Meandering Through A Hearing World – Traveling with Hearing Loss

My husband and I sighed with relief when pulling up into our driveway after being on the road for nearly two weeks. We were glad to be home and happy that we’d be sleeping in our own bed. But that night over dinner, we couldn’t help recapping our wonderful trip. We both agreed our planned road trip was one of the best vacations we’d had in a while.

There were challenges. Suffice it to say, anyone experiencing hearing loss may have difficulties when traveling. I try to anticipate my needs before taking off to parts known. Some of the things I do include: 1. Having my hearing aids checked by my audiologist to ensure that they are in good working order. Trying to deal with broken or nonfunctioning aids on the road is sure to ramp up the stress meter. 2. Pack batteries, my travel-size dry-aid kit, and a spare pair of aids. 3. Have my additional assistive listening devices including my mini mic, iPhone, and iPad. They follow me everywhere as I use the Resound hearing app for streaming sound. 4. Power strip: All these devices require nightly charging so my husband brings along a power strip, which gives me the ability to keep all my devices in one handy hotel location. Additional things to consider: It’s not a bad idea to carry the phone numbers of your audiologist and for customer service for your hearing aids or cochlear implant along with your latest audiogram, just in case.

Along with devices and accessories, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that, while traveling, one confronts the unfamiliar. On part of our trip, we used the Auto Train. Knowing I could not hear announcements, I mentioned my hearing difficulties when checking in and was told the announcements were available on a TV screen near the boarding area. Also, a wonderful young woman helped us out after we boarded, showing us the ins and outs of our roomette, where the bathroom was, the location of emergency exits, and how to get to the dining and club cars. None of this would have happened had I not mentioned my hearing loss.

I was amazed at how the clicking and clacking of the auto train kept me awake most of the night. The next time I take the train I’ll be sure to pack ear plugs. When on the road, I find restaurants noisier than usual. I know this doesn’t make sense but I attribute this feeling to being away from familiar surroundings. The same goes for sleeping in a hotel room. You might find booking a room with the same kind of bed size and bathroom that you have at home comforting, but let’s face it, you’re in a different spot. I always find myself working harder to keep track of my things and hearing noises that I don’t hear at home, etc. When booking hotels, I look for accessible rooms. This is might be especially helpful if traveling alone. Most hotels have rooms equipped with smoke and carbon dioxide monitors with flashing lights as well as alarms. Make sure the hotel phone has a volume control. I always request that the captioning be turned on the television and I ask about pay for view movies as I find that they are not always universally captioned in all hotels. It doesn’t hurt to let the staff know that you have a hearing loss. In the case of an emergency, you want to be sure that the hotel staff is aware that you might not hear their warnings and announcements.

There’s no way to prepare for travel anxiety. However, a bit of forethought and packing the items you need, just might just contribute to a more relaxing vacation. When away from home I try to kick back and take a deep breath, reminding myself how privileged I am to discover travel and discover America.