Best Travel CPAP Machines
If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you likely rely on a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to assist with breathing during sleep. Most standard CPAP machines are not designed with portability in mind, which may pose some difficulties if you plan on traveling.
Travel CPAP machines, on the other hand, are specifically designed for travel, offering many of the same features as standard CPAP machines but in a smaller and lighter unit. They are also designed with features that make it easier to power your machine during travel. A high-quality travel CPAP machine can help ensure that you continue to get a good night’s sleep even when you’re away from home.
Before purchasing a travel CPAP machine, remember that they require a prescription from a medical professional, as is the case with standard CPAP units.
There are a number of travel CPAP machines on the market, each with various features, so be sure to consult your doctor about which model might be best for you.
Our Top Picks
ResMed AirMini Auto Travel CPAP Machine
Dimensions5.4" x 3.3" x 2.1"
Sound Level25-27 dBa
- Travel-friendly size
- Waterless humidification system
- Pressure automatically adjusts based on your breathing
- Sleepers who benefit from automatic pressure adjustments
- Those who want to invest in a relatively quiet CPAP machine
- CPAP users prone to sore throats or nasal irritation
With a compact design and a weight of 10.6 ounces, the ResMed AirMini Auto Travel CPAP Machine is easy to tuck into your suitcase or travel bag. It also operates at 25 to 27 decibels, making it a relatively quiet choice for traveling CPAP users who want a particularly unobtrusive, lightweight option.
You can manually adjust the pressure on the machine, but you also have the option to have the pressure adjust automatically, based on your breathing patterns. This AutoRamp technology allows you to start with a lower pressure and have the machine automatically adjust upward to your prescribed amount as you get closer to sleep. You can control this and other settings with the free companion app, which also provides additional sleep data.
The AirMini is compatible with three different CPAP masks: the P10 for AirMini, which is a nasal pillow; the N20, which is a regular nasal mask; and the F20, which is a full-face mask. Each type of mask comes with its own setup pack, including tubing, a humidifier, and the connector you need to use your mask with the AirMini.
The ResMed AirMini uses the waterless HumidX humidification system to help prevent sore throats and dry nasal passages. Each device comes with two small woven filters — one to use, one to keep as a backup — that you can attach to the mask tubing. The filter collects the moisture when you breathe out and recycles it to make sure you’re receiving enough humidity throughout the therapy process. Each filter lasts for 30 days.
The AirMini comes with a 30-day guarantee and a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
HDM Z2 Auto Travel CPAP Machine
Dimensions6.5" x 3.3" x 2"
Sound Level26 dBa
- Lightweight and compact
- Automatic stop and start
- Air pressure adjusts during the night
- Any CPAP user regardless of the face mask they use
- Those who normally find CPAP machines too noisy
- Shoppers with limited budgets
The HDM Z2 Auto Travel CPAP Machine is a lightweight model with a number of attractive features and an approachable price-point compared to other travel CPAP machines.
This CPAP machine is an updated version of the Z1 model, with a quieter motor that makes it ideal for traveling on airplanes or with companions. The automatic stop and start feature enables the machine to start once the mask is on your face and stop when you remove the mask. This model is designed to initially reduce pressure when you exhale, making it a suitable option for those who typically find it difficult to exhale with standard CPAP machines. It also auto-adjusts the pressure to adapt to your breathing throughout the night.
The HDM Z2 features a waterless humidifier and does not require a special mask.
This device is FAA-compliant, and it’s a good fit for destinations with limited power sources, since it features an integrated battery option to help ensure it stays powered through the night. Measuring 6.5 inches by 3.3 inches by 2 inches and weighing 10.5 ounces, this model is also small and lightweight. Additionally, the sound level is 26 decibels, which makes this model a good fit for those concerned about generating excessive noise.
ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet CPAP Machine with Heated Humidifier
Dimensions6.4" x 6.5" 8.4"
Sound Level26 dBa
- Integrated humidifier
- Automatically adjusts pressure settings
- Color LCD screen for easy-to-monitor adjustments
- Those who feel more comfortable using CPAP devices with heated humidifiers
- CPAP users who prefer automatic pressure ramping
- People who enjoy tracking their sleep data
The ResMed AirSense 10 AutoSet CPAP Machine with Heated Humidifier has many features that specifically cater to travelers. It’s also extremely portable, weighing 2.75 pounds with dimensions of 4.57 inches by 10.04 inches by 5.91 inches. And at 27 decibels, this model also generates minimal noise.
