Whether by plane, train, or automobile, traveling with hearing loss can present unique challenges during the busiest travel time of the year. Don’t let hearing loss stop you from enjoying the experiences and adventures of travel. Here are a few helpful tips that can simplify traveling with hearing loss.
Before You Go
When you make reservations, many systems allow you to sign up for text or email alerts so you can get important announcements about delays on your phone the day you travel.
For accommodations, ask ahead about the availability of rooms that are equipped with technology like visual or vibrating alarms and notification devices.
What to Bring
If you are a hearing aid wearer, pack spare batteries, an extra charger, cleaning tools and any necessary replacement parts in your carry-on luggage. For international travel, make sure you have the correct power adapter or voltage converter. You may also consider packing your own vibrating alarm clock if you are staying with family/friends, or your if accommodations do not provide a wake up service.
Noisy Terminals and Stations
Communicating in hectic or loud situations that require the exchange of precise information can get very frustrating, even more so if it causes you to miss a connection and delays your travel. If asking people to repeat themselves is impractical, pack a pen and paper or plan to use a notepad app on your tablet or smartphone for a surefire way to exchange information quickly.
Hearing Aids and Security
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) suggests notifying a security officer if you plan to wear your hearing equipment when passing through metal detectors or body scanners. They have created discrete notification cards that you can show the agent before screening begins. You can print your own notification card and learn more about special procedures when traveling with hearing conditions at TSA.gov.
Travel by Plane
When traveling alone, inform the airline and gate staff that you suffer from hearing loss and your preferred communication method at your first opportunity. You may have signed up for email or text alerts to stay informed on flight changes while making your reservations. If not, some airlines offer apps that you can download to keep informed on your flight’s status.
Once on board, request that the flight attendant or a fellow passenger inform you of any inflight announcements. Even though most flights ask you to turn off all electronic devices, you can keep your hearing equipment turned on without fear that they may interfere in the same manner as other devices.
Travel by Train
Train stops may not be visible from your seat. Ask your seat partner to let you know when your destination is coming up. Notify train staff of your communication preferences so that they will inform you of any announcements.
Travel by Bus
Some bus lines have travel assistance departments that you can consult while planning your trip. At the terminal, communicate your hearing loss to ticket agents and request priority seating whenever possible so that you are able to see your stop. Aboard the bus, notify the driver or any other staff of your communication preferences so that they will inform you of any announcements during the trip.
Travel by Ship
When looking into travel through a cruise ship, inform the staff of your hearing loss and preferred communication method so they will inform you of any announcements. You might ask if the theaters have assisted-listening devices (ALDs), closed-captioning, or scripts. They may also provide sign language interpretation services on request or rooms with adaptive communication technology available.
Wherever your travels may take you, plan for success by planning ahead.
Sources: AARP, TSA.gov