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Traveling With Sleep Apnea & Your CPAP

Confessions of a Snore Partner

JOURNAL ENTRY #12:

My husband and I recently traveled to Jamaica to renew our wedding vows. It’s hard to believe we’re nearing our 10-year anniversary. We decided to celebrate by revisiting the beautiful island where we honeymooned.

My husband’s brother and his wife, however, agreed to come along. In fact, this was their very first trip like this together, and the first extended vacation they took away from their kids. It was much needed and we had a blast.

We live closer to Milwaukee but only could get a direct flight from Chicago O’Hare. Our flight was early in the morning so we decided to stay one night in a relatively affordable hotel near the airport. We just shared a room to save money. I joked with my husband that I should pack earplugs for them just in case his snoring was too much for them. He reminded me then that his brother had actually been diagnosed with sleep apnea and sleeps with a CPAP. It’s pretty common for this to run in the family, so it further strengthened my theory that my husband also has OSA. Their mother had actually very recently had surgery on her nose to help with her snoring. (I’m thankful I’ve never had to sleep under the same roof with all three of them!)

Ear Plugs to Block The Sound of Snoring at Night
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My anxiousness about being able to sleep got even worse — not only did I have the pre-travel jitters, but now I had to somehow fall asleep over his snoring and the loud hum of a CPAP machine? My hope for getting any rest that night continued to dwindle.

But I must say I was pleasantly surprised that, even with side-by-side full-size beds, I never heard his machine. In fact, I was stunned at how quiet it was, it was nothing like I had expected. When I asked him about it, he said he got used to it so quickly, that he doesn’t even think about it anymore as it comforts him to sleep

My sister-in-law assured me she did plenty of research and found that it was okay to carry it on because it’s a medical device. She did however get stopped on the way back home for having the water, but with enough explaining that the distilled water was required for him to stay healthy and prevent bacterial growth, they let her pass by (with just a little hesitation.)

The following day at the airport, when we got to the security line, it occurred to me that they had an extra piece of luggage — his CPAP plus bottles of distilled water — and I raised the alarm that they may have trouble getting through security with this much liquid as a carry-on. (I have traveled a lot more than them so I wasn’t sure if they knew the rules.)

Thankfully we didn’t have a long, overnight flight. He would have had a lot of issues being able to sleep on the plane, either without his CPAP or with trying to figure out a way to plug it in. In a case like this, an oral appliance would have been much easier to travel with. It’s something he could have slipped into his carry-on, much like any old mouthguard.  

It just all got me thinking about how much CPAP truly affects your life. You may want to take some time off, but sleep apnea doesn’t take a vacation. It’s something you must deal with and take seriously every night, even when you’re sleeping away from the comfort of your own bed.   

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I learned a lot about traveling with the CPAP and his sleep apnea. I also took this quality time to inform him of my experiences learning from ADVENT. He got excited about the opportunities their services could provide, and the idea of no longer needing his CPAP at night. I think I was more anxious about the consequences of them traveling with this machine than they were, they handled it like pros. But again, I guess that’s what happens when you live with this disorder.

Overall, the trip was a positive experience — one that rejuvenated my husband’s and I relationship and gave us time with my in-laws. At the very least, I got to almost experience OSA and CPAP life first-hand.

Visit TSA.gov to find travel regulations and restrictions, including guidelines on traveling with medical devices. Or unload your sleep and snoring baggage once and for all…Schedule an appointment with ADVENT today.