Holidaying if you have hearing problems


Holidaying if you have a hearing lossHolidays are a period of travel, relaxation, recreation and cheerfulness. They are a time for family, friends and acquaintances to be together and share new experiences. Travelling at home and abroad or staying in a strange place can be stressful even when you have good hearing: it becomes challenging when you have a hearing loss.

Read Margaret's blog about travelling to Thailand.

Here are a few glitches that can happen:

  • Mishearing announcements on busy train stations and in airports
  • Asking directions from strangers
  • Missing vital information announced by the tour guide
  • Trying to lipread a foreign language - even when you know the language well!
  • Sitting in crowded restaurants and attempting to enjoy conversation
  • Taking your hearing aids or cochlear implants out to swim and realising that you cannot hear when the swimming pool attendant tells you to leave the water
  • Going on an expensive guided tour and not understanding a word

 However, a little forethought can make things easier.

A profoundly deaf college lecturer became increasingly anxious about travelling on business because he dreaded being late for a presentation due to missing a train or a plane. Before his hearing loss he had relied on announcements and overhearing other people’s conversation for information about what was happening. He also found that he was also unable to hear on his mobile to let those who were expecting him know when he was delayed. 

After a discussion with a hearing therapist he realised that he could rely on visual information, loop systems at the ticket offices and the help of staff provided to help disabled passengers. He could let his colleagues know what was happening by sending text messages by mobile instead.  

Be prepared! 


Holidaying if you have a hearing loss

  • Make your bookings online, if possible, as all confirmation will be in writing
  • Ask for everything to be confirmed in writing – price, dates, bookings and travel arrangements 
  • Make sure you know your travel arrangements clearly in advance: timetable, changes of train or plane, locations of airports, stations and coach pick-up points
  • Find out if the hotel has any provision for hard of hearing and deaf people before you book with them: e.g. visible or tactile smoke alarm, subtitled television
  • Take any equipment you need with you e.g. vibrating alarm clock, door beacon, portable telephone amplifier, television listening device and smoke alarm. Take an adapter with you if necessary
  • Have your hearing aids/cochlear implant checked by the audiology department before you leave on holiday
  • Pack spare hearing aid batteries
  • Carry a simple hearing aid repair kit: puffer, tubing, threader, cleaner, wet wipes (the RNID sell excellent repair kits for hearing aids.  See their website: www.rnid.org.uk or get a copy of their Solutions catalogue by post – your local audiology department may stock copies of the catalogue)
  • Check that you will be able to send text messages from your mobile telephone from abroad

Holiday advice (part 2!)


Holidaying if you have a hearing loss

  • Learn the phrase 'I am deaf' in the language of the country you are visiting or have it written on a card
  • Translate a few communication tactics into the language of the country you are visiting and have them written on a card
  • Take maps – it is difficult to hear people’s instructions but if you have a map they can show you the way
  • Invest in a good guide book – that way you will not have to rely on other people telling you things
  • Self-catering can provide you with privacy and less background noise for meal times
  • Restaurants are often quieter if you go for a very early, or a very late, lunch
  • Make sure any travelling companion knows the extent of your deafness and give them a few deaf awareness instructions beforehand
  • Remind hotel staff that you will not: a. hear anyone knock on your room door; b. use the telephone; c. hear the smoke alarm – make alternative arrangements with the staff
  • Don’t be afraid to ask professionals, such as tour guides, for help if you need it
  • Wear a Lipreader please speak clearly or Hard of Hearing badge from Hearing Link
  • Your travelling companions are on holiday too – do not use them as 'interpreters' unless really necessary!  Try to be as independent as possible. 

To sum up: be prepared; tell people that you have a hearing loss in advance and be clear about what you need. Have a good time!

Wish you were here!

Volunteer Ian Hylands takes a cruise on luxury ship Splendida 

Hearing Link member and volunteer, Ian Hylands, is profoundly deafened and wears two digital hearing aids. This doesn’t prevent him from taking himself off on holiday, usually as a single traveller. His latest overseas trip was on cruise ship - here’s what happened.  

I booked my holiday at the end of November 2011 and, as always, was careful to make it known that I was hearing impaired. There was no problem, the booking and payment were taken without question … until the sinking of the Costa cruise ship.

Soon after it happened, the company I was with (MSC), decided they needed a few more details about me. They asked questions about whether I was capable of traveling on my own and how would I cope in an emergency.

Much as I dislike form filling, I did as best I could and advised them of the safety and support equipment I’d like them to provide in my cabin. I didn’t hold out much hope as I wasn't really sure what the Italian attitude was towards hearing impairment.

Happily, MSC must have decided that I was just the sort of passenger they wanted because the tickets came and off I flew to Genoa, where I joined a very nice ship - MSC Splendida.

As expected, I arrived in my cabin to find that no equipment was supplied. I decided to press the issue so I headed along to reception where I was directed on to a disabilities desk – unstaffed! I thought I might simply have to make the best of things, however, later that evening a note was passed to me advising of an English-speaking hospitality helpdesk that would run for an hour the next morning.

Full of hope, I attended – but, no, although the lady could understand me, she had no idea what I was talking about! Equipment had been requested? Really?

A day or so went by, until out of the blue a couple of helpful Polish chaps knocked on my door, their arms full of equipment. They had an alarm clock with an under-pillow vibration pad and flashing light, a keyboard which attached to the cabin phone and went to dedicated number at reception, and a control for the steward to remotely activate the alarm clock.

I was most impressed. It was the best set of equipment I’d ever been supplied with on holiday. What a difference it made – I had an emergency phone should I need it, and even better, I could order breakfast in my cabin, and thanks to the steward’s remote control for the alarm clock, knew when it arrived! 

Persistence can pay off. It’s definitely worth a try!

Hearing Link is continuing to seek a suitable partner to enable us to resume our service offering ‘holidays with communications support’. Keep checking this website for news.


Got a question?

If you’re looking for someone who understands or have a question that’s on your mind - just ask!

Contact our Helpdesk Responder team, who have personal experience of hearing loss and are ready to offer information and support to help you take your next step.

Contact our Helpdesk Responder team who have personal experience of hearing loss

Complete an online helpdesk form
Text us 07526 123255
Drop us an email helpdesk@hearinglink.org
Give us a call on 0300 111 1113

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Comments from seasoned travellers


Travelling if you have a hearing loss


'I take my hearing aids out when I’m with a hearing companion on a long journey and want to read – who needs a quiet coach?'

'I can sleep over the hotel bar and not hear the noise.'

'I enjoy scenery in a really intense way – sight, smell and touch – without the distraction of noise.'

'People are really friendly when you ask them for help and are fascinated by my lipreading.'

'You have a lot of laughs such as when I asked a railway official about an announcement, explaining that I was deaf, and he took me by the arm and led me onto the train! So kind but so funny!'

'I swot up the travel books and histories and guides beforehand and everyone is very impressed by my knowledge. We were going round the Wellington Museum and I was telling my daughter all about the Duke of Wellington and one of the staff said I knew more than the tour guides!'



Travelling by plane if you have a hearing loss

Travelling by plane? 

The do's and the don'ts


Hearing Link Registered Charity Number 264809 Registered Charity Number in Scotland SC037688