As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, many Americans will travel across the country to see loved ones and friends. If you are planning to be one of them this holiday season, it’s normal to be both excited and anxious. While this is always an enjoyable time, it can also be stressful as you try to pack everything you’ll need and get to your destination on time.
For sleep apnea sufferers, the need to travel with a CPAP machine can cause even more stress. Leaving your CPAP machine at home may seem more convenient than bringing it with you, but this is likely to result in a flare–up of symptoms and negatively impact your overall health. It can take weeks after you return to get your symptoms under control and start feeling better.
While modern CPAP machines are lighter and easier to travel with than older models, you may still be worried about how you’ll remember to bring everything you need to use your machine. Here are some tips to help make the process of traveling with a CPAP easier this holiday season.
Replace Components Before You Go
If your hose or mask is due for replacement, get new components before you get on the road. Older components can wear down and are more likely to break if they are bent or smashed once placed inside your luggage. It may be hard to find the replacement pieces you need while on the road.
Protect Your CPAP From Damage
The TSA recommends that you place your CPAP machine inside a plastic bag before packing it inside your luggage. This ensures that whether you put the machine in your checked baggage or your carry on, there is an extra layer of protection against potential spills. Small items like makeup and sunscreen can break inside your suitcase and end up all over the contents, including your CPAP if you don’t protect it. It also helps to shield your CPAP from germs if you must take it out for security inspection or place it on a conveyor belt to be x-rayed.
Allow Extra Time at Security Checkpoints
As part of a regular screening, the TSA officer may want to check your CPAP device to ensure there is no explosive residue present. This is a simple process where the officer uses a cotton swab to verify that there are no illicit substances that are commonly used to make explosives inside your CPAP. While the test does not take long to complete, you should allow extra time just to be on the safe side.
Use a Carry on To Avoid Losing Your Machine
While most luggage makes its way to the intended destination, there are still bags that get misplaced or worse, lost forever. During the holiday season, when airports are at their busiest, the risk of losing your bag is real. If you don’t want to take the chance of losing your CPAP, take it with you in a carry-on bag and store it in the overhead compartment. While this may cost you an extra fee if you’re traveling with a discount airline, it’s worth the added peace of mind you’ll have knowing your CPAP won’t get lost.
Don’t Forget Your CPAP Cleaner
If you’ll be staying with friends or family for a week or more over the holiday season, be sure to pack your CPAP cleaner. Proper cleaning of the unit, while you travel, is important to keep it working. Sleeping in a new environment can disrupt your patterns and cause sleep apnea symptoms to flare up, so your CPAP machine can be vital to help you get some rest as you travel. Keeping your CPAP clean will help it deliver the most effective relief and stop you from being susceptible to bacteria and mold growth that begins inside the unit and spreads through the tubing to the mask. A large, clunky CPAP cleaning device is difficult to travel with, especially if you’ll be taking a plane to your destination. Instead, look for a lightweight, portable CPAP cleaning device like VirtuCLEAN. Made to be compact and easy to take anywhere, the VirtuCLEAN unit works without any liquids or solutions, making it easy to get through TSA security checkpoints. The whisper quiet operation makes it perfect for use in a hotel room or a crowded home where you are staying with other family members.
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