Does this sound familiar? – rushing to make sure you have everything packed before you go on vacation. Getting to your destination and realizing that you forgot something important. Sometimes, it may be something as simple as a toothbrush, but if you have hearing loss, forgetting hearing aid or cochlear implant batteries, or other important technology, can really impact your trip. Here are 10 Tips for Travelling When You Have a Hearing Loss – be sure to follow these tips to make sure that your trip goes smoothly:
1. Make a Checklist: Everybody has different technology needs, so it is important to make a checklist designed for you. Make sure to include chargers, cleaning tools, remotes, spare batteries, and drying cases.
2. Have a Small Bag Designated for Hearing Technology: It may be helpful to have a small bag for all of your technology. Sometimes you may be digging everywhere in your suitcase thinking that you forgot something just to find it hidden between clothes. A bag specifically for hearing technology which will fit inside your suitcase can prevent this.
3. Keep Important Supplies in Your Carry On Bag: If you are flying to your destination, make sure to keep your hearing technology and all accessories in your carry on bag. In most cases, expensive technology cannot be easily or quickly replaced if your suitcase is lost.
4. Put Spare Batteries Everywhere: If your hearing technology requires batteries, put some in every bag you are bringing (and maybe ask a friend if they can hold onto a pack too, just in case!). Having them easily accessible at all points during your trip will reduce the stress that comes from a battery dying during a guided tour, or in the middle of a play, and not having spares on hand. Also, make sure you know what size batteries you need, in case you need to purchase batteries on your trip.
5. Sign Up For Travel Notifications: Getting the electronic e-mail or text notifications from the airline or travel company will help you in the event a flight is cancelled, delayed, or the gate has changed. It can be hard to hear the overhead announcements while in a busy airport or station, so this prevents confusion.
6. Notify the Airline When You Get to the Airport: Notifying an attendant at the gate that you are a person with hearing loss, and telling them where you are going to be sitting while you wait to board can make a big difference. If you get to the gate early and sit close to the desk, most of the time they will personally notify you that it is time to board, and may even let you board the plane first.
7. If You Are Travelling Alone, Let the People Near You Know: Taking a solo trip can be fun, however, whether you are on a plane, train or bus, there may be important announcements that you may miss. Let travellers near you know that you have a hearing loss; most will be happy to help!
8. Sit in the Aisle Seat: Although there is always a sense of wonder when you sit in the window seat of a plane or a train, sometimes, this will prevent you from properly seeing, and therefore understanding the flight attendant or conductor (if you lipread). Sitting in the aisle seat may help with this, especially if you are travelling solo. It’s also a good idea to have a small notepad and pen available so that the flight attendant or your seatmate can write a note if it’s too difficult to hear over the cabin noise. Remember, anything that enhances the communication process is a win and less stressful for everyone, with or without hearing loss.
9. Choose Hearing Accessible Locations: Some hotels provide hearing accessible technology, such as fire alerts, room doorbells and shake awake alarms. As well, some guided tours have FM systems available. Look into hearing accessible options and remember to book these in advance.
10. Prepare for a Fire Safety Exit Plan: Most hotels have a fire alert of some kind, but many don’t have more modern technology like visual alerts or sound alerts of lower frequency that are designed specifically for persons with hearing loss. It’s a good idea to be prepared for a fire safety emergency, here are some specific tips:
a. Upon arrival at your hotel, notify the reception staff of your hearing loss and request that you be notified in person in the event of a fire (the hotel will need to make note of this for other staff). Keep in mind that in the event of actual fire, there isn’t any guarantee that this request will be met.
b. Upon arrival at your hotel floor and room, note the locations of fire exit stairwells and the quickest route from your room if needed. Also, you could request a room closer to the fire exits if it makes your feel more secure.
c. Wear your technology while sleeping. While this might not be a preferred option, it will permit you to hear the fire alarm and allow you to respond. If not, you run the risk of not being notified and could be placing yourself in danger.
d. Replace your batteries at the beginning of each night, as this will help to ensure your battery doesn’t stop working while you are sleeping. Stories shared by other travellers with hearing loss has shown this to be a common occurrence.
Travelling with a hearing loss should not limit your experience. Follow the tips that you think will work best for you, and maybe even learn to lipread ahead of time, using our new course “Read Our Lips”, but most importantly do not be afraid to advocate for yourself.