Holidays 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.
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.
Airport Parking Shop were curious to find out so did their own little bit of research on seven of the top UK Airports. Read their blog about using airports 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 theirSolutions 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
- 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 showyou 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!