Traveling with Hearing Loss: Your Guide to a Safe, Enjoyable Trip!

Senior couple with hearing loss watching photos from travel on digital camera during vacation

There are two types of vacation, right? There’s the type where you cram every single activity you can into every waking second. These are the vacations that are remembered for years later and full of adventure–and you head back to work more tired than you left.

Then there are the relaxing types of vacations. These are the trips where you might not do, well, much of anything. Maybe you drink some wine. Maybe you spend a day (or two, or three) at the beach. Or maybe you spend your whole vacation at some kind of resort, getting pampered the whole time. These are the restful and relaxing types of vacations.

There’s no right or wrong way to vacation. Whichever method you choose, however, untreated hearing loss can put your vacation in jeopardy.

Hearing loss can ruin a vacation

There are some unique ways that hearing loss can make a vacation more challenging–especially if you don’t know you have hearing loss. (Look, hearing loss can sneak up on you like nobody’s business–many people have no idea they have it. They just keep turning the volume on their television up and up and up.)

The good news is that there are some proven ways to minimize the impact hearing loss might have on your vacation. (The first step, of course, will be to schedule a hearing screening if you haven’t already.) The more prepared you are ahead of time, the easier it will be to diminish any power hearing loss might have over your fun, rest, and relaxation.

How can hearing loss impact your vacation

So how can hearing loss negatively impact your next vacation? Well there are a couple of ways. And while some of them might seem a little trivial at first, they tend to add up! Some common examples include the following:

  • You can miss important moments with family and friends: Maybe your friend just told a great joke that everyone loved–except you couldn’t make out the punchline. When you have untreated hearing loss, you can miss important (and enriching) conversations.
  • You can miss out on the vibrancy of a new place: When what you’re hearing is muted, your experience may be muted as well. After all, you could miss out on the unique bird calls or humming traffic noises that make your vacation spot unique and memorable.
  • Language barriers become even more challenging: It’s hard enough to deal with a language barrier. But untreated hearing loss can make it even more difficult to decipher voices (especially in a noisy situation).
  • You miss important notices: Maybe you’re waiting for your train or aircraft to board, but you never hear the announcement. And as a result, your entire vacation schedule is thrown into absolute chaos.

Of course, if you’re wearing your hearing aids, some of these negative impacts can be mitigated and minimized. Which means the best way to keep your vacation on track and stress free is to take care of your hearing needs before you start.

How to prepare for your vacation when you have hearing loss

All of this isn’t to say that hearing loss makes a vacation impossible. That’s nowhere near true! But it does mean that, when you have hearing loss, a little bit of extra planning and preparation can help ensure your vacation goes as smoothly as possible. (Of course, that’s pretty common travel advice no matter how good your hearing is.)

Here are a few things you can do to ensure hearing loss doesn’t negatively impact your next vacation:

  • Do some pre-planning: It’s okay to remain spontaneous to a degree, but the more planning you do ahead of time, the less you’ll have to figure things out on the fly (and that’s when hearing loss can present more challenges).
  • Clean your hearing aids: It’s a good idea to make sure your hearing aids are clean and functioning properly before you hop on a plane, train, or automobile. This can help prevent issues developing while you’re on your vacation. It’s also a good idea to make sure your recommended maintenance is up to date!
  • Pack extra batteries: There’s nothing worse than your hearing aid dying on day 1 because your batteries went dead. Always make sure you bring spares! Now, you might be thinking: can I have spare batteries in my luggage? Well, maybe–check with your airline. (Some types of batteries must be kept in your carry-on.)

Hearing aid travel tips

Once all the planning and preparation is done, it’s time to hit the road! Or, well, the airways, maybe. Many people have questions about flying with hearing aids–and there are definitely some good things to know before you head to the airport.

  • Do I have to take my hearing aids out when I go through TSA security? You can wear your hearing aids through the security screening process. (It’s usually a good idea to let the TSA agents know you’re wearing them.) If there is any kind of conveyer belt or X-ray machine, make sure your hearing aids do not go through that belt. Conveyer-belt style X-ray machines can create a static charge that can damage your hearing devices.
  • Will I be able to hear well in an airport? That depends–some airports are quite noisy during certain times of the day. But most modern airports will have a telecoil device installed throughout many areas. This is a simple wire device (though you’ll never see that wire–just look for the signs) that makes it easier for you to hear with your hearing aids–even when things are noisy and chaotic.
  • Should I know my rights? It’s not a bad idea! In general, it’s good to familiarize yourself with your rights before you travel. (If you have hearing loss, you’ll have many rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.) But essentially it boils down to this: information must be accessible to you. So if you feel like you’re missing out on some info, self-identify as having hearing loss and someone should offer a solution.
  • Is it ok to fly with hearing aids in? You won’t have to turn your hearing aids off when you get that “all electronics must be off” spiel. That said, you may want to enable flight mode on hearing aids that rely heavily on wifi or Bluetooth connectivity. You may also want to let flight attendants know you have hearing loss–as there may be announcements throughout the flight that are hard to hear.
  • How useful is my smartphone? This will not be surprising, but your smartphone is very useful! Once you land, you can use this device to adjust the settings on your hearing aid (if you have the right type of hearing aid), find directions to your destination, and even translate foreign languages. If your phone is prepared to do all that (and you know how to use all those apps), it may take some stress off your ears.
  • Is it ok to wear my hearing aids longer than usual? Most hearing specialists will recommend that you wear your hearing aids all day, every day. So, any time you aren’t sleeping, showering, or swimming (or in a super noisy environment), you should be wearing your devices.

Life is an adventure–and that includes vacations

Whether you have hearing loss or not, vacations are unpredictable. Not everything is going to go right all the time. That’s why it’s important to have a good attitude–treat your vacation like you’re embracing the unexpected.

That way, when something unexpected happens (and it will), it’ll feel like it’s all part of the plan!

Of course, the flip side to that is that preparation can go a long way. With the right preparation, you can make sure you have options when something goes wrong–so an inconvenience doesn’t grow into a disaster.

For those with hearing loss, this preparation often begins by getting your hearing tested and making sure you have the equipment and care you need. And that’s true whether you’re visiting every museum in New York City (vacation type number one) or hanging out on a beach in Mexico (vacation type number two).

Want to make sure you can hear the big world out there? Find a hearing specialist near you!

Want more information?

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