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Traveling can be stressful. Packing, lines at the airport, and long flights are aspects of travel that most of us wish we could avoid! If you have hearing loss, this process can be even more stressful. Thinking about and planning for your hearing needs during your travels can be overwhelming but it does not have to be! Taking the time to plan ahead can prevent potential harm, prepare you to navigate all environments, and protect your hearing health which is of the greatest importance. There are a few extra measures you can take to ensure that your ears and hearing health are cared for throughout your travels so that you can have a great time!
Impact of Travel on Hearing
Before traveling, it is incredibly useful to assess the types of environments you will be in and the activities you are signed up for. This will help you to think through what you might need to fully participate and enjoy those environments and activities. You want to be mindful of the following:
- Airplane Noise: being on an airplane involves being subjected to a lot of noise. If your flight is several hours, you could be exposed to this noise for a significant amount of time. You could also experience tinnitus on the flight which is a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears. This can be caused by changing pressure levels at different altitudes.
- Exposure to loud noise: depending on what your travel plans include, you could be in environments with higher levels of noise – popular tourist attractions, trains, buses, concerts, museums, group tours etc.
- Swimmers Ear: if pools or the ocean is part of your travel, be aware that swimmer’s ear is a potential risk. Swimmer’s ear is a type of ear infection that is caused by excess water that remains in your ear after swimming.
Being aware of the places, transportation, and spaces that you will be moving through can help you assess potential risks and effective ways to mitigate them. Making note of this is a great way to help you plan and prepare as best as possible!
There are ways that you can prepare for your travel that simply requires a little bit of time!
Pack Ahead of Time: packing in advance is the most important way to ensure preparedness. Writing a packing list that includes all of the essential items related to your hearing aids would be incredibly helpful. You want to make sure that you set aside enough time so that you can be as thorough as possible with your packing. Be sure to charge your hearing aids the night before your travel and that you have everything needed for your batteries (extra batteries, converters needed for outlets if traveling internationally. Additionally, your cleaning kit and other accessories you may have. Be sure to pack all of this in a separate bag that can be easily accessible on the flight and throughout your travels.
- Receive Text Alerts: when in an airport, there are announcements that are consistently made to update travelers on flights. Even without hearing loss, it is easy to miss these announcements because airports are loud and there can be so much going on! Signing up ahead of time to receive text alerts can help you stay up to date on all of your flight information, be aware of any changes or delays etc.
- Notify Necessary People: informing certain people of your hearing aids can be helpful. When going through security, it is important to know that you do not have to remove your hearing aids as these devices are not impacted by screening devices. But letting security agents know of your hearing impairment and hearing aids is always suggested. Also, informing flight attendants during the beginning of the flight can be a helpful reminder to them to let you know important information throughout the flight that you may miss.
- Always Wear Hearing Aids: it is so important to always wear your hearing aids throughout the airport and for the duration of the flight! You should wear them during take-off and landing, use the appropriate features and setting for your needs, and if you have noise-cancellation, be sure to use it!
- Protective Wear: if you will be moving through loud environments, protect your ears! You can wear earmuffs, ear plugs, headphones etc. Also, if you plan on swimming, make sure to remove your hearing aids and wear earplugs while you swim. After, allow enough time for your ears to thoroughly drain before placing your hearing aids back in!
Preparing for travel with hearing loss take a little extra time but protecting your hearing health is worth it!