If flying is going to be part of your holiday season — or the New Year — here are a few tips for taking care of your ears.
And they do need taking care of. It’s not just the pressure changes that are a fact of flying life that can take a toll. Even on the inside of a plane — much less nearby the outside of one — it can get loud.

The internal sound level on takeoff in some airliners can briefly get as high as 105 decibels — which is equal to a rock concert. Even after reaching altitude, the sound of a crowded plane with engines at work levels off at 85 decibels, which is still pretty noticeable. Most regulations peg max noise exposure over eight hours at 85 decibels, so that’s right on the line of problematic on a really long flight.

That’s why bringing some decent earplugs — there are even models designed especially for air travel — is a good idea. Specialized units include technology that helps equalize pressure in the ear during altitude changes (while also providing noise suppression capabilities).

Another option is to chew gum (which will help with the ear-popping) while listening to music, a podcast, or in-flight entertainment through noise-canceling headphones. Not only do you get to be entertained, but the low-level noise of the plane — and that truly high-level noise of the baby a few rows back — are wiped out. Both your ears and sanity are protected.

And don’t forget that seats in the front of the plane and on the aisle tend to be a little quieter because they are farther from the engines (every little bit helps). Booking early — or getting to the gate early — might be worth it for getting those slightly quieter seats.