Tinnitus and Travel
Going abroad with tinnitus?
Let´s start by saying not every trip is the same. And then let´s continue with talking about different kinds of travel.
I´ll share with you my travel exeprience by telling you what traveling has been like for since I have had tinnitus.
Well, I would say it depends on what kind of trip I take. If I go on a trip in my car, if I go on a bustrip or travel by plane or train.
Sharing my trip to Germany on instagram has brought up the question for some what traveling with tinnitus is like.
Let me emphesise again, that it is not the same for everyone. I have just light hypercausis, that means my ears are sensitive but not to every noise and not at a very low level. For example a vaccum feels like someone tears my eardrums apart, but I can stand a mixer for a little while without feeling like blood will come out my ears at any point.
General traveling precautions and actions
Generally I can say, that I always bring ear plugs and a hair band or something to cover my ears with to protect them from loud noises or from any kind of draft or wind.
I usually bring headphones to be able to distract myself from any kind of noise by listening to music, audios or videos.
In particular I bring noise-cancelling headphones – that way I am able to tune out the travel noises and follow travellers and at the sime time I can listen to what ever I want to listen to and at a much lower volume than with normal headphones.
More about headphones here:
I try to stay hydrated the whole time, I feel like the liquids provided on the plane are never enough or if I go by car or what ever means of transportation I take, I always try to get as much liquid into my body as possilbe even if it means having to go to the bathroom more often. Not being dehydrated makes me generally feel well, not sleepy nor do I get a headache that way. Headaches also influence my tinnitus quite a bit, so I try to avoid them as much as possible. Also being dehydrated seems to influcence my tinnitus, at least if I´m dehydrated quit a bit.
Not just staying hydrated, but also eating well is something that influences my general well-being and my health. So i try to eat well even when traveling. A salad usually can be bought anywhere and I feel like if you order vegan food on a plane you get actually something nutritious to eat.
My mood and my state of relaxation also influences my tinnitus, so I try to always make sure to feel well during my trip. When I drive I make sure to listen to the music I love or to a relaxing audio. If something unforseeable happens I try to breath through it rather to get annoyed. The same goes for any other trip basically. Anything that calms me down, when traveling the options are limited so I try to work with music and audios or books also work. If I have an amazing book it doesnt really matter what happens around me. A lot of times I also bring feel good items, like a favorite pillow or my favorite smell, that sort of stuff.
Last but not least . . .
. . . staying calm and not making a big deal about things really helps me to have good travel experiences. That I´m able to reach through breathing techniques, distraction or avoiding my trigger points or sources of annoyance.
Traveling by car
Most of my life I have gotten motion sick, of course with tinnitus and light vertigo that hasn´t gotten better. I prefer to drive as I don´t get sick when I drive. Straight roads don´t affect me at all.
My tinnitus does get affected if there is a lot of noise around. So like going through a tunnel for a long time or next to a railroad that is very busy. One thing that actually really affects me and my ears is if there is circulating air, so I just avoid opening two windows at a time or if it is windy I don´t open a window at all or just a tiny little bit. I try to use the AC, but not too high as too cold air on my ears does´t do it for me either. I don´t think that is about tinnitus, it might come from me being sensitive and getting ear infections or rather sinus infections really easily.
To have a smooth trip I always take music with me, which makes me happy.
Traveling by bus
Traveling by bus is for me the same as by car, just that I don´t have the option of being the driver of course. So I try not to read to much as that makes the motion sickness worse or come on quicker than normally. Often I don´t feel like bothering to many people about closing their windows, so I just take something with me to over my ears. Not to tight as that causes me to hear my tinnitus even louder.
Traveling by train
There are different trains of course, so if I take a super fast and modern train, they are usually not very loud. So I haven´t really had any problems there. I haven´t been in one of those trains in a long time and don´t remember windows to be open or of having the option to open them, but I actually always take something with my to protect my ears. Just in case.
Those older and slower trains are actually my problem, they are super loud and many people open the windows all the time. So for the windows I actually take something with me to protect my ears. To cover up the noise I either listen to music or to an audio at least or I take ear plugs with me. That helps, otherwise my ears ring a lot louder afterwards.
Traveling by airplane
I have heard a lot to the contrary, but for me traveling by plane isn´t really a problem.
There are I few things I try to avoid though:
- I try to avoid being close to loud noise sources.
- I´m not sure how you feel about it or how much it affects you, but when babys and children cry that really hurts my ears. So I try to avoid as far as posible to be super close to families with small children.
- The same applies for big groups.
- Also when I get asked what seat I want, I try to get a seat on the aisle and not next to the turbin nor by the emergency exit. Those are also sources of a lot of noise. I feel like the seats on the window are louder, especially the one by the emergency exit. Also if I have an aisle seat, what ever happens I can get up easliy and walk around or even go to the bathroom as often as I feel like it without having to disturbe my seat neighbors the whole time.
- The same applies as on any other trip, I´m always prepared with something to cover up my ears, with ear plugs and headphones to distract myself with.
High altitutde and pressure
Many people have asked me about this before, just FYI my doctor told me once that the reason why my tinnius is not as bad in Cusco (3400 masl) is that through the high altititue the air pressure is less, which makes the pressure on the ears less – hence the tinnitus is not as strong.
I can only confirm that, but also feel like it is not the same when traveling by plane. I have to add, I have not had once a problem when traving in plane with my tinnitus due to pressure or altitutde. Of course I have to do pressure compensation once in a while, but I don´t think that is a problem. To be honest I actually don´t notice my tinnitus much when I´m on the plane.
I try to distract myself when I travel, for example by listening to music or watching a ton of movies when I´m on the plane. I watch movies until I fall asleep actually. The same goes for airports, when I have to wait for a long time I try to find a quiet spot and then I try to distract myself until it is time to board the plane.
Even when the plane lands and I´m back on solid ground, the ringing isn´t any stronger as normal. And has never been.
That is all about my travel experiences!
Let me know about yours!!