Travel Tips if You Have a Hearing Loss

It is important to remember that hearing aids are tuned specifically to your hearing loss, and consistent hearing aid use can help to keep your hearing abilities sharp. Regular hearing aid use gives access to the sounds you should hear and could preserve the ability to discriminate and interpret speech sounds. Hearing aids overcome the barrier of silence and take you to a world of sound that could be daunting at first, but positively enriches your life. Traveling if you have hearing loss should not hold you back from having the full experience. However, to maximize your experiences, there are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Hearing aids are safe and can be used wherever you go

Maybe you are traveling for leisure, work, or have other obligations. Remember, hearing is not only crucial for a more comfortable conversation but also to stay alert. This could be when crossing a road, while driving and listening to indicators and signals, or when traveling and you need to hear announcements at an airport. Many people with hearing loss are worried that they may not be able to travel by air with their hearing aids or have easy access at airports because of the wireless signals that the devices can send. The good news is that you can safely travel with your hearing aids, and most countries have statements that support people when traveling with hearing loss.

Devices like hearing aids, cochlear implants, and pacemakers are exempt on airplanes because they don’t emit signals that might interfere with aircraft controls when flying. So, it’s not necessary to remove your hearing aids when flying. Airport security checkpoints will also not put you at risk as hearing aids should not be affected by x-ray inspection or when you walk through metal detectors. If you have any concerns about your specific device, it would be advisable to check with particular manufacturers. To put your mind at rest, consider the following:

  • ask for a full-body pat-down inspection instead of going through security detection
  • show your device to the airport security officer for visual and physical examination and inform them of your hearing disability
  • some countries provide hearing disability identification cards that can be worn when traveling for peace of mind.

*Cochlear implant (CI) users should take note that specific safety recommendations apply for CI users when going through security checkpoints or gates at the airport and where metal detectors are used. Your cochlear implant center can support any concerns you have.

Tips for traveling with hearing loss

Traveling involves a lot of planning and preparation. You may be traveling for work-related purposes, for leisure, or to explore unknown places. The following general tips are guidelines of things to think about should you have hearing loss.

  • Plan and prepare in advance: Some hotels can provide accommodation, especially for people with hearing loss if they’re informed in advance. If you have hearing loss, it can be helpful if there are rooms with assistive technological support that can include flashing lights for the phone or doorbell. If you’re traveling with a tour group, it’s helpful to tell the tour company you travel with about your hearing needs. Museums, banks, concert halls, taxis, public sites, and conference centers that you may visit often have specialized loop systems or assistive equipment for people with hearing loss, signage will indicate if it is available.  These devices can link to a hearing aid via telecoil, and improve your ability to hear in those places. When you travel, it is also beneficial to pre-book restaurants, you may prefer a quiet corner when dining at a restaurant to make hearing easier.
  • How much do you know about the place or people where you are going? It is much easier to listen and follow information if you get background knowledge about a place you want to visit, that way you’ll be familiar with the names of sites in the area and may know what to expect.
  • Inform others about your hearing loss: It is not always easy to tell other people that you have hearing loss. Hearing loss is not always visible to others, and you may need to remind them that you need to lip-read or need good lighting to see their faces for better communication.
  • Have a back-up plan: pack additional batteries or have a backup plan, should something happen to your hearing aids. You can check if travel insurance covers your hearing aids and equipment. You may need earplugs when traveling by air to block out unwanted sounds for some quiet or when you experience sensory overload, so pack additional accessories.

Do’s and don’ts to put your mind at ease when traveling

“To do” when traveling with hearing aids.

  • Do wear your hearing aids when you travel as it is good for your hearing and listening. It is safer to hear than not to hear, and hearing helps you to explore the new environment.
  • Keep your hearing aids and their wireless features on during a flight, to hear announcements or instructions. Remember to do the same when you are with a tour group so that you don’t miss important instructions and arrangements.
  • Put your hearing aids in a safe place that is close by so that you can easily access them.
  • Remember to take your drying crystals and cleaning tools to keep hearing aids dry and clean while traveling. Hearing aid users often leave their drying crystals or dehumidifiers at home when they are away, due to their size, but smaller, more compact storage options can be useful for travelers. Remember, you may not be used to the climate and conditions of the place where you are traveling to and you don’t want to worry about keeping your hearing aids protected and dry.
  • Take extra batteries when you travel and check that you have the correct size. If your hearing aid uses disposable batteries, it would be convenient while traveling should power supply options be uncertain. If you use rechargeable batteries or hearing aids, make sure about what power supply and connections or adaptors for electrical plugs are used abroad.
  • Carry your extra hearing aid supplies, accessories, chargers, cables, and connections with you so that they don’t get lost.
  • Consider using a small durable waterproof protective case for your hearing aids, especially for those more adventurous trips.  Taking a set of retention cords to keep them on during adventurous activities or travel could give you peace of mind that they won’t easily fall off your ears.

“Don’ts” when traveling with hearing aids

  • Don’t leave them at home!
  • Don’t hide your hearing loss – inform staff, flight attendants, security officers, or others about your hearing loss and hearing aid use so that they can assist with your needs.
  • Don’t put them in your luggage – it is better to have them on your ears or in your carry-on bag that you keep with you.
  • Don’t forget to mark your hearing aid casings and accessories for easy tracking should you forget it somewhere.

Hearing loss is called a hidden disability. Although it is invisible, you can make it visible. Keeping your hearing aids on and informing others about your hearing needs is when traveling. Your hearing aids are there to support your senses, so when you travel, you can explore and take time to enjoy the new scenery and different environments. Traveling if you have hearing loss should be as easy as traveling with normal hearing.

Written byElrietha Olivier

B. Speech Therapy & Audiology; Masters in Clinical Pastoral Care

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