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users of cpap machines

2020 Camino Guides

akles

New Member
Hi there. I am planning to walk the El Camino Frances beginning of June. I can't leave home without my cpap. This is gonna require electricity since batteries are way to heavy. Has anyone else traveled with their cpap? Do the albergues offer beds close to electrical outlets or is this wishful thinking. I am counting down the days.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Most albergues have electrical points. They can be in demand for cell phones, cameras etc but you should be OK. Take a Spain plug converter.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I had been using a cpap for some years before walked the Camino Frances in 2010, but didn't take it on the Camino. I can go without it without too much trouble for a few days, and took a bit of a risk on the effects not being too bad for the month I was away. Snoring was an issue. though.

You asked:
akles said:
Do the albergues offer beds close to electrical outlets or is this wishful thinking. I am counting down the days.
My experience was that they don't always, and you might have to be careful about where you stay. In some places I stayed, there were no power points in the dormitories, or those that were were not near the beds. Other albergues were well fitted out, with power points near every bed.

Having said that, because I wasn't travelling with my cpap, I didn't have to worry about this, and so I never asked about being given a bed with a power point nearby. I expect you would quickly find out whether that was going to be possible. I think it will be a matter of asking the hospitalero when you arrive, and working out with them what arrangements can be made.

Regards,
 

summerthor

New Member
I don't use a cpap, but brought a cell phone with me. It was always a scramble to find an outlet and there was never one within easy reach of my bed at an albergue. About halfway through the trip I started staying in cheap hotels (also known as "hostels" there... "hostels" in Spain will be private rooms but you may share a bathroom) because of a bedbug infestation at the albergues. Most of the hotels/hostels had plugs within reach of the bed with an extension cord. These places are more expensive (I spent 25-35 euro a night) and you don't get the same experience as you would in a shared albergue, but there are advantages as well. Are you sure the cpap will work on 220v? If not you will have to carry a heavy inverter as well.
 

mishmumkin

New Member
As someone who might be sharing space with you, I'm curious to know how much noise the machine creates?
 

YMIwalkin'

New Member
Oh boy, the CPAPs I have been around are very noisy, snoring is hard enough to sleep thru, this could really stress your bunk mates. Maybe the hostel/hotel idea is the safest for you, and easiest on the people around you. And aren't they heavy?
 

monarchs

New Member
I am planning my Camino and have a concern about my CPAP machine. I am currently researching mouthpieces that can be used as an alternative for the trip. Speak to your doctor/dentist about these devices and it may be possible to eliminate the machine during your Camino.
For those that have not been around the newer CPAP machines, they are quieter than the fan on my computer. Best of luck to you on this.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
In 2009, I walked with a man from Pamplona who used a CPAP. We walked together for about two weeks and he never had a problem finding a way to plug it in at night.

And, as an aside, I have to say that having a constant white noise going like a CPAP machine is a blessing. The problem with snoring is that it´s irregular and starts and stops. The CPAP is just like having a loud fan going all night long, and it masks the snoring noise. It occurred to me that the albergues ought to plug one in in all the sleeping rooms and everyone would sleep a lot better. :D
It is true that if you wake up in the middle of the night and see someone with a CPAP machine on his-her face, it may scare the living daylights out of you till you gather you wits! Buen camino, Laurie
 

AnneCamille

New Member
I'm not planning on walking with my CPAP because of the weight and because my apnea is not so severe that i can go without it. Though I do know that I will snore without it. I agree with others -- the 'white noise' from a cpap is not bad and certainly preferable to someone snoring.
 
We have had pigrims with cpap machines staying with us when we are volunteer hospitaleros and there has never been a problem - just be sure to ask for a bed near a socket - you will also get priority for use of sockets over mobiles etc! Enjoy!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
YMIwalkin' said:
Oh boy, the CPAPs I have been around are very noisy, snoring is hard enough to sleep thru, this could really stress your bunk mates. Maybe the hostel/hotel idea is the safest for you, and easiest on the people around you. And aren't they heavy?
I have been using CPAP for more than a decade, and the machines available in that time have been almost silent, certainly below the noise level that would be disruptive to all but the lightest of sleepers.

There might be some extra noise if the mask slips or the hose connection breaks away if it is put under too much tension. Most machines I have seen will stop if this happens, as well as the wearer waking up.

I normally travel with my CPAP, and used it in dormitories where there have been groups of people on the same trip, and never had the other people in the room complain about the noise. Perhaps they understood the risk that without it, my snoring would be far worse than any noise from the CPAP machine.

I think the views expressed here are overly alarmist, and certainly don't reflect my experience using CPAP machines over more than a decade at home and while travelling in groups and with my spouse.
 

