Traveling with Hearing Loss

Travel is a wonderful way to take in new experiences and meet new people, and to firm up the relationships with the people you love most. Get the most out of your trip by planning to take care of hearing aids while you are away from home. Here are 10 tips for making travel with hearing aids easier so your vacation will be more fun.

Plan on wearing your hearing aids when you are in the airport and on the plane.

Although SEA-TAC is an exception to the rule, airports tend to be noisy places. They make listening a challenge. The constant roar inside the airplane cabin can be a challenge, too. You may be tempted to take out your hearing aids. Don’t!

When you wear your hearing aids, you are less likely to forget them. If you don’t take them out at the airport or on the plane, you are less likely to lose them. Hearing aids make it easier to hear boarding announcements and instructions when you are on the plane.

Although hearing aids are electronic devices, they are not electronic devices that you need to turn off when the attendant tells passengers to turn off cellphones, pad computers, and games. They won’t interfere with the operation of the plane.

Wear your hearing aids while you are going through security.

Your hearing aids won’t set off metal detectors. Nonetheless, it does not hurt to tell the TSA official that you are wearing them. You don’t want to lose your hearing aids on the conveyor belt through the x-ray machine.

Keep all your hearing aid supplies in your carry-on bag.

Claim Compass says that 28 million bags are lost on domestic flights in the US every year. About 5 percent of lost bags are never found. And even though the overwhelming majority of checked bags arrive at their intended destination, delays and missed connections are more common than ever before.

Keep your cleaning kit, your batteries, and your hearing aid accessories in your carry-on. They will be there if you need them.

Make a habit of relying on visual cues.

Even people who are not hearing impaired often have problems hearing in airports. While you are moving through the airport and while you are on the plane, refer to signage as much as possible to get important information. Don’t be hesitant to politely ask people to repeat themselves slowly so you can understand, particularly in situations where you are using a foreign language.

Keep in mind that your hearing can become fatigued.

When you are driving in a new location, all of your senses are on alert. Straining to hear can result in some anxious moments that lead to general fatigue. That tired feeling you get from traveling long distances along with jet lag doesn’t help.

Minimize distracting noise.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that noise is a factor in about one in 50 fatal car crashes. Listening to the radio or an audio book or singing along with other passengers can break the monotony of a road trip, but it can interfere with driving. When you are driving, take out the ear buds, turn off the radio, and encourage other passengers to pursue quiet activities.

Use remote mics.

When you are traveling by car or truck, and especially when you are traveling by helicopter, it can be difficult to hear your fellow passengers. Use a mic and headset to communicate with other passengers in the noisy cabin of a car, truck, or helicopter.

Don’t forget to pack the essentials.

As you pack, make a list of the essentials you need to keep your hearing aids operational through your entire trip. Here are some items to consider.

  • Cleaning kit. Everybody gets off schedule on vacation, but, when it comes to cleaning your hearing aids, you should keep as close to your usual schedule as possible. This prevents wear and tear, especially with older hearing aids.
  • Extra batteries. Chances are that when you are away from home you will wear your hearing aids more hours a day than when you are at home. As a result, you will go through batteries quicker. It may not be possible to get the batteries you need everywhere, so it is always a good idea to pack more batteries than you think you will need.
  • Charging station and USB cable. If you wear rechargeable hearing aids, don’t forget your charging station and your charging cable! It’s easy to forget your charger and cable if you don’t make a list of things you need and check them before you leave.
  • Extra wax guards and domes. A clogged wax guard can keep you from enjoying your trip. So can a misshapen dome. Bringing extras prepares you to deal with problems as they come up.
  • Dryer or dehumidifier. If you are venturing into a damp climate, or you are spending a lot of time on or near water, you will need to place your hearing aids in a dryer or dehumidifier every night to keep them operational.
  • Bluetooth accessories. Bluetooth with a remote mic can make answering your phone or talking with a flight attendant much easier. Bluetooth can make a huge difference in how well you can hear in a crowded airport.

Ask about accommodations for hearing loss.

Many hotels have special accommodations for guests with hearing loss. The telephone or the doorbell may be connected to a flashing light, or you can get assistive technologies that enable you to hear the narration on tours. You may also be able to get assistive devices for churches, concerts, museums, and performance spaces. But you may need to book accommodations for hearing loss ahead of time.

Download schedules before you go.

No matter how you travel for your trip, whether you are going in your own car, or by bus, train, or plane, download all relevant apps into your smartphone before you go. Most carriers provide downloadable schedules and send out text alerts for changes.

Be your own best advocate.

Let people know how they can help. Ask tour guides to face you when they speak. When you are dining out, ask for quiet corner tables, or sit outside when the weather is nice. Ask your concierge where the quiet restaurants are. It never hurts to cup your hand behind your ear when you need someone to speak more clearly, slowly, or distinctly.

And we have one more suggestion: Have a backup plan. Ask Harbor Audiology about backup systems like a pocket talker or an FM system for longer trips.

If you’re planning a vacation, don’t let hearing loss get in the way of having a fun and relaxing trip.

Acknowledge Hearing Loss

When making travel arrangements, let the hotel, airline, and car rental companies know you have hearing loss. This allows them to prepare information for you in writing if necessary. It’s also important to let the TSA agents know about your hearing devices because you do not need to remove hearing aids.

Get Travel Alerts via Text Messages

If you are flying, sign up to have flight delays or gate changes sent to you via text instead of phone calls.

Find Hearing Accessible Activities

Many tours offer assisted listening devices, so you have any easier time hearing your tour guide. A number of theaters are also becoming equipped with Hearing Loop technology to help those with hearing devices hear the performance easier.

Be Prepared

Keep all necessary items for your hearing aids with you. If you’re flying, do not pack them in a checked bag. Always have extra batteries on hand, as well as a dehumidifier. Consider bringing a tablet/iPad with movies installed on it since very few airlines provide closed captioning for onboard entertainment.

Don’t let hearing loss interfere with your vacation. Contact our Gig Harbor location at (253) 203-6641, Tacoma location at (253) 617-7160 or Silverdale at 360-692-6655 or fill out our contact form for more information.

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