Holiday travel with hearing loss
Not to put you in a panic or anything, but the busy holiday season is almost upon us. For the more than 48 million Americans with hearing loss, that might mean difficulty navigating crowded stores or problems participating in conversations during those noisy holiday office parties. Fortunately, a bit of preparation can go miles in reducing stressful situations, which is why we’ve providing this handy travel guide. Use these simple suggestions for holiday travel with hearing loss so you can focus on being the life of the party.
What to pack
If you’re visiting relatives or planning to travel someplace fun, make a list of what to pack a day or two ahead of time to ensure you don’t forget any of your hearing device essentials. Here’s a checklist of the basics:
- Extra batteries
- Cleaning kit
- Assistive listening devices
- Hearing aid accessories
- Plastic bags or water-resistant hat if your plans include water activities
- Adapter for your charger if you’re traveling abroad
You also might want to schedule a quick trip to see your hearing healthcare professional and clue them in on what listening situations you’ll be experiencing while you’re away. Together, you can determine what adjustments, if any, need to be made to your hearing devices so you can hear effectively on vacation.
Travel by public transportation
Traveling by plane, train or bus? According to Conde Nast Traveler, Nov. 25 is the busiest day to travel (by air) for Thanksgiving and the least busy is Nov. 30. Dec. 23 is the busiest day for Christmas travel, with Dec.27 the least congested. Regardless of when you head out, you can most likely expect to find yourself in some noisy listening environments. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re hearing important information:
- Check the website or call ahead to ask about services for those with hearing loss. Many facilities require at least two weeks’ advance notice for sign language interpretation, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time if this is a service you require.
- Tell an attendant about your situation when you arrive.
- Pack necessary travel documents in an easy to reach place.
Remember, it’s okay to walk through the airport security check wearing your hearing devices. Do not place them on the conveyer belt or in the plastic bins, as that may generate static electricity. Also, you do not need to turn off your hearing aids on an airplane when the flight attendant tells you to turn off electronic devices.
Travel by automobile
If you’re fortunate to live in a climate where winter weather travel is safe and enjoyable, buckle up! You won’t have to pass through security or worry about hearing last minute gate changes, but you may have other challenges. Here are some suggestions:
- Consider purchasing an extra wide rearview mirror so you can see more of your surroundings.
- If you’re traveling with passengers and are a lip reader, make sure your inside lights are working so you can turn them on and see faces better.
- If you’re the driver and rely on texting or emailing for conversations, don’t compromise safety. Pull to the side of the road to send or receive these messages or ask one of your passengers to act as your reader and scribe.
- Ask your hearing healthcare professional about purchasing an assistive listening device that will improve your ability to hear conversations while traveling in the car.
When you arrive
Relax, of course, but make sure you’re set up for hearing success.
- Find a safe place for your hearing aids and accessories.
- Print return boarding passes as soon as possible.
- Pack travel documents in an easy-to-reach place.
Since holiday cheer might just come with a little holiday fear, travel prep is essential to navigating the holiday crowds this season. Braving the mobs of people in airports and train stations can be a frightening thought, but it’s not as scary as it may seem. If you plan accordingly, you’ll be participating in the conversation — regardless if you’re unwrapping gifts by the Christmas tree with your loved ones or practicing a new language with locals in a faraway destination.