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resmed airmini travel cpap machine

How to Travel Well With CPAP for Sleep Apnoea

Health, Travel

After a looooong trek across the world, I landed back in New York for the third time on April 30. Happily, I had a Business Class seat on Virgin Australia for the long-haul from Brisbane to LAX. It was my first BC experience and definitely memorable. Despite the comfort, however, I wasn’t able to sleep as it seemed quite warm in the cabin.

I was able to use my fancy schmancy ResMed AirMini travel CPAP machine but still no sleep. For those with sleep apnoea, before you fly, you must gain permission from the airline to use your particular model of machine. I didn’t (I had a Travel Compliance letter from ResMed stating that the machine is an approved unit but it didn’t matter) so the flight attendant called the airline’s medical team for confirmation before we took off.

resmed airmini travel cpap machine
ResMed AirMini Travel CPAP device


How I got a ResMed AirMini travel CPAP machine for $500!

On my last two overseas trips, I’ve hired the ResMed AirMini for $50/week, but since I’m overseas for 3 months this time, I had to buy one. New, they’re about $1,600+ and I didn’t want to spend that, given the cost of the trip. So I placed an ad on Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace and The Trading Post, offering to buy one for $500. Keep in mind, when you have health fund membership, you get back $500-$600 so you don’t want to be paying $1,000 for a second hand one.

One day, I received a message from someone who owns an AirMini and he said he’d switched to the O2Vent device and had no more need for his machine. I bought it from him for $500 (plus about $30 postage) and not only did it come with the F20 full-face mask ($198) and tube/hose ($25) that I needed, but it also came with:

Not only that, but the guy I bought it from has become a friend :).

Cleaning your CPAP gear

Any CPAP user knows you have to clean your machine, mask, tubes and so on, on a regular basis. When you’re travelling, you may not have 100% clean water but you still have to clean your machine.

The BEST purchase you could make – for home and travel use – is the SmartMed Ozone CPAP Disinfector ($199)!

cpap ozone disinfector
Ozone CPAP disinfecting device

Sure, you still need to wash your components but the SmartMed ensures 99.99% of bacteria is obliterated. You put your mask in an airtight container with the SmartMed and let it do its work. Takes about half an hour. Then, you connect the SmartMed to your CPAP machine’s tube (hose) and run it and it disinfects right through your machine. You can even use the SmartMed in an airtight container to disinfect other items such as toothbrushes, hair brushes, makeup applicators, etc. I’ve brought mine with me to the US and it’ll come in handy for lots of things.

When you buy used CPAP equipment, you want to be sure you’ve cleaned out the remnants of another person’s usage. What I bought was clean and well-kept but obviously I ran the SmartMed. Some odour still remained but a good wash with a scented body wash did the job.

I also bought myself a new F20 mask because the used one didn’t seal perfectly, having been used on someone else’s shaped face before. I keep the old one in reserve.

You definitely should get THIS for travel!

The other two times, I didn’t have the AirMini Mount System but let me tell you, it’s fantastic! It’s just $50 and it enables you to mount the AirMini where it’s most practical and convenient. Think about it, you may not always stay in a hotel with a good side table. The mount system allows you to mount the AirMini over the edge of a drawer or tuck it in under the mattress so if you don’t have a side table at all, it’s still off the floor. You can have your machine nice and secure on your bed frame, a wall or even the seat pocket on the plane.

AirMini mount system
AirMini Mount System

(Note: you might not have a power point in your seat to be able to use it so if that’s the case and you really need to use your machine, invest in a battery. I find that flying in Economy, I don’t need the machine because I’m not lying down. The battery is $415 but you can hire those too, for shorter trips.)

cpap battery
CPAP battery

You don’t need the soft carry case

The soft carry case that’s available for the AirMini costs $90.00! It came with the unit when I hired it but after buying my own, I almost thought I had to buy the case. Then I realised any case would do and I picked up a clever one for $8 at Kmart. It has a carry handle, an interior pocket and it’s quite compact but fits the mask and hose plus a couple of other things like tissues, lip balm, etc. In the morning, I simply put the mask in and zip up the bag to fit around the tube so it all stays nice and clean. The bag was new for my trip but it’s already dusty from the room I’m staying in, one week into my trip!

Don’t forget your travel adapter!

If you’re travelling to a country that doesn’t use the same power plugs as your country does, don’t forget to pack a travel adapter. Buy one that you only ever use for your CPAP machine so you never have to go fumbling through luggage at bedtime trying to find it. Keep it always attached to the power cord for your CPAP when travelling.

Alternate power sources for your CPAP machine

Go camping a lot? In addition to the aforementioned battery pack, you can even buy the MediStrom Solar Panel that goes with it. Charge up your battery during the day when you’re out fishing, four wheel driving or whatever else you outdoors-loving types enjoy, and sleep peacefully at night with full charge. Obviously at $320 (plus battery), you’re not going to buy this for a long weekend away. But if you are a regular camper, you wouldn’t want to be without it!

solar panel cpap
Solar panels and battery

CPAP Direct – Australia

I’m not being paid or remunerated in any way for this post, but CPAP Direct in Australia deserve great kudos for their service. Any time I have a question, they’re ready with the answers. They are true experts in CPAP, have all the latest products and offer excellent pricing on sale and hire. Staff are friendly and helpful and it seems most of them use CPAP therapy themselves. When I bought my used Air Mini, they were more than happy to test the pressure for me and make sure there was nothing wrong with it before I started using it.

Don’t kid yourself – you need your CPAP!

Even on a short trip, you must take your CPAP therapy with you. Your body needs it, your sleep will benefit and you certainly don’t want to be needing medical attention in an unfamiliar place. Explore a travel CPAP machine – hire or purchase – for your next trip. Do what I did and place an ad long before your trip so you can have time to connect with someone looking to sell one. You also need time to clean it, test it and familiarise yourself with it.

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