfortably

Find out how a sleep apnoea sufferer can enjoy seamless travel with a CPAP machine. Picture Shutterstock
Find out how a sleep apnoea sufferer can enjoy seamless travel with a CPAP machine. Picture Shutterstock

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Travel is one of the most exciting things we can do. After all, what could be better than relaxing on a sun-kissed beach at a remote island location, exploring vibrant, exotic cities that differ from your own or discovering the past at a place of huge historical significance?

However, as exciting a proposition as travel might be, for those who rely on CPAP machines to manage their sleep apnoea condition, it can present a challenge. Not least because overseas travel often involves taking gruelling long-haul flights and crossing multiple time zones - which might disrupt their attempts at sleep.

So, how then can a sleep apnoea sufferer enjoy seamless travel with a CPAP machine?

Here are some tips to make the experience better for them.

1. Invest in a CPAP machine that is designed for travel

If you suffer from sleep apnoea, one of the first things you should consider doing is to invest in a CPAP machine that you can easily take on your travels with you.

You'll find a wide range of makes and models that are specifically designed to be taken abroad. Portable and compact, they usually are compatible with international power sockets and are also battery-operated. Additionally, they come with associated accessories like hoses, power adapters and masks that should provide you with a seamless sleep experience, both while flying and in your hotel accommodation.

You can check out some examples here.

2. Consider using a heat and moisture exchanger (HME)

The fit and overall comfort level of your mask is a crucial factor in how effective your CPAP therapy is. However, with some masks during your travels - particularly when used on battery power - the option of using a humidifier to prevent dry mouth might not be viable due to it quickly draining its levels.

For this reason, you should consider using a Heat Moisture Exchanger (HME) device. It can be used in unison with your CPAP machine to provide you with additional humidity, which is delivered directly through the CPAP mask.

3. Take a spare CPAP battery with you

Depending on factors like its capacity, the additional accessories you use and your machine's pressure settings, CPAP batteries have a varying battery life. Subsequently, it is worth taking a spare one or two with you on your travels to avoid being caught short.

The instruction manual of your CPAP machine should tell you how long its battery life is. If not, it is worth confirming this with the manufacturer. However, you will be able to garner a general estimate by dividing the battery's watt-hours (Wh) capacity by your CPAP machine's average watt power consumption.

When calculating this, be mindful that the higher the pressure setting you use, the quicker your battery life may be reduced.

4. Take a travel adapter with you

Depending on where you are travelling to, you might need to bring a travel adapter with you to plug in your CPAP machine.

Different countries and continents have different plug and socket types, so it is worth investing in a country-specific or universal adapter that will enable you to use your machine seamlessly while away.

It is also worth verifying your destination's voltage requirements. Although many CPAP machines come with universal, built-in power supplies, others might require the use of a voltage adapter to be compatible with local power outlets.

5. Make sure you regularly clean your CPAP machine

In the excitement of visiting new places, it can be easy to forget to clean your CPAP machine. However, just like when you are using it at home, the effectiveness of your sleep apnoea therapy is contingent upon having a well-maintained set of equipment.

It is worth taking a portable cleaning kit or some travel-sized CPAP wipes with you to ensure your devices are clean, as this will give them the best chance of staying operational.

Generally speaking, you should avoid using tap water when cleaning your CPAP equipment, particularly when you are in unfamiliar locations. Often, tap water contains impurities which may end up irritating your airways or compromising your machine. Use distilled water instead if you do not have any CPAP wipes with you.

6. Embrace sleep tourism

Yes, you read that right. Sleep tourism is a thing. If you have an open mind, it might be worth investigating, as it could help you get a good night's sleep.

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