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At last—it’s time to stretch your legs, spread your arms, and set your sights on new ports of call. Yes, it’s time to travel.
What’s that—you’re doubtful because you have hearing loss? You’re worried there will be difficulty getting from here to there because you struggle to hear (sometimes or all the time)? You’re concerned that, once at your destination, you’ll be unable to effectively communicate with others?
Is traveling difficult if you have hearing loss?
There’s no need to worry! You’re just one of millions who have hearing loss and you can become one of those millions who don’t let it keep them grounded from seeing the sights and enjoying the people, places and things the world has to offer.
Pack your bags and let’s go! Here are some tips to help ease your concerns.
How do you want to get there?
While you’ll undoubtedly encounter different situations when traveling as compared to your usual home-based routines, you’ll be surprised to discover that much of what you do where you live works just as well when you travel. Consider these settings and situations:
- Road trips: Well, this is practically “home on wheels,” right? Whether you travel in a car, an SUV or a motorhome, you can take all the comforts—and conveniences—of home with you. Whatever you do to manage your hearing loss at home easily goes with you on the road, and that includes hearing-assistance technology that goes with you on a mobile phone, laptop, or tablet device. (Captioned mobile calls, anyone?) Relax, this sort of travel has you in control, every mile of the journey.
- Bus and rail travel: Next in convenience to road trips are bus and rail travel; you simply show up and leave the driving and engineering to them. The departure terminals can be busy and noisy so it’s important you acquaint yourself with all notification and update systems. Be sure to let the employees and attendants know you have hearing loss and request you be notified personally of any departure announcements. Don’t want to miss your ride!
- Air travel: Commercial air travel adheres to federal regulations and mandates that differently abled individuals are properly accommodated. Simply indicate at booking time that you have hearing loss and learn what the airline and the airport(s) offer to make your journey easier. Often, you’ll gain preferred access, boarding and in-flight arrangements. You can be confident that the air travel industry is there to serve you.
- Cruise ships: Perhaps the most guest-indulging and individually accommodating travel experience is enjoyed on a cruise. Board and get settled once, and everything you need is available on most ships. Attending to your every desire and need is the bread-and-butter business of the cruise industry. Let them know about your hearing condition so you can be sure to have access to every assistance and accommodation available. They’ll likely take supreme care of you, so much so you might never want to go back home.
Seven tips for better travel with hearing loss
OK—while each travel experience noted will have its differences in accommodating your needs, there are some common factors you should consider before, during, and after your journey. Consider these seven tips to make your travel safer and more enjoyable.
- Carefully research each travel method to understand what is offered to help differently abled travelers. Contact them to answer any questions you might have, via phone, email, or online chat service.
- Ask about special discounts offered to differently abled travelers, many which also are extended to travel companions. Often, you’ll get an immediate savings if you simply ask.
- Book your travel well in advance, especially during the busy travel seasons (summer, holidays). Again, check for special accommodations you might need and change/cancellation policies.
- Pack carefully and consider anything you might need to ensure whatever you use to assist in your hearing is with you and you have extra supplies (such as hearing aid batteries, device chargers, headphones and mics, and so on). Printed itineraries are also a big help when communicating with others.
- Be aware of travel restrictions or interruptions affecting mobile device use. Some carriers and destinations might have rules about wireless device use or may not have reliable coverage to support mobile calling or texting.
- Keep all hearing-assistance devices and supplies with you at all times. Whether on your carry-on luggage or in a daypack while roaming your destination(s), be sure you always have what you need to hear and communicate wherever you go.
- Ask about hearing-assistance provisions where you’ll stay. Many hotels provide visual or sensory cue technology (phone flashers, vibrating beds as an alarm) to ensure peace of mind during your stay.
Come on—it’s time to get out and get away. Your hearing loss shouldn’t keep you from seeing the world (or just seeing more of the places around you). When you take the time to consider your needs in your day-to-day life, you can adapt that preparedness to excursions away from home. Hearing loss shouldn’t hold you back, so don’t let it.
Ready? All aboard!