Summer is here so it’s the perfect time to travel. There is no doubt that our desire to travel has increased now that restrictions have eased. If you’re one of the many people hoping to get away and you’re living with a hearing loss, you shouldn’t let it stop you from travelling, you just need to remember a few extra things before you hit the road!
A day or two ahead of time, why not make a packing list so you don’t forget any of your hearing device essentials? A checklist of the basics may include:
The latest hearing aids are designed and manufactured with the highest rating of water ingress protection. If your hearing aids are older you might want to consider taking appropriate precautions when near water or on very hot days when sweat can be an issue.
Check your travel insurance and hearing aid insurance policies, to make sure your hearing aids are covered in case of loss, damage or theft.
Don’t forget, if your hearing aids are connected to your smartphone, roaming charges might apply at your holiday destination, you can check this with your mobile provider. Even if you can't use the internet overseas you can still use Bluetooth to connect your hearing aids to your phone without using your data, just make sure to switch off mobile data on your phone.
Before you go, it can be a good idea to have your audiologist check your hearing aids are prepared for the trip, and while you're at it, you might want to ask about any assistive listening devices they might recommend.
Whether you’re being whisked away to a tropical paradise or enjoying a staycation in the UK, take some time to prepare for your journey.
At the airport you can use a self-check-in kiosk to avoid the possibility of having trouble communicating with the airline staff at the counter. Some airport terminals and lounges will provide a counter loop system, a special sound system for people with hearing aids that can improve the quality of sound in public places and reduces background noise. The system provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by hearing aids when they are set to the “T” (Telecoil) setting.
When you go through security you aren’t required to remove your hearing aids because they are not affected by airport scanners, but you may be given a pat-down if they set off the metal detector or advanced imaging technology. Make sure you don’t put your hearing device on the X-ray belt, because it can damage the microphones.
When passing through security, inform the security officer that you are wearing hearing aids before the screening begins. If you are travelling to the USA, you can download and fill in a TSA notification card to communicate your situation clearly to security officials.
Once you are on the plane, you should let your flight attendant or seatmate know about your hearing loss and ask them to alert you of any important messages since you could have trouble hearing the PA announcements, especially against the engine noise.
If you find changing trains and hearing announcements difficult, National Rail staff can provide help via their Assisted Travel Service.
Most stations in the UK have a passenger information screen which informs passengers of any arrivals or departures, and any platform information they might need.
When you are onboard the train, there should be a passenger information screen which will list the stations that the train you are on is due to call at. It is worth remembering the name of the station before your stop so that you can prepare to get off before the train arrives at the platform.
If you are travelling on a train that is not fitted with passenger information screens, try to find a seat near the doors, so that can more easily make your way to the exit when the train arrives in the platform.
If you’re travelling by car, remember not to leave your hearing aids in the dashboard. Cars heat up very quickly, and high temperatures can damage your hearing aids.
If you are on a guided tour, FM listening systems can help you hear the commentary. Ask the tour operator to use a transmitter microphone, which will allow you to listen to the presentation over radio waves via your hearing aid’s receiver.
When you are at your hotel, don't forget to inform the front desk about your hearing loss in case of emergency.
As long as you remember the basics, travelling with hearing aids should be simple. Plan ahead, then sit back and relax!