Holiday & Travel Planning

Air Travel Advice for Anyone with ADHD

Tips for coping with the hassles of air travel.

Traveling to school and other college life skills
Traveling to school and other college life skills

Confinement in tight quarters… Nothing to eat except crackers… Subjection to random searches… No, it’s not punishment for your latest felony. It’s traveling by air this summer.

Such circumstances make it even more difficult for people with ADHD to cope with the hassles of traveling. Here’s some help.

Arrive Earlier Than Early

Unfortunately, you can no longer arrive at the airport at the last minute and run to catch your plane. Airlines advise that we arrive 2 hours before departure. But people with ADHD should arrive 15 minutes earlier. Yes, I did say earlier! By beating the rush of everyone else scheduled for your flight, you’ll avoid long lines and can spend your two hours shopping, eating, or reading.

Secure Yourself

Remember to exclude sharp objects from your carry on luggage. One unacceptable item (like a Swiss Army Knife key ring) can delay you for hours and cause you to miss your flight. New procedures may require you to take off your shoes, so check your socks for holes.

Curb impulsive comments about terrorism, bombs, and the like. These days, even offhanded remarks can delay your flight or even land you in custody.

Try Socially Appropriate Stealth

If your flight is cancelled, rather than wait in line, call your airline’s central reservation number. Everyone on your flight ahead of you in line is trying to get on the same flights, and by calling you have access to more agents and you can usually get a seat sooner than if you stay in line. If you have a cell phone, call while in line; if not run to a pay phone. This is socially acceptable line jumping.

BYO Food

Bring food and water. The airlines have cut back on food service. Gone are the water bottles and soda. At best, expect tiny cups that may or may not be refilled. Meals, usually downsized to “snacks,” include something like fruit, and teeny servings of processed cheese, crackers, and chocolate. If you get a “real meal” it is often, shall we say, underwhelming.