Travel is an important aspect of our lives. Whether for business or vacation, traveling can be as stressful as it is enjoyable. And for more than 35 million people in the U.S. with hearing loss, travel can be especially difficult. Just because you may have hearing loss doesn’t mean you can’t lead the life you love and go on that trip you’ve been dreaming of. If you enjoy traveling and you have hearing loss, that doesn’t mean you have to stop! Below are a few tips to ensure safe and happy travels.
Have Your Hearing Aids Checked Before You Travel
Before leaving on any trip, make sure your hearing aids are working properly by having them checked by a hearing health professional.
Set your phone to Vibrate
Make sure to sign up for travel alerts via email or text to avoid missing a flight. Make sure the vibration setting is turned on your phone. That way if something changes, you’ll receive a notification, and nothing will take you by surprise. Gate and flight attendants sometimes forget to notify people of changes.
Notify Your Accommodation
Contact your hotel ahead of time, to notify them of your hearing loss, and request any accommodations you might need. In case of an emergency, the hotel staff will know to check on you, or may be able to place you in a room with flashing warning lights rather than a sound alarm. Hotels should offer a simple remote to activate the television’s closed captions, wake/shake/visual alerts and a hearing-aid-compatible telephone or TTY, depending on your needs.
Research and Communicate
Research the places you plan to visit ahead of time to determine the access available. You might be able to get an assistive device to help you hear the tour guide, or a handheld device with subtitles at the theatre.
If you spot an opportunity for improvement, let staff know. Advocating for change will help everyone. If the closed captioning on your hotel room TV is complicated, or if there is no ADA kit available for a visual alarm clock/smoke detector, the hotel should be alerted immediately, and tour guides should have accommodations in place. In advocating for accessibility, you’ll be helping the next hard of hearing traveler.
Use Online Resources
Google Translate is a great way to help ease communication abroad. In order to make common requests easier, just type a few common phrases and Google Translate will automatically translate them. A free app is also available for your phone.
Having a map handy will help make it easier to find your way around or ask for directions, especially when you might have a hard time understanding the locals otherwise. And don’t be shy to ask tour guides and other professionals for help when needed. After all, that’s why they’re there.
Make sure you pack extra batteries and back-ups of your hearing aids. Running out of batteries can be a major setback for fun vacation plans. Pack a portable dehumidifier to dry out your hearing aids if you’re planning to travel to a humid location. Sweat and humidity may affect their performance, so it’s best to be prepared with a dehumidifier that you can use at night.
Keep all your important items close to you at all times. Take all your supplies in a hard case in your carry-on bag to ensure everything remains intact. Store the bag in your in-room safe to avoid potential theft or loss, and check your homeowner’s policy to confirm coverage when traveling domestically and internationally.
If you are in a noisy environment and having trouble hearing, bring a paper and pen with you to communicate. This can alleviate a lot of stress. Load an iPad with movies for your trip, since very few airlines offer closed captioning for in-flight programming.
Keep them Clean!
As you move from place to place, remember to keep your hearing aids clean by wiping them down every night. Remember, hearing aids can gather bacteria on airplanes and at tourist spots.
Traveling with hearing loss or hearing aids may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Planning ahead and knowing how to prepare for a trip is the key to making it a great experience, so visit us at Glendora Hearing to ensure you’ll be ready for a great vacation.