Spring break with hearing loss: What you need to know
If this long, dreary winter has you thinking about a spring break getaway, you probably have a lot of planning and organizing to do. Even under the best of circumstances the logistics of traveling can be complicated, but when you take your hearing loss into account, traveling can seem overwhelming. Just the thought of navigating noisy, crowded airports, staying in unfamiliar hotels and not being able to hear tour guides can be enough to make you want to throw in the towel and take a staycation instead. But with a little planning, hearing loss won’t put a damper on your spring travel plans.
Planning for paradise
Just like packing your clothing, there are a lot of factors to consider when you are packing your hearing aid essentials for a vacation. Weather is certainly an important element, especially when it comes to the performance of your hearing aids. Will the weather be cold or hot? Dry or humid? Will you be exposed to the elements a lot? Also, consider the hearing accessibility of the places you’ll be visiting, as well as the noise level. Will you need to bring any assistive listening devices (ALD) or will one be provided for you? Will you be flying to your destination or driving? If you’re flying, letting the airlines know ahead of time you have a hearing loss can help with pre-boarding and seating. Next, think about the activities you’ll be doing on your vacation. Will it be a restful vacation spent reading by the pool or will it be a more active vacation with hiking, water sports and tennis?
It’s a lot to think about. So before you head out on spring break for fun in the sun, use this comprehensive packing list as a guide to make sure your trip is smooth sailing when it comes to your hearing aids.
- Vibrating or shake awake alarm clock.
- Assistive listening device and appropriate batteries
- Extra hearing aid batteries
- Name and number of a hearing clinic in the area you’ll be traveling to
- Portable de-humidifier or dry-kit.
- AquaVault or other portable safe to lock up hearing aids (and other valuables) while swimming
- Waterproof bag (A zip-lock works fine)
- Hearing aid sleeve. This is a neoprene cover that slips over your hearing aid and protects it from sand and surf.
- Hearing aid sweat band to protect your hearing aid from perspiration
- Water resistant covers for hearing aids (not waterproof, however.)
- Carrying case
- Cleaning tools
- Battery remover
- Back-up hearing aids
Savoring spring break
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll want to protect your hearing aids. Here are some tips to make sure they continue to function properly:
- If you’re at the beach or near a pool, where your hearing aids could get wet, make sure to remove them, turn them off and store them safely in their hearing aid case.
- Never leave hearing aids poolside where they could fall in and be damaged
- Never store your hearing aid case directly in the sun. Keep it in the shade.
- Remove your hearing aids before you put on sunscreen. Once your sunscreen has dried, it’s safe to put them back in.
- Make sure to wash your hands, making sure they are free of sand, prior to handling your hearing aids.
If you’re heading to the beach this spring break, remember that most hotels are now required to offer ADA accommodations, including accommodations for those with hearing loss. Be sure to call ahead to request an ADA Hotel kit, which typically includes telephones compatible with hearing aids, TTY for outgoing telephone calls, visual and tactile alarm clocks, TV decoders, and visual and tactile safety alerting devices.
When traveling with a child with hearing loss, planning ahead is key. Popular destinations for families such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando offer comprehensive accommodations such as assistive listening headsets, video captioning and hearing loss interpreted performances and shows. Wherever the destination, make sure to ask specific questions about accommodations for your child’s hearing loss. When making hotel and airline reservations, try to speak with a real live person, and if traveling by plane, insist that your child be seated with you. Headed to the beach or to a water park? Consider packing a dry-kit or portable dehumidifier case your child’s hearing aids get wet. Ear Gear, neoprene covers for hearing aids, is also a handy take-along if you’re going to be around water. You might also want to consider ear clips, so the hearing aids don’t fall out into the sand in during active play on the beach.
Don’t let hearing loss or the fear of communication issues cause you to skip your spring break. With a little planning and smart packing when it comes to your hearing equipment, you’ll soon be poolside, listening to the sounds of the ocean or screaming your head off on a roller coaster ride without a care in the world.