Tips For Traveling With Hearing Loss

Traveling when you have hearing loss can be challenging, but that’s no reason to miss out on discovering new locales. Follow these tips to have a safe and rewarding adventure.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

Prepare in Advance

Before booking a hotel, ask about available accommodations for people with hearing loss. Many hotels, especially in developed countries, have rooms with specific amenities for people with hearing loss (e.g., flashing lights for the phone and doorbell) if you request them in advance. If you are traveling with a tour company, alert them to your accommodation needs. They may be able to help.

Many museums in large cities provide hearing loops or other assistive technology if you request it. The same goes for theaters and other performance spaces. Send an email to the venues for up-to-date information.

Learn about your destination before you go. Familiarize yourself with the names of places, important historical figures and the like. That way when you hear these names, they will sound more familiar and be easier for you to understand.

Use Technology For Logistics

Whether you are traveling by plane, train, or automobile, download all relevant apps onto your smartphone before you go. Most airlines and train company apps include timetables and provide alerts for gate changes or delays. Practice using the apps before you go so you are prepared if you have trouble on your trip.

Advocate For Yourself

Inform your tour guides and fellow travelers about your hearing loss and provide specific suggestions on how they can help you hear your best. Tell your guides that you will stay close to them so you can better hear and see their face for lipreading. Kindly request them ahead of time to speak clearly and only while facing the group whenever possible.

Have an assistive listening device (e.g., pocket talkers or FM systems) handy in case you’ll need to transmit the guide’s voice directly to your hearing aids, blocking out background noise.

When dining out, request for quiet corner tables at restaurants or sit outside when the weather is nice. Ask your hotel concierge to suggest quieter restaurants so you can reserve a table.

Remind People What You Need

People often forget about hearing loss because it is invisible, so don’t be shy about reminding others of your needs. A gentle prompt like holding your hand behind your ear often works well and does not disrupt the flow of dialogue. Save non-critical clarification questions for a quiet moment or break, but be sure to ask them. When logistical information is provided, request it in written form. Carry a notebook and pen in your bag to make that an easy process.

Bring Ear Protection

Traveling can be loud! In cities, traffic and construction noise are everywhere. Attending a musical performance is a great way to experience a new place, but the volume can be unsafe. Don’t be afraid to turn down or remove your hearing aids and wear ear protection when needed. Bring extra earplugs to share with your traveling companions.

Bring Extra Batteries and Chargers

Your devices won’t work without power. Be sure to bring a sufficient supply of batteries and extras. Replacement batteries may be harder to find in unfamiliar locations. Pack a supply of batteries in different travel bags in case one gets misplaced. Check that all your chargers are working well and bring an extra if available.

Have A Back-Up Plan

Having your hearing aids on the fritz can be troubling at anytime, but when you are far away from home and your audiologist — in another country, for example — it can feel like a disaster. Set a back-up plan before you go and test it out so you can easily implement it if needed. Examples include using a pocket-talker, an FM system, or connecting a high-quality headset to an app like EarMachine on your smartphone. If you have spare hearing aids, bring those too.

Readers, what tips do you have for traveling with hearing loss?

A version of this article was originally published in The Hearing Journal. Reproduced with their permission.   

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20 thoughts on “Tips For Traveling With Hearing Loss

  1. When flying, go to the departure gate and let the agent know that you are hearing impaired and will not be able to hear boarding announcements. As a result, I have been seated in reserved sections and been the first to board.

  2. My worst travel nightmare was my fault. I am a bilateral cochlear implant user with rechargeable batteries. While traveling to my son’s college graduation I forgot to pack the plug that recharges the batteries meaning I wouldn’t be able to hear his graduation ceremony. Thank goodness Radio Shack was still in business. My husband was able to rig something to charge the batteries. I now travel with a back of disposable batteries and cases for them.

  3. I usually always fly UNITED and they have priority boarding lanes which is listed on your ticket so you know when to board. I found in the past asking an agent to alert me when it was my time to board was not very effective. I’ve also stayed in a few hearing accessible rooms in the past and did not find them to be very accommodating as far as alert devices. Most of the time all they do is come in and install a TTY or flashing alarm clock when you arrive . The nicer hotels like Ritz Carlton may offer blinking door alerts so you can at least do room service without constantly checking the peep hole or waiting for a knock! But the negative side to booking these rooms is that you are advertising you are deaf of hearing impaired and for security reasons may be risky if you are traveling alone.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences. I do like when information is available on your ticket or via an app. That way you don’t need to rely on the gate agent to remember to alert you.

  4. The last time I flew i was alone and quite frankly felt just a tad vulnerable. You know – deaf old guy – alone. I seldom fly and even more seldom do I fly alone. I never understood a word from the PA system. It was on Thanksgiving day from Tampa through JFK and on to Portland Maine Right on the top of my ticket was the word “DEAF”. It might as well have said “Roast Turkey” for all the difference it made. Nevertheless, it was my responsibility. I decided that I would present myself at the head of the line as it began to form and board as soon as it was possible. It worked. If I am lucky, it won’t have to work again.

    I apologize for the negative tone, but negative is what comes up when I consider air travel these days. I wish it were not so.

  5. Southwest Airlines accommodates customers with Hearing Loss if you tell them or click on Disability online. The ticket is coded DF, if I remember correctly. I go to the Steward at the gate, and they allow me to board with other persons with disabilities and those flying with small children.

  6. I did the same with my Yoga teacher and it worked somehow. I told her I use hearing aids and she made sure I had a spot in front of her so I could see or follow her lead, since it was my first time ever doing yoga , I had to see the moves.I will use this phrase though, I have no problem with telling people I cant hear very good , I am a little bit deaf will make them aware that I am not joking or anything, I am 44 so not everyone sees me as a hearing impaired….
    Thank you for the article:)

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