Soon — we can't say for sure when — people will be safe to travel again. 

We'll be safe to do all the things we couldn't do last summer. 

We can almost hear the collective sighs of relief at the thought of taking an actual vacation. We get it, but we'd also be remiss if we didn't remind you to be careful. If nothing else, the past year and a half demonstrated the crucial importance of both hygiene and safety. 

With that in mind, we'd like to offer a few tips for keeping your ears (and your hearing) safe on your next summer vacation, whether you're taking a trip or simply relaxing around your home city. 

If You're Flying, Bring Earplugs or Noise-Cancelling Headphones

We've all experienced that unpleasant popping sensation that goes hand-in-hand with taking a flight somewhere. Colloquially known as airplane ear, it's usually nothing more than an annoyance, a period of moderate to extreme discomfort that may be accompanied by temporary hearing loss and tinnitus. However, in some rare cases, it can cause something a bit more serious — a ruptured eardrum, which can potentially lead to an ear infection.

The best way to avoid this, aside from keeping some gum in your pocket, is with noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. As an added bonus, this will help you drown out potentially harmful background noise from the flight, such as screaming children. Beyond that, stay hydrated. 

Be Careful Where You Swim

If you knew even half the nasty stuff potentially hiding in the water, you'd never want to go swimming again.

We'll spare you the gory details. But we'll also offer a word of caution. Whether you're out with friends or halfway around the world, always stop and take stock of your surroundings before diving into the nearest body of water. Swimming in water that's unclean can often lead to a condition known as swimmer's ear.

In severe cases, this infection can cause permanent damage to your inner ear.

Try Not to Attend Any Concerts, Events, or Festivals Without Hearing Protection

We've talked before about how much noise is present in the modern world and the importance of protecting yourself. That doesn't just apply to taking the subway or working around loud machinery. Summer events like festivals and concerts can cause just as much damage if you aren't careful.

If you absolutely cannot miss an event, you might consider investing in the same type of specialized earplugs worn by some musicians. They're designed to filter out noise above a specific decibel while still allowing you to experience a performance’s full soundscape. Fittingly, they're called musician's earplugs — you can buy a pair for yourself on 

Enjoy Yourself, But Be Safe

Everyone could use a vacation now and then. Just make sure that you don't do anything that could put your ears (or any other part of your body) at risk when you take yours. Most importantly, relax and have fun.

You've more than earned it.