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India, Earplugs & Quiet Bliss

When planning a backpacking trip to India, there are certain “must haves”, outside of your clothes, that should make the final cut in your limited packing space: 1) bug spray, 2) a mobile pharmacy, and 3) earplugs (for sure).

Being an audiologist, I assumed that I had this one covered but one trial night with the large-sized standard earplugs was enough to convince me that not all earplugs are created equal. I decided to call my good friend, Dr. A.U. Bankaitis of Oaktree Products, and ask her opinion on which ones I should take. Her immediate reaction was let me send you some to try and you tell me ones are your favorites. Sweet! Oaktree Products is that kind of business… the kind where relationships are important and customers’ opinion mean something.

So, in the plugs went and I was ready to take on this exotic land. Delhi, India is a good 16 hours in the air from Denver and if I was going to survive the jetlag, I would have to sleep on the plane. British Airways was kind enough to offer noise-cancelling headphones, but the combination of earplugs and headphones proved to be the best option. From the moment we stepped out of the airport, we learned very quickly that India has no dimmer switch. The cacophony of sights, sounds and smells can be overwhelming and my senses were absolutely working overtime. We traveled by taxi, rickshaw, and train, two of which were overnight trains. At the hotels, there were dogs barking, traffic noise, and people talking and moving about at all hours of night. Actually, in several towns, I would also add feisty and loud monkeys to that list! Needless to say, sound suppression was the only way we were going to get the needed sleep and downtime from the constant barrage of sounds.

My traveling companions and I felt like the Howard Leight Max Lite earplugs were the best. They were soft, squishy and easily inserted properly into the smaller ear canals. They had very good sound suppression and stayed inserted and in place, even through the tossing and turning of trying to sleep on the overnight trains. We used them multiple times and when other plugs fell short, I found myself reaching for the Max Lite earplugs. The Howard Leight Max 33 earplugs were probably the best for sound suppression but they tended to fall out when sleeping. The Moldex Pura-Fit 6800 earplugs were too big for most of our female ears and because of this, they fell out quite a bit. While they did block noise, they were uncomfortable. The E-A-R Classic Foam standard-size earplugs were probably my least favorite. They were cylindrical and hard. I honestly didn’t wear them for more than 30 minutes before going back to the Max Lites.

After the experience, the best advice is make sure you have earplugs that are not too big and are soft enough that you don’t feel pressure or discomfort. I am so grateful to have had the chance to try them on such a fantastic trip. On a side note, since coming home, I also found the Max Lites to come in handy with my snoring husband. Guess you don’t really have to travel half a world away to find some quiet bliss!

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