When preparing for travel, there is much to consider and organize. If you have hearing loss, it is important to take the time and plan ahead for your hearing needs. You may feel anxious or stressed about navigating travel – airports, transportation, new environments – with hearing loss but by taking the time to assess what you will need in these new spaces, you can be as prepared as possible. Preparedness can really reduce the risk of experiencing potential harm to your hearing health, allowing you to fully maximize your travels!
Travel Risks for Hearing Health
Take the time to think about the specifics of your travel plans: what activities will you be participating in? What modes of transportation will you be taking? What kind of environments will you be in? Identifying your hearing needs for the range of activities you will be engaging in allows you to plan and meet those needs. It is important to think through the potential risks to your hearing and how to mitigate them. This includes:
- Airplane Noise: noise levels related to airplane travel can be high and if the duration of your flight is lengthier, this noise can be a risk to your hearing. It can trigger tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing like noise in one or both ears) which is also amplified by changing levels of elevation and pressure. It is important to practice safety measures that protect your hearing from this noise.
- Exposure to Loud Noise: in addition to airplane noise, you may be moving through active and loud spaces throughout your travel – tourist attractions, concerts, transportation hubs etc.
- Climate: if you are traveling to a tropical, humid, or windy climate; this can contribute to more moisture (and other debris) in and around the ears which can affect your hearing aids.
- Swimmers Ear: if swimming is part of your travel plans it is also important to be aware of swimmer’s ear which is a type of ear infection that happens when excess water remains in the ears after swimming.
Planning around mitigating these risks can help you effectively prepare the items you need and pack efficiently.
To best prepare, you can practice the following tips:
- Create Checklist: while planning and packing, it can be difficult to remember everything you need so making a checklist is a great way to ensure that you don’t forget necessary items! Your list should include your hearing aids cleaning kit, extra batteries or rechargeable power source, and any accessories that you use. Additionally, it is really useful to have a separate travel bag just for your hearing aids (and accessories) which you can easily access when needed.
- Charge Hearing Aids: before heading to the airport and departing for your travels, be sure to charge your hearing aids overnight. The last thing you want to deal with is your hearing aid needing to be recharged while you are out! In addition to bringing extra batteries, be sure to also bring any converters needed if traveling internationally.
- Sign-up for Text Alerts: this is a great way to receive the latest information and updates regarding your flight. Airports are typically noisy so trying to hear announcements or talking to personnel can be challenging. Text alerts will let you know of any changes or delays to your flight.
- Always Wear Hearing Aids: it is important to wear your hearing aids throughout the airport and the entire duration of your flight. It’s useful to know that hearing aids are not restricted the same way other electronic devices are. This means that you are free to wear them and are not required to remove them while going through security.
- Protective Wear: wearing protective gear for your ears is a useful way to reduce the impact of loud noise. This is particularly helpful while traveling and moving through spaces with background noise. Gear like earbuds, headphones, earplugs, earmuffs, etc. decreases the amount (and impact) of sound you absorb. Lastly, if you plan on swimming, it is important to remove your hearing aids and use earplugs. After, fully drain your ears before inserting your hearing aids back in.