As any traveller knows, experiencing different destinations and cultures around the world can be inspirational, eye-opening and help to satisfy that wanderlust in your soul. However, there’s no doubt that it can also throw up all manner of trials ranging from the mildly irritating to the downright disastrous. But try throwing a hearing impairment into the mix and even the most experienced traveller might balk at the challenges this presents.
However, having a hearing impairment should in no way prevent you chasing your dreams and fulfilling your travel goals. Granted, to maximise your chance at enjoying a smooth journey, it takes preparation, forethought and planning, but the rewards of facing the challenge and coming out on top far outweighs the problems you might face.
The old saying that things get easier with practice certainly stands true when it comes to travelling with a hearing impairment. So don’t push aside your travel plans for fear of what might go wrong, and read on for our tips on how to put yourself in the best position for things to go right:
Forewarned is forearmed
Rigorous research before you travel is key for peace of mind when you have a hearing impairment. If you’re travelling by bus or train, don’t rely on the vehicle having visual displays. Instead, make a list of the stops so you can keep track of where you are. Write down or print out all details about where you are staying, next to your booking information and what you need to do to get from A to B. Having all the details at your fingertips will help you feel more relaxed and informed – plus, it’s easier to ask for assistance if something goes wrong.
There are a growing number of tour organisations that cater specifically to people with hearing impairments, but if you’re not lucky enough to find one in your destination of choice, communicate with the organisation in advance to find out what adaptations can be made for you. You might be given a transcript of a tour, for example, or an interpreter might be arranged. Never take anything for granted and don’t be afraid to ask.
As well as a good watch, smartphone and battery pack to help you stay organised and find out information whilst on the move, you might also need to pack hearing technology to help you on your holiday. Always pack extra batteries and treat your equipment as you would your passport – keep it on your person rather than locked away in the hold and store it somewhere safe if it needs to be out of your sight. You might want to consider investing in a sturdy waterproof bag if you plan on lounging around the pool or on the beach during your trip.
Minimise stress by giving yourself plenty of time and arriving early for any transport you have booked. If you struggle to hear the announcements, keep an eye on your watch and make regular checks on the display board. You just never know when a gate might change at the last minute and some airports are so huge, you might find yourself running hell for leather to make your flight if you don’t stay vigilant. Not exactly the most relaxing start to the holiday of your dreams.
Let staff know
Whenever you make a booking, whether it’s for an activity or even accommodation, let staff know your needs so that they have time to make the necessary arrangements. If you won’t be able to hear the details of a safety demonstration, for example, or the instructions for an activity, you could be putting yourself at unnecessary risk by keeping quiet. Airline staff may come and inform you of safety procedures in person so that you can lip-read, or they might write down instructions. Always feel free to ask questions if you still aren’t clear – it’s your right to stay safe. We advise always carrying a notebook and a couple of pens with you so that people can easily write down information if you need it.
Many hotels these days offer special devices that can alert you if there is an emergency – such as a fire – with a flash or heavy vibration; it might be worth checking in advance before you book a room. Additionally, you can buy a similar device that can serve as an alarm clock and save you from missing any of those early morning flights.
If you require more information on how to be prepared for travelling with a hearing impairment visit the Hearing Link , a registered charity who offers helpful and free advise for those with hearing loss.
Last but not least, make it a priority to book the right travel insurance for your trip. Medical Travel Compared can help you access a wide range of insurers so that you can make the right choice for your situation.
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