Camino-Kiwi

New Member
I walked the Camino Frances, from Roncesvalles, in 2004, carrying my CPAP. Yes, it was very heavy. Yes, I wished I could do without it, but No, I can't. No, it is not noisy; no more than the fan on a desktop computer. Yes, it is MUCH quieter than the snoring! (And Yes, I can honestly say that I NEVER added to the symphony of snores - you can't snore when you are using a CPAP!). Yes, a few albergues I had to walk past, because they had no electricity,(or no power-points), but not many (three, I think). I carried a 10-metre extension lead, which I had to use 3 or 4 times. And most importantly, I carried a letter, in Spanish, explaining my need for a power-point. I was glad to be able to use that, several times.

A few years ago, I posted an entry on the Confraternity of St James webite, under Infrequently Asked Questions (see http://www.csj.org.uk/i-faqs.htm#electricity). This includes the text of the letter I carried.

"I suffer from Sleep Apnoea and have to travel with a CPAP machine"
The basic answer is that yes the refugios do have power (220 volts), but whether there would be an outlet near your bunk (or even in the dormitory) is another matter. Some might. I suspect that many wouldn't. I base this on seeing mobile phones left on charge in various parts of the refuges, but not necessarily adjacent to their owners' bunks (the obvious place if you want to keep an eye on them). On the whole, the refugios offer simple basic accommodation, and I doubt if many of them have installed a more comprehensive electricity supply than they have to. I know of one which only has sufficient power for lighting, not for anything that draws a higher amperage

In addition, there is a certain competition for bunks: near the washrooms for those who need to get up in the night; on the lower level, for those who don't like climbing up; near the door for those who want to leave early. Needing a bunk near an electrical socket could - for example - put you in conflict with somebody who just must have that bunk because ... I mustn't over-emphasise this, but you'd better be warned.

The dormitories tend to be noisy at the best of times, with the ubiquitous snorers, and the squeaky springs. Again, I don't know how much noise your machine makes, but do remember that you'll be sharing often cramped quarters with a great many other people.

One solution often adopted by people who can't stand the snoring is to sleep outside the dormitory (eg on one of those thin rubber mats which don't soften the floor, but do keep the cold away). You soon get used (especially after a day's walking) to sleeping on the floor, and if you were prepared to do this when necessary - eg to be beside a socket, and away from anyone else you might disturb - it might be a solution.

There are small hotels all along, and while they're more expensive than the refugios, they do offer a possible alternative, and of course are much more likely to meet your needs.

(I see you ask about gites as well. Much the same applies, except there's not quite the same pressure on the beds. It depends on the time of year of course.)

A year or two after posting the above, we got the following message - many thanks, John !

"Greetings, from New Zealand!

My wife and I have just returned from four months in Europe, which included walking the Camino, from mid-Sept to early Nov, 2004. I have severe Sleep Apnoea, which requires me to use a CPAP (Constant Positive Air Pressure) machine, in order to get any sleep. I carried my machine throughout Europe, including on the Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago.

Apart from the weight, I had no problems. A few Refugios we had to simply walk past (eg San Anton), because they had no electricity; but the vast majority have a power point somewhere, (mainly, so that people can charge their mobile phones!) As you pointed out in your reply to a question about this, you usually can't choose which bed you get to sleep in, and the power point(s) available may not be near you. I carried, in addition to the CPAP machine, a 10-metre extension lead, which I HAD to use three times, and which was useful several other times.

I also carried a letter, which my daughter had translated into Spanish, addressed to the hospitalero, explaining my need to use the CPAP machine, and that this used very little power (a concern for some hospitaleros). The other concern you mentioned, of noise disturbing other pilgrims, certainly isn't a problem with the Resmed machine I have; I think all CPAP machines nowadays are pretty quiet. Certainly, less than even a quiet snorer! I asked many people if they heard my machine; none said they had.

The only other problems, of course, are for the person carrying the machine. It adds several kg to your pack, especially with the extension cord; and you MUST keep it dry, no matter how wet everything else in your pack gets. We had continuous rain, all through Galicia, and I simply wrapped my CPAP machine in three sound plastic bags.

So - Yes, it can be done. Of course, try to do without it, if you possibly can; but if, like me, you can't, then don't let that stop you making your Camino! And it does have a couple of advantages. Because you sleep so much more soundly, you don't have to get up during the night for toilet visits. AND, you can ABSOLUTELY guarantee that you do NOT contribute any snoring to keep people awake - it is impossble to snore, when you are wearing a CPAP mask!

Here's the text of the letter I carried:

Senor <my name> sufre de Apnea y requiere la ayuda de un aparato
respiratorio para dormir. Esto significa que <Sr. xxx> necesita acceso a
una toma electrica durante la noche. La cantidad de electricidad usada es
minima, pero es esencial para su confort y salud. El enchufe debe estar en
un radio de 12 metros de donde duerme el <Sr. xxx>. Muchas gracias por su
ayuda.

