Holiday & Travel Planning

Get Packing!

Make vacations more fun by devising a detailed packing list for each member of the family.

Travel Organization for ADHD Adults: Vacation Packing Tips
Travel Organization for ADHD Adults: Vacation Packing Tips

Why is packing such a daunting task for people with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD)? Is it because we don’t know where to begin? That we have to make decisions? I don’t know. I do know that putting it off does not make it easier – especially when you find your favorite jeans in the hamper and have to do a last-minute wash. Tired is not the way to start a trip.

The secret to stress-free packing is to make a detailed list for each person going on the trip. Packing lists vary, of course, according to the season and the type, length, and location of your vacation. But the sample list below is a good place to start. Customize this list for yourself and for everyone else, and save all the lists on your computer. Then, simply update and print out a fresh list each time you travel.

How much should you bring?

Most people can fit everything they need for a one-week vacation into one suitcase. If you’ve filled one and are starting on a second, I urge you to consider leaving some stuff behind. You don’t want to have to shoehorn your family into the car – or, if you’re flying, to pay an excess-baggage fee. If you forget something important, odds are, you can buy it at your destination.

I’ve found it helpful to store certain items right in my suitcase, so that I don’t have to repack them for each trip. I’m talking about things like an umbrella, sewing kit, lint brush, first-aid kit, alarm clock, and – if you travel frequently – a fully stocked cosmetics/toiletry bag.

To cut down on the number of outfits you’ll need to pack, opt for clothes that can be mixed, matched, and layered. In summer, white pants go with just about everything (black pants are more versatile in winter). Instead of a spare sweater or long-sleeved shirt, bring along a stain-remover pen – they take up much less space.

Snacks and reading material can be purchased at the airport or along the way – or bring them with you to save money. If you’ll be preparing meals at your destination, make a grocery shopping list when you arrive, so you won’t have to make several trips.

Saving money, staying healthy

If you’ll be using a credit or debit card to get cash on your trip, be sure to memorize the PIN number. If you don’t trust your memory, leave the number in a saved voice mail on your cell phone. Don’t identify the digits as a PIN. For example, if the PIN is 1795, say, “I found the shoes that Sally was looking for, and they’re only $17.95.”

Many banks charge exorbitant fees for cash advances from credit cards. To avoid an unpleasant surprise on your next banking statement, call the bank ahead of time to ask about its cash advance policy. (It may be cheaper to use a debit card – or to carry traveler’s checks.)

Headed abroad? The U.S. State Department Web site is a source of invaluable information about visas as well as vital safety – and health-related precautions (for example, whether you’ll need to get any vaccinations or take antimalaria pills in advance of your trip).

Where you pack everything is as important as what you pack. All travel and reservation information should be kept in your purse or carry-on, along with your driver’s license, credit cards, money, passport, any medications you take, and a change of clothing. Keep copies of your passport, credit card, driver’s license, and prescriptions for these medications in a separate piece of luggage – in case your purse or carry-on gets lost or stolen.

Bon voyage!

Download a copy of a Master Packing List that will help you prepare for your trip.

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