This model has an AutoSet feature that allows the machine to automatically adjust pressure levels throughout the night, based on your changing needs. The ramping feature starts therapy at a lower pressure setting, then gradually increases it to your prescribed pressure as you sleep.
The AirSense’s integrated humidifier is ideal for anyone who anticipates traveling in conditions with dry air.
The device has a color LCD screen to make it easier to navigate settings, with an ambient light sensor that adjusts screen brightness as the light levels change in your room. The device is designed with wireless technology that enables remote navigation of settings and offers the option to share sleep data with your smartphone. The accompanying app analyzes the data and provides personalized feedback.
The ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP Machine with Heated Humidifier comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
What Is a Travel CPAP Machine?
A travel CPAP machine features many of the same components as a standard CPAP machine but is typically lighter and more compact than home models, making it easier to travel with sleep apnea.
Standard CPAP machines provide a steady flow of pressurized air into the mouth to prevent airway obstruction. Travel CPAP units perform this same function but have a lightweight and portable design that enables you to pack them easily in suitcases or bring them onto planes. Most travel CPAP machines are also FAA-compliant, making it easier to travel by plane.
Another way that travel CPAP machines differ from standard CPAP units is that they may include integrated power sources that enable the machine to operate for longer periods without having to plug them in. You may also be able to purchase batteries with extended life to accommodate travel to locations that don’t have power sources readily available.
How to Find the Best Travel CPAP Machine For You
When shopping for a travel CPAP machine, it’s important to know your therapeutic needs. Since all travel and standard CPAP machines require a prescription, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition. Your doctor will inform you of specifications and features to look for in a travel CPAP machine. If you plan on using the machine in-flight, you should also make sure that the one you purchase is FAA-approved.
Your doctor will determine which pressure setting is best for you, so you should keep this number in mind while shopping for travel CPAP units. The standard range for pressure settings is 4 to 20 centimeters of water (cm H2O), but this may vary. If you are someone who finds continuous air pressure to be uncomfortable, you can look for machines with ramp features or auto-adjust settings. These features allow the machine to change the pressure settings and can help make breathing more comfortable.
Since you’ll be carrying the machine around, you may want to compare the weights and sizes of various models. This is especially relevant if you’re traveling by plane and need to economize the space in your luggage and carry-on bags.
If you anticipate being away from power sources for extended periods of time, consider a model that comes with an integrated battery. A battery can prolong the amount of time your machine runs before it needs to be recharged.
Some travel CPAP machines also include an integrated humidifier. You can choose between humidifiers that require water and those that don’t. Keep in mind that humidifiers will add some bulk and weight to your unit.
Another important feature is a machine’s decibel levels, since quieter CPAP units are less likely to disturb fellow travelers.
Other features to consider when shopping for a travel CPAP machine include:
- Ramp options
- Additional power options
- Data-tracking capabilities
- Availability of accessories
- User-friendliness of machine settings
Types of Travel PAP Machines
The term “CPAP machine” is often used to refer to any device used to treat sleep apnea. However, there are three types of machines that help treat obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. CPAP, BiPAP, and APAP machines each have their own features, and they’re all available as travel units.
Travel CPAP Machines
CPAP machines are the most popular devices used to treat OSA. The biggest difference between CPAP machines and BiPAP or APAP machines is that CPAP models deliver pressurized air at a single setting throughout the night. Some models include a ramp feature that starts off at a lower setting and gradually increases to the prescribed pressure, but CPAP machines generally only accommodate one pressure setting. These units often come with features such as smart alarms, white noise options, touchscreen LCD displays, and integrated wireless features, all of which can help you sleep well while traveling.
Travel BiPAP Machines
BiPAP stands for bi-level positive airway pressure. As with CPAP machines, these devices help treat OSA by sending compressed air through the airways. However, BiPAP machines differ from CPAP and APAP machines in that they offer two different pressure settings: one for inhalation (IPAP) and a lower pressure setting for exhalation (EPAP). Some people find it uncomfortable to breathe on CPAP machines, especially when exhaling, so BiPAP machines may be a more comfortable alternative.
