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Traveling with a Hearing Loss

To my Hear Gear followers,

Sorry I haven’t posted anything lately.  My husband, Don, and I will be moving to Denver in July.  We have decided to put all our belongings in storage and travel until then.  So, I am now a homeless wanderer!  But I will be back!  My Hear Gear website is still open www.heargear.net and you can contact me at marilyn@heargear.net if you have any questions about listening devices.

Meanwhile, I would like to share some of my experiences traveling with a hearing loss.  I would also love to hear any travel advice or stories you would like to share.  Please leave a comment.

About 2 years ago, I gave a presentation to our HLAA Chapter about traveling with a hearing loss and the PowerPoint is available  on my website, but that was more oriented to travel within the U.S.  Traveling in foreign countries is a whole different experience.

First of all, don’t expect one of these ADA Compliant Hotel Room Kits.


Actually, cruise ships do have them, but the Royal Caribbean ship I went on was unable to come up with one.  I was told, “Broken” or “I’ll contact you” or “What’s that?” by various staff members and never got it.  Granted, I should have requested one ahead of time, but I didn’t think I would need it.  After realizing I couldn’t hear a knock on the door or hear on the telephone, I asked for one.
Good lesson:  always reserve an ADA room kit for a hotel or a cruise before you arrive!

I really don’t think I am THAT hard of hearing, but I have had a struggle with hearing on this trip.  So far, this is how I have felt while traveling abroad:

Image result for what?

One reason is that everyone (EVERYONE!) I meet has a foreign accent.  I’m currently in Bali and the locals all have strong accents and the women speak very softly.  The fellow tourists are mostly from Australia or Europe.

Another reason I don’t perceive myself at “THAT” hard of hearing is that at home I limit my interactions and environments.  I didn’t realize how much I control my environment at home until I was out of my comfort zones.  At home I rarely go out with a large group, avoid noisy restaurants, and take an assisted listening device to events I know will be difficult.  I rarely need to ask directions, get information from a hotel employee or taxi driver, or ask someone with limited English about the food ingredients.  Suddenly out of my usual environment, I had to admit, “I am THAT hard of hearing!!”

On the cruise, I met a sweet British woman who was sitting at a nearby table.  My husband was doing all the talking and I finally told her, “Sorry, but I’m having trouble hearing in this noisy room.”  She asked me, “Are you a bit deaf?”  I loved that expression!!  Yes, I’m a bit deaf!  I have been telling people that ever since.  “Sorry, I’m a bit deaf.  Could you please speak up?”  You know how we are always debating how to identify ourselves and what is the politically correct way to refer to us?  Are we hard-of-hearing, hearing impaired, deaf, Deaf, or (the worst) are we suffering from hearing loss?  Well, from now on, I’m “a bit deaf”!

One of the fun things about traveling is meeting new people – sharing travel stories with other travelers and getting to know the locals.  I must admit, I have become rather anti-social.  It’s just so difficult!  That makes me sad.  Also, I have become VERY dependent on my husband (who hears perfectly).  That makes me mad!  I don’t like to dependent!  Fortunately, he is a good sport and doesn’t mind “interpreting” (repeating) things to me.

My patient “interpreter”

What can be done to improve the situation?  Bring assisted listening devices!

[If you don’t use assisted listening devices at home, don’t bother to bring one.  It takes some time to get used to using them and probably not something you would start using on a trip.  However, if you have never tried one, I certainly recommend it.  All my listening devices have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.  You could try one to see how you like it].

This trip I am traveling very lightly.  I told myself I could only bring one assisted listening device.  I decided to bring my Pocketalker.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that is my favorite, small, inexpensive listening device.  I also brought my Oticon Streamer and a lapel microphone.  (That’s still just one device!  They all work together.)  I’m glad I have them, but there are many times I wished I had my Oticon Connectline Microphone and/or an FM system.

The Oticon Connectline Microphone and Streamer

If you wear Oticon hearing aids, you might remember that I tried the microphone several years ago and ended up returning it.  It just didn’t work well for me.  I decided to try it again and now love it…..for certain situations.  It doesn’t work well for one-on-one conversations with someone sitting close-by as there is an echo/delay.  (Of course, that is what I wanted it for.)  It doesn’t work well in a noisy environment as it picks up too much of the background noise, but it works great for a lecture or class.  I am currently taking yoga classes and guided meditation classes and really wish I had it!  It is so small and light that it is easy to ask the speaker to clip it onto his/her shirt.  I didn’t bring it because I wasn’t sure I could charge it without a converter.

When traveling overseas, you need to bring adapters to fit your electronics into the different types of outlets.


Years ago, I always traveled with a converter, too (after melting my curling iron without one.)  But now most electronics have a built-in converter.  I am able to charge my netbook, iPad and Oticon Streamer with just an adapter, no converter.  I wasn’t sure if the charging cord for the microphone would work without a converter, so I didn’t bring it.  I will look into that before my next trip!

I will probably also bring the Conversor Pro FM system.  I wrote about this in The Pros and Cons of Three FM Systems.  It is the smallest and will be the easiest to pack.

So, be prepared on your next trip overseas!  Don’t leave home without  your assisted listening devices!  Just eliminate that extra pair of shoes and you’ll have plenty of room!