Traveling rates high on the list of stressful situations for people with hearing loss. There are so many “need to hear” situations involved, that planning and enjoying a trip can seem overwhelming and frightening. Here are some ideas about traveling which I use to help lessen my pre-trip anxiety level and raise my pleasure quotient while I am on the road.
- Tell everyone involved in your trip you are hard of hearing/deaf, including the travel agent, ticket clerk, airline representative, group coordinator or cruise ship operator. You may want to ask to have this information put on your ticket.
- State your needs in writing and request written confirmation of all arrangements ahead of time. Click here to see sample hotel reservation letter.
- Take ID showing your name, address, phone number(s), the fact you have a hearing loss and the names and addresses of your family members and medical providers.
- Pack copies of your ID information, itinerary, ticket(s), passport, license, credit card(s) and a list of the medications you take separately from the actual documents and leave copies with a responsible person, on your desk, and on your computer.
- Put your personal affairs in order.
- Check the website or call the carrier you are using to find out about identification requirements and baggage restrictions. Click here for packing instructions from the Transportation Security Administration. Click here for information about traveling with a hearing loss. For flight information, check your airline and visit www.fly.faa.gov.
- Keep pencil/pen and paper handy at all times.
- Take assistive listening devices including an FM system or Bluetooth device. A small battery tester and flashlight are helpful, too. Download and use travel apps on your smartphone. Ask for audio looping and captioning when necessary. Learn more about assistive listening technology.
- At the airport, tell the person at the check-in desk you have a hearing loss and have trouble hearing the PA system. Ask them to come and tell you if there is any change in the flight. Sit where you can be seen.
- When you board a plane, immediately tell the stewards you are unable to hear the public address system and will need explanations in an emergency. If you are traveling alone, ask your seat mate to help you.
- When you travel with a group, explain you are hard of hearing/deaf, demonstrate the hearing assistive technology you use, tell people to make direct eye contact when they talk to you and ask them to help you when necessary.
- If you have communication problems during the trip, speak to the person in charge and explain your needs calmly and clearly. Try to keep your sense of humor.
- After the trip, write “thank you” letters or letters of complaint.
- Take responsibility for yourself. Be flexible and have a good time!
Ruth D. Bernstein