We thank Patricia Ramirez, AuD, for providing this week’s guest blog post.
Traveling should be fun, and hearing aids allow you to fully experience both the sights and sounds. But traveling can also be stressful. To make sure that your hearing aids are a source of fun rather than stress, here some tips that could minimize unnecessary hassles and unwelcome surprises during your travels.
Before you go.
If you haven’t visited your hearing care professional in a while for a hearing aid cleaning or check-up, now is a good time, especially if you have been experiencing any problems. The last thing you want is for your hearing aids to malfunction while you’re on the trip. If you’re going to be away for an extended time, ask your hearing care professional to provide contact information for one or two professionals located at your destination who have experience with your brand of hearing aids. This way, if you need professional help while you’re away, you’ll know where to go and not have to wait until you return to hear well again. Also, take the opportunity to discuss loss and damage insurance. Most new hearing aid purchases come with this insurance for a limited time. Upon expiration, additional insurance can sometimes be purchased.
Make sure you have all the cleaning tools you’ll need. Bring enough batteries and any extra tubing, soft domes/tips, and wax guards to last you the entire trip, plus a few days more. Don’t forget any audio shoes, sport clips, remote controls, streamers, chargers, or other hearing aid accessories. If you don’t already have one, ask your hearing care professional about a dehumidifier box or hearing aid dryer that you can use to remove excess moisture.
If you plan on taking your hearing aids off during travel, such as when napping on a plane ride, remember to bring along a hard-shell case to store them. Keep the case in a safe place where it won’t be accidentally damaged or left behind, such as in your purse or carry-on bag. As you know, items lost on planes, trains, and other forms of public transportation are rarely found again.
If you’re traveling by car, note that just like most electronic devices, hearing aids shouldn’t be exposed to excessive heat. So don’t leave them in the car while you take a break on your road trip. Cars parked in direct sunlight can quickly reach internal temperatures up to 131° – 172° F, even when outside temperatures are only 80° – 100° F. This temperature is hot enough to melt hearing aid housings and components.
While you’re away.
Try to keep your hearing aids from excessive dirt or moisture. Many of the latest hearing aids on the market are water-resistant or even waterproof. Look for the rating “IP67” which means the hearing aid is tested and certified to be water and dirt resistant, or “IP68” which means it is waterproof and dust- proof. Nevertheless, with the perspiration, moisture, and dirt that often go hand-in-hand with travel, it is still important to keep them as dry and clean as possible. Even hearing aids rated IP68 should be dried and cleaned thoroughly overnight with the battery doors open. So, after excessive perspiration or contact with water or dirt, inspect the aids as well as any earmolds, domes, and tubing attached for residual moisture or debris. Remember to clean all parts thoroughly as instructed by your hearing care professional. Wear a hat if the temperature is hot and you’re under direct sunlight for an extended time. Or better yet, go inside periodically to cool your hearing aids (and yourself) down.
If you know you’ll be removing your hearing aids, such as when you’re going for a dip in the pool or lake, bring along your hard-shell hearing aid case. The case will keep your hearing aids from being accidentally damaged while they’re out of your ears. And when they’re in the case, try to keep it in the same designated place every time, such as inside your purse or together with your glasses. This way, they will be less likely for you to misplace.
Accidents and unforeseen events happen, especially when you’re traveling. But with a little preparation and mindfulness, you can make sure that your hearing aids will it make it back home with you, safe and sound.