Now that the holidays are upon us, many locals will be heading over the San Jacinto River and through the Sam Houston National Forest (to grandmother’s house they’ll go!). But if you have hearing loss, you can’t just throw a change of clothes in an overnight bag and call it good. Traveling with hearing loss requires some prep work in advance.
Strategies for Travelers with Hearing Aids
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, preparation is key if you wear hearing aids. In addition to remembering to bring them, be sure you also do the following:
Pack extra batteries
Hearing aid batteries typically last between 5-14 days. Make sure you bring enough to last you the entire trip. Even if your hearing aids run on rechargeable batteries, bring some regular ones as backups—and don’t forget your charger!
Arrive early to your departure point
Arrive early to the airport, train station or bus terminal so you can let the ticket agent or gate attendant know about your hearing impairment. This way, you can make arrangements to ensure you don’t miss important announcements (such as that “all aboard!”). You may even be allowed to board early and grab a seat of your choosing.
Use your smartphone
Take advantage of technology by using your smartphone to text with traveling companions. This provides insurance and peace of mind in the event that you are inadvertently separated. Your phone provides you with access to public resources and apps that can help you with reservations, maps and travel alerts.
Leave your hearing aids in place
There’s no need to remove your hearing aids when you reach security checkpoints. Airport equipment and x-rays won’t cause harm to your devices. Be sure to let your TSA agent know you are wearing them before passing through the metal detector.
Keep your hearing aids in carry-on luggage
Packing your hearing aids in checked bags is a recipe for disaster should your luggage get misrouted (this has been known to happen on occasion). Besides, baggage handlers aren’t always gentle. Keep them in your carry-on luggage to ensure they are safe and won’t get lost or damaged. Better still, keep them in your ears!
Protect your aids from moisture
A waterproof case and dehumidifier or dry-aid kit are essential if you’re traveling somewhere tropical. Not only will they help protect against humidity and rain, they’ll also prevent damage from a spilled Mai Tai.
Book hearing-accessible hotel rooms
When making reservations, look for accommodations that cater to people with hearing loss. Many hotels and resorts offer hearing-accessible rooms that come with closed-caption televisions, looping systems and visual alerting devices. Your Aunt Doris probably does not have these things, so if you’re staying at a relative’s house, pack accessories that may help.
Print copies of important travel documents
It might feel quaint in the 21st century, but printing up important documents such as hotel and car rental reservations will ensure you are able to communicate effectively if you’re in a spot where the wi-fi is sketchy or traveling to a foreign country. It’s hard enough trying to communicate in your non-native tongue; add hearing loss to the mix and your “vacation” could prove more stressful than you’d hoped.
Planning ahead and following these tips will help ensure you have a smooth, carefree traveling experience. For more tips on successfully navigating a vacation with hearing loss, contact an audiologist in Houston.