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Travelling and gap years

Photo: Get tips on travelling if you're deaf

 Travelling is a great way for a deaf young person to increase their confidence, make new friends and learn about the world. It can also bring specific challenges. Here are some tips to make sure their trip goes smoothly.

Deaf vloggers: Travelling in my gap year using BSL

22-year-old Ruth tells how easy it was for her to travel even though her first language is British Sign Language (BSL).

Challenge – missing important announcements on the plane, train or in the hotel


  • At the airport – arrive early and keep checking the departures board. Tell the person at the boarding gate you’re deaf and need to be notified when it’s time to board. There are also apps available for real time alerts for changes in flight plans.
  • On the aeroplane – tell the flight attendant you’re deaf and may need in-flight announcements in person.
  • At the station – if you see lots of people on the platform move away, ask someone what’s going on. If in doubt, check with station staff.
  • At the hotel – inform the receptionist that you’re deaf so that they can alert you in case of emergency. Major hotels may have alerting devices which flash or vibrate strongly when the fire alarm goes off.

Challenge – not hearing what tour guides and activity leaders are saying


  • Tour guides will usually help by writing information down, pointing or using hand gestures. Book the tour in advance and ask for a transcript if possible.
  • There are some deaf tour guides – the sign language might be different but at least they’ll be deaf aware.
  • If there are activities you want to do with an interpreter, check in advance about disability access on the company’s website.

Challenge – communication barriers when seeking information


  • Visit the information centre and get lots of leaflets. Ask staff to make bookings for you.
  • Use the internet - you can often make online bookings.
  • In some countries, there are services for deaf people such as typetalk.
  • Write things down if necessary.

Challenge – Looking after hearing technology abroad


  • Make sure there’s space in your luggage for your hearing equipment, and don’t forget spare batteries.
  • Consider buying a dehumidifier for drying out your hearing aids.
  • As with any other precious belongings, lock up your hearing technology when you’re not using it.

Challenge – swimming without your hearing technology. Will you feel safe without it and how far away are you willing to swim from it?


  • You can buy a waterproof bag to keep your hearing technology safe and dry on the poolside or beach while you’re swimming.
  • If you’re with a group of people, ask one of them to guard your hearing technology while you’re swimming, and take turns in the water.

Read about Sara's overseas adventures.