Topic 8: Easy tips for travelling with hearing loss

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There’s plenty to think about when you set off on holiday: passports, tours, currencies and accommodation.

But if you’re dealing with mild or complete hearing loss, the condition makes travelling a whole new ball game.

Things that most people take for granted can be more difficult, even with mild hearing loss, so it’s a good idea to consider all aspects of your holiday and figure out how you can make it easier and even more enjoyable.

Depending on your level of hearing loss, you may experience difficulties with:

  • Hearing or understanding airline boarding and in-flight announcements
  • Making reservations over the phone
  • Hearing someone knocking on a hotel door, or warning signals such as smoke alarms
  • Using public telephones, hotel phones, or mobile phones
  • Getting the most out of planned activities, such as tours, museum lectures, and live performances.

There are clever ways, however, that you can plan to avoid troubles while travelling.

Request a vibrating alarm clock

While holidays are a great time to sleep in, missing your flight or planned activity because you didn’t hear the alarm clock isn’t the kind of relaxation you were likely thinking of.

To get around this, ask for a vibrating alarm clock for your hotel room at the time of booking or when you check in. Or buy one in advance to take with you.

Instead of sounding the alarm when it’s time to wake up, these clocks vibrate gently to wake you up and ensure you’re out of bed when you need to be. There are a variety of versions available, with some attaching to the bedhead or resting under your pillow.

Sign up for text and email alerts for flight changes

It’s hard enough to hear flight announcements at the airport at the best of times, let alone when you have some degree of hearing loss. When you book your flight, many airlines will give you the option to sign up for text message or email alerts, which are sent out if your flight details change. 

This means if your gate has a last-minute switch or your flight is delayed, you won’t be caught off-guard or run the risk of being left behind.

Print out important documents

Whether you have difficulty hearing or not, printing a hard copy of your travel documents before you leave is a good idea. Access to internet services such as email aren’t guaranteed at every location and having the documents printed and ready to whip out at a moment’s notice can come in handy.

If you have hearing loss it is particularly important to do this before heading off on holiday.

That way if you’re caught in a sticky situation with a sudden change in travel plans and need to communicate with someone who doesn’t understand sign language, you can show them the relevant documents.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants

It’s understandable to be nervous about travelling when you wear a hearing aid or cochlear implant, especially for the first time, but there are steps you can take to ease your concerns.

Hearing aids

Australian Hearing recommends talking to your audiologist about borrowing an extra hearing aid to take on your holiday. That way you won’t be caught out if anything goes awry with your own.  

Be sure to pack plenty of extra batteries and if you use rechargeable batteries and are travelling overseas, make sure you have the correct adapters to connect them to a power outlet. 

If you’re travelling somewhere humid, consider packing a dehumidifier to dry your hearing aid each night to prevent moisture interfering with the device. 

Cochlear implants

These intricate hearing devices are fitted with delicate technology and need to be treated with care when travelling. Australian Hearing suggests consulting with your audiologist before you depart to ensure you have any spare parts you may need.

There is a chance your implant could set off the security gate alarm at the airport, so ask your audiologist to provide you with a letter explaining the device, that you can show security staff if necessary.

It’s also important to be aware of your implant’s ‘map’, which is essentially the settings that are specifically tailored to you. 

This map can be corrupted by X-rays and the static electricity on a conveyor belt, so it’s important to carry spare processors and parts with you on the plane rather than checking them in with your luggage. 

These little bits of preparation can go a long way towards ensuring your holiday is worry-free. 

Do you live with hearing loss? Has it ever affected your travel plans? 

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