Travelling to a foreign destination can be a bit stressful at the best of times. For those who are hard of hearing, however, overseas travel can be especially daunting.
There are many challenging situations that can potentially arise for people with hearing loss during travel, such as:
- Missing or mishearing important announcements in airports and trains stations.
- Not understanding the guide on a tour.
- Asking for directions from strangers and not understanding their instructions.
- Not being able to lip-read the local language.
- Not being able to hear in noisy tourist hot spots.
- Problems with hearing aid functionality.
Travelling with hearing loss doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience, though! We’ve compiled a list of tips to make sure your next overseas adventure is stress free.
Make a checklist and complete the following tasks in the weeks leading up to your departure:
- Visit your audiologist and have them check your hearing aids are in good working condition.
- Thoroughly clean and re-tube your hearing aids.
- Pack cleaning tools and an extra set of batteries for your hearing aids.
- Make sure you have all your travel arrangements in writing, well in advance. This includes itinerary, plane and train bookings, hotel locations, transfer details, etc.
- Make a list of your destination’s hearing clinics in case of an emergency.
- Ensure your travel insurance covers any problems that may arise with your hearing devices while away.
- Contact the airline you are travelling with and let them know about your hearing loss and any assistance you may require. If available, sign up for flight change alerts via text message or email.
- Arrive at the airport early. Let the agent at the boarding gate know that you are hearing impaired and need to be notified in person when it’s time to board.
- Let the hotel where you are staying know in advance of any special requirements you might have. Check if they have provisions for hard of hearing people, such as visible or tactile smoke alarms and subtitled TVs.
While you’re away, make everything as simple as possible with the following tips:
- Learn the phrase ‘I have hearing loss’ in the local language or have it written on a card to use in tricky situations.
- Have a language phrasebook handy at all times. Even if you can’t pronounce the words correctly, you can always point to what you mean!
- Make sure to take maps with you when you venture out – it might be too hard to hear directions, but people can show you the way on a map.
- Invest in a good guidebook. They can be expensive, but this way you won’t have to rely on tour guides to learn about landmarks and points of interest.
- Take your meals late or early to avoid the rush. Restaurants are generally quieter at these times and it’s easier to hear your dining companions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from fellow travellers or locals. Most people are patient and more than happy to lend assistance!
- Most importantly, have a great time!
Do you have any travel tips for people with hearing loss? Share them below!