ADD-Friendly Vacation Planning

Do your summer vacations cause more stress than a week at the office?


Filed Under: Travel and Vacation Tips, Summer for ADHD Kids, Organization Tips for ADD Adults,

Great Escapes, Part 2

Anytime, Anywhere

While a break from work - and some time away from home -- presents a wonderful opportunity to see exotic places and enjoy new adventures, it also poses unique challenges for folks with ADHD.

Adults who have ADHD spend time, energy, and effort developing strategies, structures, and supports. Going on vacation -- or any other schedule disruption -- can blow that familiar structure to shreds. Those who rely on routines to function find themselves without predictability, and being in an unfamiliar place only makes things worse. So, does this mean you should avoid vacations if you have ADHD? Of course not, but you will need to pack some helpful strategies and take them with you.

Pack efficiently. Make a list of the things you'll need on your trip. Include items for special activities (swimming, hiking) and things that might be difficult (or pricey) to purchase away from home. Check your list over twice to ensure that you haven't forgotten anything.

Make two copies of your list. When packing for your trip, cross off items as you put them in your suitcase. Do the same when you pack for home, so you avoid leaving things at your hotel. Save your lists to use for future vacations.

Stow medication in your carry-on bag. Unfortunately, your checked luggage doesn't always arrive when you do.

Use structures you rely on at home. If you keep your keys in a specific place at home, keep them in a specific place in your hotel room. Consider packing a small basket for your keys and other loose items. Keep your travel documents together. Some travelers find an accordion envelope handy for tickets and passports - it's also a good place for receipts.

Book a quiet hotel room. Live music, vending machines, ice machines - hotels are full of sounds. For those with ADHD who have sleep difficulties, this could mean a vacation without a good night's rest. When you make your reservation, specify that you want a room far from elevators, ice machines, pools, and restaurants. As an added precaution, pack earplugs or noise-cancellation headsets so that you can fall asleep, no matter what's happening outside your door.

Check out your new turf. Examine your new surroundings before you settle in. Consider ways to make the environment work for you. Identify where you can keep your medication. Where can you keep your wallet? Your travel documents? Your clothes? If necessary, rearrange furniture, closets, desktops, so that the arrangement works best for you.

Give yourself extra time. For those with ADHD, time can be difficult to manage. But schedules play an important role in a vacation. Hotels charge for late check-outs. And airlines and cruises often require early check-ins -- arrive late, and you could miss your whole trip.

Stay on schedule. Use watches with alarms and digital apps. If you're traveling with your family, designate a timekeeper for your group. Set goals and plan where you want to be by when. Avoid arriving at the last minute to allow for unforeseen events, like traffic, and spur-of-the-moment meal stops. Visit websites such as MapQuest or AAA to estimate travel time.

Plan a backup system. Make copies of your travel documents. Keep a copy with you on vacation (separate from the originals) and leave a copy with a friend at home. If you lose your originals, you can still prove who you are and where you're from. Take extra medication with you, and keep it separate from your main supply, in case it gets lost. Or, bring a prescription that you can fill on the road.

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