Guest Blogs

Road Trip: ADHD Style

One mom with ADHD explains the challenges of taking a family vacation when you’re easily distracted, disorganized and hyperactive.

happy little girl with ADHD riding with her family sitting in the car
happy little girl with ADHD riding with her family sitting in the car

First, you have to pack. You have to organize, stay on task, pack one thing — and only one thing — at a time. You have to do this over and over, in room after room, and say a silent prayer that you haven’t forgotten anything. Then you need to check your bags — and recheck your bags.

On our last trip, I forgot razors, toothbrushes, life jackets, and pajamas for my middle son. I remembered all the charging cord to the electronics, though, so I counted it as a win. On one trip, I forgot my entire suitcase and had to buy a new wardrobe, courtesy of Target and my in-laws.

Once you’re packed, you have to get in the car. This involves making sure everyone has their preferred electronic devices, books, stuffed animals, and snacks. It means making sure all of the above are readily accessible in the event of a snack emergency (there will always be a snack emergency). You need a stimulant of choice and a map to every Starbucks off the interstate.

You start driving.

Someone has to pee.

[Read: Vacations Are Supposed to Be Fun, Right?!?]

You pull over at the fast-food place three miles from your house, at which point everyone suddenly needs a snack. Not the kind you packed, but the fast-food kind. You are forced to purchase a round of French fries for everyone in the car, plus a sandwich or two.

Finally, you’re back on the road, car floor littered with fast-food wrappers. You suck down drive-through cokes and eat up the miles. You can do this. It’s all coming together. But sooner or later, the ultimate hurdle arrives.

You arrive at your destination.

All of the careful luggage packing has collapsed under the swerves and quick stops of driving. So you have to unload it all, piece by piece. What comes out first isn’t what you need first, but something you won’t use for two days — and maybe not even then. Someone needs to load all this up, piece by piece by piece, and drag it into the vacation habitat.

[Read: Get Packing!]

Then someone in the vacation habitat has to make sense of it all. Every bag needs to go to a certain part of the house, and unpacked. This is the part where you start realizing what you’ve forgotten: your bras, the toothbrushes, and the waffles, without which your youngest son will not eat breakfast. You have to plug in all the electronics to recharge the batteries, and pray that you remembered all the cords.

After this, it will perhaps be time to eat. You will haul your brood to a restaurant, despite the cost, because the alternative is too much to bear. Keyed up from the drive, your children will be hellions. You will not care, because someone else fried that burger.

This keyed-up trend will continue when no one in the house wants to sleep. It doesn’t help that you forgot the bedtime stories. You will tell them a story instead, full of pirates and giant squid and swashbuckling princesses. You will be proud of it.

Your story is not Go, Dog. Go! and hence it sucks. You will resort to reciting the book from memory.

The children will eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion and the numerous promises you’ve made to every deity you can think of.

You will go to bed, and realize you forgot your bathing suit. And you haven’t even tried for the beach yet.

Travelling with ADHD: Next Steps:

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