ADD-Friendly Vacation Planning

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

ADHD adults can get travel advice, travel tips, and more. ADDitude Magazine

Preplanned vacations, such as escorted tours or cruises, tend to work best for those with ADHD.

Michele Novotni, Ph.D.
   
 

Hot Trip Tip

To ease pre-vacation pressures, keep one organizer stocked with all of your toiletries ready to go in your suitcase. This way, you can't leave home without it.

 
   

What if you woke up one morning and everything was different? What if your bathroom had moved? And your dresser had shrunk? And your favorite toiletries had been replaced with little bottles of unfamiliar stuff? And most of your things had disappeared?

Don't panic. Every summer, millions of people have this experience -- it's called a vacation. And the key to a successful one begins with choosing the right destination -- and planning the right kind of trip.

Preplanned vacations, such as escorted tours or cruises, tend to work best for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). Someone else maps out the routes, pinpoints the major sites, and makes all the travel arrangements (flights, hotels, even meals). All you have to do is show up.

Just make sure your destination meets your interests and needs. If you can't stand sitting quietly for hours watching waves tumble out of the ocean, steer clear of remote beach getaways that offer little else to do. On the other hand, if you want to relax and recharge, save quick-paced urban tours for another time. Here's a guide to great trips for folks with ADHD -- and why they work.

Plan the Right Trip

If you like to break up poolside relaxation with see-it-all tours, you'll love a vacation at sea. Cruise ships call in exotic destinations in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Europe, and Alaska, among other places, and make perfect getaways for families, couples, and singles because there's so much to do onboard -- and off.

Plan your whole trip with one call to your travel agent. They're great for folks with ADHD because they offer some structure, some downtime, and lots of flexibility. Unpack once and see the world -- or a good chunk of it.

With their tennis courts, pools, swim-up bars, spas, and gorgeous beachfront settings, all-inclusive resorts have become virtual summer camps for adults. One flat hotel fee includes meals, activities, and, sometimes, drinks. These sprawling luxury retreats are most commonly found along sparkling shorelines in places like the Caribbean and Mexico. They make sense for folks with ADHD, because there's nothing else to worry about once you arrive. There are no schedules to adhere to, no research to do, no routes to map out. Your only job is to relax. But if too much downtime drives you crazy, make sure you find out about local excursions. Then just dial the concierge, and -- presto! -- he'll set it up.

If you want to visit a foreign place but don't want to do any legwork, consider an escorted group tour. You can find them all over the world - China, Italy, France, Australia, Africa, even in the U.S. You'll probably need to pack and unpack a few times throughout your trip, but that's as hard as escorted tour life gets. These trips combine adventure and structure. No need to learn foreign languages, or drive on the wrong side of the road. Instead, a guide leads you to attractions, books your hotels, and plans your meals. As for you, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Alternative Vacation Ideas

While escorted group tours supply structure, they can make you feel like you're on somebody else's schedule. If you'd rather call the shots, arrange for a private guide to customize a tour for you. Generally, such trips are more expensive than escorted tours, but you don't have to travel by bus or in a large group. And your vacation is centered around your personal preferences and interests. For ADHD adults, this means maximum flexibility -- you say when and where, and someone else makes it happen. You can even change your mind.

A vacation doesn't always have to mean leaving home. You can stay put in your hometown and still get a break. Just don't head for the sofa. Instead, pretend you're on a trip and explore local sights as if you were a tourist. Consider eating all your meals out to create the illusion of an away-from-home vacation. This works well for adults with ADHD. At home, your support systems are already in place, and you know how they work.

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