Now that it’s autumn and we are inundated with pumpkin spiced everything, the holiday travel season is fast approaching. While many of us look forward to family gatherings with far-away relatives, those with hearing loss might look less fondly upon the season. The fact is, traveling with hearing loss can be stressful – but there are tips to make it less of a burden and get you from Point A to Point B with your sanity intact. Once there you might be forced to contend with Aunt Mildred’s fruitcake, but that’s a problem for another day, right?
Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Travel
Living with hearing loss is challenging enough. Traveling with it can be extra stressful as you attempt to navigate busy airports, noisy crowds, ignorant cab drivers and well-intentioned but clueless bellhops. With a little upfront preparation, the experience will go a whole lot more smoothly. The following strategies will help ensure an easier trip.
- Plan in advance. Make as many arrangements ahead of time as possible. When you are living with hearing loss, communication can be difficult on the best of days. Even those who interact with the public on a regular basis, such as ticket agents and motel clerks, can have trouble when dealing with the hearing impaired. Don’t let their lack of experience ruin your trip! Hire a travel agent to make your reservations (we think a few still exist), or book everything online.
- Print hard copies of everything. Written confirmations are essential when traveling. Print up copies of all important documents pertaining to your trip, including reservation confirmations, booking receipts, itineraries, and more. This is particularly important when traveling to a foreign country, where language barriers can compound hearing loss.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Airports, train stations, and bus terminals are usually crowded and noisy places, putting you at risk of missing boarding announcements and other important information. Inform the ticket representative or flight attendant of your hearing loss and ask if you can be notified personally when it’s time to board or embark. Most people will be happy to help! After all, you are “flying the friendly ”
- Check in when checking in, too. When checking in to your hotel, be sure to let the front desk staff know about your hearing impairment, as well. Many lodging facilities have special accommodations for hearing impaired guests such as visual alert devices for telephones, clocks, and fire alarms. They’ll want to ensure your safety in the event of an emergency.
- Pack for your trip. Traveling somewhere warm and humid? Be sure to bring along a dehumidifier. Don’t forget other essentials, such as cleaning kits, wax guards, and plenty of batteries. If your destination includes a tour or lecture, an accessory such as an assistive listening device can help ensure you are able to hear adequately in crowded, noisy areas.
- Prepare your hearing aids for traveling. If you wear hearing aids, be sure to prepare them in advance. It might be a good idea to schedule a clean-and-check appointment with your audiologist to ensure there are no problems that might creep up when you’re away from home. Make sure to pack hearing aids in your carry-on luggage rather than checked bags, which may end up lost or misrouted. It’s usually perfectly safe to run your hearing aids through security detectors, but just in case, let the TSA agent know you are wearing them before walking through the metal detector.