Travelling gives us the opportunity to relax and spend quality time with our family and friends and now that travel restrictions are starting to be lifted, more and more of us are thinking about our next holiday and planning how we can start enjoying the world again. We have been encouraged to wear masks on public transport to help prevent the spread of Covid 19 but this makes lip reading impossible and can also make it more difficult for other people to understand us.
Travelling at home or abroad can be stressful, not least because we are often visiting places that are not familiar. If you have a hearing loss everything will seem just a little bit more challenging. You might need to get accurate information quickly in noisy environments.
- These are common problems that can arise:
- Mishearing announcements at busy train stations and airports.
- Having to ask directions from strangers
- Missing vital information announced by the tour guide
- Trying to lipread in a foreign language – even if you know it well
- Trying to communicate in a busy restaurant or wine bar
- Removing your hearing aids before entering a pool and then not being able to hear if any announcements are made
Prepare in advance
Make sure that you have been to any check ups at an ear clinic and carry spare hearing aid batteries and a simple repair kit with you. If you are worried at all about issues while travelling, then it is best to seek advice. Before booking a hotel, ask about available accommodations for people with hearing loss. Many hotels, especially in developed countries, have rooms with specific amenities for people with hearing loss (flashing lights for the phone and doorbell) if you request them in advance. If you are traveling with a tour company, alert them to your accommodation needs. They may be able to help.
Whether you are travelling by plane, train, or car, download all relevant apps onto your smartphone before you go. Most airlines and train company apps include timetables and provide alerts for gate changes or delays. Practice using the apps before you go so you are prepared if you have trouble on your trip.
Travel by plane
Whether you are going on a business trip or off on holiday, take a bit of time to prepare for your flight. For example, let the airline know your needs in advance – explaining clearly the help you require and that you cannot hear announcements.
Travel by train
Train travelling has become a much more positive experience in recent years, which is mainly down to advancements in technology that makes communication easier. With the introduction of online bookings and visual announcements, it has made travel that little bit easier for people with hearing impairments.
Ask for help
People often forget about hearing loss because it is invisible, so don’t be shy about reminding others of your needs. A gentle prompt like holding your hand behind your ear often works well and does not disrupt the flow of dialogue. Save non-critical clarification questions for a quiet moment or break, but be sure to ask them. When logistical information is provided, request it in written form. Carry a notebook and pen in your bag to make that an easy process. You should also carry a guidebook and map.
If you have any other other suggestions please add them in the comments below.
(Collaborative guest post)