Buen Camino!"
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Camino-Kiwi,
thank you for sharing this story. I hope other forum members appreciate what a magnificent effort that was. My sleep apnea is relatively mild, and I was able to walk the Camino without my CPAP machine, which saved quite some weight. I know that if I had carried it, things would have been that much more difficult. What a great effort on your part.

Regards,
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Actually, the 'white noise" might be kind of nice... when are you walking? ::grin::
 

johnnarmour

New Member
Anniesantiago said:
Actually, the 'white noise" might be kind of nice... when are you walking? ::grin::
I took my CPAP machine with me in APril 2012.
I purchased a Resmed S9 with a lithium ion battery which lasts 2 nights
Most private Alburgues had power and all had recharge popints to recharge the battery which only weighs 900 grams
 

vettesquared

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: 5 Sept - 25 Oct/2017
Starting to feel the itch again...
Most CPAP machines are very quiet, like having a table fan in the room. Beats the heck out of snoring any day!
 

S.Hardage

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Autumn 2014
Oh boy, the CPAPs I have been around are very noisy, snoring is hard enough to sleep thru, this could really stress your bunk mates. Maybe the hostel/hotel idea is the safest for you, and easiest on the people around you. And aren't they heavy?
The older ones were quite heavy, but the newer ones that break down into sections, a pump section, the water tank, and the power converter, means that the sections can be packed in different places, and maybe the water tank left at home. My pump and converter weigh about 2 pounds total. I believe some of the old models (they last forever and are probably still in use by some people) were quite noisy, but the newer ones are not. It will be noisier if the machine is placed above the person's head, quieter if placed lower. Not sure why that is. And a cpap user generates far less noise than snorers.
 

S.Hardage

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Autumn 2014
I was fretting about doing the Camino with my cpap machine. Not taking it is not an option. So I appreciate all the comments, advice, the translated letter for the alberges, and the fact that others have done it with few problems. Thank you all so much!!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I was fretting about doing the Camino with my cpap machine. Not taking it is not an option. So I appreciate all the comments, advice, the translated letter for the alberges, and the fact that others have done it with few problems. Thank you all so much!!
Hi, S. Hardage,
I've said this before, but I'll say it again, my first choice of "bunk neighbor" is someone with a CPAP. It is lovely white noise and it drowns out all of the other interferences with my sleep. My bet is that you will have a very happy following, just as people flee from the snorers, they will rush towards you like bees toward honey. In fact, if I owned an albergue, I would leave a couple of those things running every night just to help people sleep better.

Have a wonderful camino, Laurie
 

longwalker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2007 back 09 and 12 and 13
Hi there. I am planning to walk the El Camino Frances beginning of June. I can't leave home without my cpap. This is gonna require electricity since batteries are way to heavy. Has anyone else traveled with their cpap? Do the albergues offer beds close to electrical outlets or is this wishful thinking. I am counting down the days.
I have been using cpap machines for twenty nine years, without my machine I don't even take a nap. I can tell you that you needn't worry about finding a plug or a considerate pilgrim to offer you a lower bunk. On my first pilgrimage I took a thirty foot extension cord, but never needed it. One thing I did find useful was a blurb in French and Spanish that explained my cpap machine and it's necessity for power, I pasted this into my credential.
Leave the batteries at home you'll be fine.
 

longwalker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2007 back 09 and 12 and 13
I don't bother with distilled water for my equipment, in the early days of adding water reservoirs to these machines distilled water was never mentioned. These days from time to time I do rinse out the reservoir with lime away to clear the mineral deposits which are, after all, the same deposits you find in your tea kettle.
Whatever you do, don't try and save weight and space by leaving the water reservoir at home. I tried that and quickly regretted the savings.
 

longwalker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2007 back 09 and 12 and 13
Camino Kiwi,
I saw your letter on CSJ website, printed it off and have carried it inside my credential, ever since.
I would like to add my that's to the others for your letter and its translation.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: (2016), Del Norte: (2018), Finisterre: (2018)
Olvidado (to Bonar): (2019)
Hi there. I am planning to walk the El Camino Frances beginning of June. I can't leave home without my cpap. This is gonna require electricity since batteries are way to heavy. Has anyone else traveled with their cpap? Do the albergues offer beds close to electrical outlets or is this wishful thinking. I am counting down the days.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: (2016), Del Norte: (2018), Finisterre: (2018)
Olvidado (to Bonar): (2019)
It looks like it has been awhile since there was a post on this topic. I walked the Camino Frances April 28 - May 12, 2016 from SJPP to CdS and carried my CPAP without its water reservoir the whole way. I was fortunate to have an outlet every night. One night I had to borrow an extension cord to reach my bunk. The minor white noise from my machine also helped to cut the noise of others snoring. I did not carry a letter and had no problems. This was not a busy time. Don't know how it would be peak season. I did stay at some hotels in the second half of my journey (the hardest thing for me to do without was a real towel).
 
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