The ability to explore other cultures and experience other ways of living broadens your perspective on life. I think that we, as hard of hearing individuals, have a leg up when it comes to traveling. Our visual acuteness allows us to view other countries in a way that is very different from our hearing peers. The hard of hearing traveler has a truly unique experience.
It’s important to note, though, that traveling is not always fun and games, especially when some countries may not have some of the tools and resources that we need as hard of hearing individuals. When it comes to packing, there are some things I always have to think about that my hearing colleagues don’t even bat an eye about.
Here’s a brief breakdown of some things I always make sure to have on me. In fact, they’re usually the first things I pack, and the last thing I double check. I’ve had mild panic moments about getting to a country where I can’t buy hearing aid batteries. Not a fun feeling!
Some hearing aids require cable to the wall / USB cord charging to function, so making sure you’re hearing aids are able to stay charged is crucial! Bring all chargers and cords you have on hand in case you leave one at a hotel somewhere. I usually advise keeping your extras in a different location from your main charger.
If you don’t rely on a charger to keep your hearing aids running, you probably need physical batteries. (Fun fact: Some hearing aids can charge and operate with batteries.) Hearing aid batteries aren’t always easy to find in stores in our home country, so they can be especially difficult to locate in a different country. Think about how many batteries you usually go through in the length of time that you’re traveling, and pack double! (i.e. one battery a week, traveling for four weeks -> bring 8 batteries!)
I always bring both! I like to double up. If you’re like me, I always worry about being somewhere and getting caught out in the rain sans protection. Many of us wear hearing aids that are not waterproof, so the possibility of them getting wet is never a good thing! Trust me, having at least one of these two things will help keep you from panicking the second rain shows up in the forecast.
Traveling usually entails visiting beaches or national parks where adventures in the water are likely involved. Make sure to bring a plastic bag or waterproof container in your beach bag or backpack to ensure you’re ‘ears’ don’t get wet while you play in the water!
Not everyone uses a hearing aid container, but it makes me feel safer just knowing I have a specific place to put my hearing aids at night or on the plane when I’m sleeping. It makes it easier to locate and keep track of them. Plus I usually store my back up aids in here as well. More on this below!
Some people have a box that dries up all the moisture. I use this specifically after big workouts where lots of sweating has taken place. It takes up some space, so I don’t usually bring it on the road with me unless absolutely necessary. Maintaining the cleanliness of your aids and molds is important, though, even on the go! I always pack a small cloth for cleaning the actual aids and a multi-tool with a wire loop and brush for cleaning my ear molds. Ear wax build-up is real!
There is always a possibility for our current aids to die on us at any moment, so having backups is key! Or there’s a chance they could get wet. Some of us get so excited about jumping in the pool, we forget to take our aids out. I advise traveling with at least one back up hearing aid and keep it somewhere safe (ie with your passport and other important documents).
Traveling should be fun, so it always helps to be as prepared as possible, so you can enjoy yourself to the fullest without worrying about your hearing aids running into any issues!