Travel APAP Machines
APAP (auto-adjustable positive airway pressure) machines are similar to CPAP machines in that they send compressed air into the mouth to keep airways open during sleep. However, unlike CPAP machines, which operate on a continuous pressure setting through the night, APAP machines automatically adjust pressure settings during sleep. This allows the device to adapt to any fluctuations in your pressure needs over the course of the night.
How to Buy a Travel CPAP Machine
You can purchase travel CPAP machines at brick-and-mortar stores as well as online. Regardless of where you purchase your machine, though, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor. Retailers are not authorized to sell travel CPAP machines to customers without a prescription.
If you’re shopping for a device in person, simply present your prescription like you would at a pharmacy. If you purchase a machine online, you can typically submit a copy of your prescription via email, upload, or fax.
Shopping online may mean lower prices and more options to pick from. On the other hand, brick-and-mortar stores allow you to handle the device to determine if the fit and weight are a good match for you.
Not all retailers allow returns on travel CPAP machines, so be sure to do your research.
Some doctors and sleep clinics may also sell or rent travel CPAP machines. While this may not always be the most cost-effective route, it could be a good option if you don’t want to purchase a device.
How Much Do Travel CPAP Machines Cost?
Travel CPAP machines are typically more expensive than standard CPAP machines. While standard CPAP machines may cost between $250 to $1,000, a high-quality travel CPAP machine can run anywhere from $450 to $1,200.
When budgeting for a travel CPAP machine, keep in mind that in addition to the initial cost of the device, you will also need to pay for accessories and, eventually, replacement parts. Some of the accessories you will need to purchase are masks and headgear, since these typically are not included with the device. The mask from your standard CPAP machine may be compatible with your travel CPAP machine if they are made by the same manufacturer, but this is not always the case.
Not all travel CPAP machines have an internal humidifier. If you decide you’d like to purchase one, you can generally expect to pay about $150 or more. If you choose to purchase a CPAP model with an internal humidifier, you will still need to replace the chambers every month or so.
If you don’t have easy access to power sources during travel, you may want to invest in an integrated battery to help power your machine for longer periods of time. These typically cost between $300 and $400. Additionally, you may want to purchase other accessories like disposable filters, extra masks and tubing, power adapters, DC converters, USB cables, and cleaning supplies.
Keep in mind that insurance often does not cover travel CPAP machines or accessories, and many retailers do not accept returns on devices that have been opened.
Health Insurance and Travel CPAP Machines
Health insurance companies often cover standard CPAP machines, as they are considered a Class II medical device by the FDA. Standard CPAP machines are usually categorized as “durable medical equipment” in health insurance plans and must be deemed medically necessary by a medical provider.
Travel CPAP units, on the other hand, are often seen by insurance companies as luxury items, which means they may not be covered. Since each insurance plan is different, it is important to contact your insurance provider and read your benefits to determine if your plan offers reimbursement for this device.
Traveling With a CPAP Machine
When traveling with a CPAP machine, it’s important to plan ahead and try to anticipate which accessories you might need.
Make sure you have all the necessary items to keep your travel CPAP machine powered throughout your journey. This is where an integrated battery might be useful. If you are traveling to another country, find out if you will need a converter in order to plug in your unit.
Pack an extra mask and extra tubing in the event that you lose these items, as it’s not always easy to find replacement parts while traveling. You’ll also want a supply of disposable filters and cleaning supplies so you can regularly clean your machine.
If you are planning to fly, make sure that your travel CPAP machine is TSA-friendly and approved for use on airplanes. On the day of travel, consider placing your CPAP machine in a clear bag to prepare it for security screening at the airport. Be ready to provide a copy of your prescription in case the TSA requires verification. Also, keep in mind that CPAP machines should not count as a carry-on item for customers with diagnosed sleep apnea.
Once you’re seated, check the area for power outlets so that you can plug in the CPAP machine if necessary. If you have an integrated humidifier and you plan to use your CPAP machine in-flight, be sure to purchase several bottles of distilled water to clean and fill your humidifier.