Hearing loss can add an extra obstacle to traveling, which can be stressful enough without any problems. As summer begins, lots of people are planning their vacations—perhaps you are going on a cruise, or to Europe, or to Disney World! Audicus has compiled some tips and tricks that will help you plan and maneuver your vacation with hearing loss, keeping in mind the complications that hearing loss might bring.
What to pack as a traveler with hearing loss? If you wear hearing aids, the most important thing to remember is your hearing aids, their case, and an extra battery (if you have one). Pack all your hearing aid accessories in your carry on, rather than your suitcase or other checked baggage, if you’re flying—losing your hearing aids is a sure way to ruin a trip! If you’re visiting a particularly wet or humid location, bring a hearing aid dryer as well.
If you’re traveling alone or with a group of people with hearing loss, it is also a good idea to pack a notebook to have on hand. Having a nearby pen and paper can made communication with those outside of your group much easier and can come in handy when talking with hotel employees, airport personnel, or locals trying to give you restaurant recommendations!
Airports are a necessary evil for all travelers and navigating airports with hearing loss is no joke. Legally, Airports in the US are legally required to broadcast announcements via visual systems, meaning anything said over the loudspeaker will also be announced via a screen that you can read. However, these might be hard to find so it is imperative that you identify yourself as someone with hearing loss to airport personnel. They can help you find your gate and direct you to a TV where you can read important announcements. Also if you’re traveling solo, make friends with your seatmate and ask them to communicate in-flight announcements to you—most people are more than willing to help!
If you have a smartphone, download the airline app and make sure notifications are turned on. You will get all important announcements delivered to your phone—for instance, if the flight is delayed or if the gate has changed. It is also important to know that you can keep your hearing aids switched on during the flight, even when all other electronic devices have to be turned off. This rule does not apply to hearing aids.
When in Rome…
If you’re traveling to a foreign country where they speak another language, make sure to bring a translation dictionary to communicate with locals. Most Western countries speak English at least a little bit, but everyone always appreciates when you try to speak their language! Indicate, if possible, that you’re hard of hearing by showing your hearing aids. If a local is speaking to you in English, it’s likely they will speak slowly and loudly anyway, so you might be able to hear them.
Traveling with hearing loss is not that different than living with hearing loss in everyday life—the most important thing is to plan ahead, bring all your equipment, and get to your destination. Once you’re there, you can relax and enjoy yourself, hearing loss and all.