Travelling with Hearing Loss

By Ashley Derrington

Travelling can be stressful. Travelling with hearing loss can be stressful on another level. Do I have enough hearing aid batteries? What if my hearing aid gets wet or worse, I lose one? Will I be able to hear what’s said during the announcements at the airport?

Many of these thoughts often cycle through my head before embarking on a trip, but I’ve come to learn that the rewards of travelling are worth so much more than a couple of mild freak-outs. To combat the panic moments, I’ve learned to be better prepared for my adventures by following a few simple steps:

  1. When purchasing plan or train tickets, I check the “deaf/hard of hearing” box as I am granted priority boarding and can avoid some unclear loudspeaker announcements.
  2. I give myself a couple of days to make sure I have the essentials packed, and I always carry them with me:
    a.  Hearing aid batteries/hearing aid charger
    b.  Container for night-time
    c.  Raincoat to avoid moisture getting on my hearing aids
    d.  Extra hearing aids
  3. If travelling alone, prior to arrival, I let my hotel or AirBnB know that I’m deaf/hard of hearing should alarms go off.

When I’m well-prepared, I’ve found my hearing loss to be an asset while on the road, especially in foreign countries where I don’t speak the language and they don’t speak English.  As I rely a lot on visual cues and hand gestures to fill in the blanks I miss during spoken interaction, I’m more patient and willing to try other means of communicating than my hearing colleagues. It’s one of the few times where all parties are struggling to understand one another and not just a one-sided obstacle.

My visual attentiveness allows me to recognize details of my surroundings that others may not see which ultimately allows for a different travel experience than most. I’m grateful to my hearing loss for affording me some unique perspectives at home and abroad.

I highly encourage others with hearing loss to not be intimidated by the idea of travel/new places, but rather to be inspired to go outside your comfort zone—You may find its your new safe and happy space like I have!

Ashley is a 29-year old who loves to travel and try new things.  She has a bi-lateral, severe hearing loss, and wears a Phonak hearing aid in one ear and has an Esteem implant in the other.  She plays soccer for the USA Women’s National Deaf Team and is a contributing writer/vlogger for HearingLikeMe.com.  Her adventures can be followed on Instagram (@ashley5chanel) or on her blog at: deaftattooedandemployed.com.