Holiday & Travel Planning

8 Travel Essentials for Adults with ADHD

Going somewhere? These ADDitude readers share the travel essentials that can make or break their vacation. Remember them the next time you head out of town.

Overhead shot of woman packing a suitcase.
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You’ve picked the destination and made the travel arrangements. Now what? The final step of packing your bag can be the hardest because it raises so many questions. “What will the weather be like?” “Will I actually wear this?” “Can I buy this item there?” For many adults with ADHD, it’s easier to walk around the empty suitcase than to organize it.

As you pack for your next adventure, consider this question instead: What are your travel essentials? Start with those and work your way down. For these ADDitude readers, a travel essential is a phone, a book, noise-canceling headphones — even crochet needles and yarn. Share yours in the Comments section, above.

Women on train holding a smartphone. Close-up of hands
Female with smartphone in public transport. Close up on hands
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Travel Essential #1: Phone

“...My phone gives me access to students' online assignments so I can still do my job if I don't have my laptop. And I can call my husband or a designated friend if I forget to bring something important — something other than my phone.” — Sherry, Texas

“My world is on my phone. I can immerse myself in it if I stand alone in a public place. It’s a good distraction tool.” — Kerry, UK

 “I can’t find my way around unfamiliar places without my smartphone. I type my vacation itinerary into notes, the calendar reminds me when to leave for the bus, etc.” — Aviva, Israel

“My iPhone helps me adjust my hearing aids and has all of the apps and tools I use to help me get through the day — calendar, reminders, habit builder, the Maps app to calculate the best route, Siri to ask questions and send texts, etc.” — Bob, Arizona

Woman writing in journal. Close-up of pen in hand.
Close-up of woman's hands writing with pen on notepad
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Travel Essential #2: Notebook or Pad

“I keep a spiral notebook with travel information including meal plans and interesting places to visit. We mostly travel by car and take a lot of stuff with us to save money on meals. I learned recently that I did not utilize the packing checklist I had created; I ended up forgetting a lot of things I needed for the trip.” — Dorian, Texas

“My travel essential is a notepad and various colored pens to doodle with. I will also try to write down legible notes or ideas that come to me at odd times.” — Diane, UK

 “I get so many thoughts bouncing around in my head that I can have difficulty sleeping or focusing on other people, the moment, etc. I have to do a brain dump of my thoughts and feelings in my journal before I can wind down enough for sleep!” — Hannah, Pennsylvania

[Download: Health & Fitness Guide for Adults with ADHD]

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Travel Essential #3: Book

“I cannot be on a plane trip or visit without books. I read at least two a week. It is my escape. Not bad for a child who had difficulty learning to read due to auditory processing difficulties.” — Jane, California

“A book whittles the time away on long journeys, and it helps my mind sleep in the evening.” — Caz, California

“Something to read is something to look forward to. It gives my ADHD brain a break from overthinking. It’s also a passion, which inspires me to share my learnings.” — Vic, Australia

[The All-Time Best Books on ADHD]

Photo of women with headphones on, looking at art on the wall. Photo taken from behind, with subject looking away.
Johner Bildbyra AB +46 8 644 83 30 [email protected] [email protected]
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Travel Essential #4: Noise-Canceling Headphones

“I bring my AirPods with noise cancellation! (#CommissionsEarned) I constantly swing from feeling unstimulated and restless to overstimulated and overwhelmed. I can put my headphones in to listen to a podcast when I'm restless, or I can turn on the noise cancellation feature when there’s too much going on around me.” — An ADDitude reader, Colorado

“I cannot do anything, even for a minute, without my Bluetooth, noise-canceling headphones. The ability to listen to music or podcasts is key. I struggle with competing noises (sound clash of different music sources, lots of people shouting at once, etc.); my headphones help to silence them.” — Helen, UK

“My sound masking sleep headphones (Kokoon Nightbuds) or a combination of foam plugs and bone-conducting headphones. (#CommissionsEarned) My thoughts keep me up, so listening to Netflix helps. Plus, I’m crazy sensitive to sound… so this has been a sanity saver.” — Lea, Canada

[13 Productivity Playlists to Center and Focus ADHD Brains]

Man dispenses medication from a pill container into the palm of his hand. Close-up of hands.
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Travel Essential #5: Medication

“My ADHD medicine is as necessary as reading glasses to help stay calm and focused through chaotic and rapidly changing travel situations.” — Christi, Minnesota

“On our most recent international trip, I accidentally packed all of our prescription medications into the suitcases that went straight to our final destination. Having two ADHD livewires and this zombie ADHD mom without her six daily meds was a costly mistake. Even my mother was overwhelmed, and she wasn't staying with us! It was living proof that we all function as normal on those meds. Without them, we drive each other batty and are out of control.” — An ADDitude reader, Ohio

“My medication helps me sort through the chaos in my brain. It does not fix everything, but it helps me categorize and prioritize my thoughts and feelings and has made me more self-aware.” — An ADDitude reader

[Sign Up: ADHD Treatment Guide for Adults]

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Travel Essential #6 : Water

“I noticed that I'm always thirsty five minutes after I get into a vehicle, so now I don't go out the door without my water container.”  — Tiffany, Canada

“I truly can’t leave the house without a container full of cold water and will always take the opportunity to refill it whenever I can.” — Abigail, Michigan

Piano keys by the water. Classical piano is often used in music therapy for children with ADHD.
Piano keys by the water. Classical piano is often used in music therapy for children with ADHD.
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Travel Essential #7: Music

“I can do almost anything with my music. If I don't listen to my music, I can't function. I'm lost. Music is like water to me.” — Olivia, Mexico

“Music, hands down. My headphones are in and do not come out when I’m flying. I can drown out the overstimulating environment of people and keep anxieties down. I also think clearer with music; I rarely mess up my gate or times when I keep the tunes going.” — Laura, Oregon

Close up on woman's hands knitting
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Travel Essential #8: Crafts & Fidgets

“I bring a small enough ‘craft’ to fit in my carry-on bag. It could be as simple as a coloring book and crayons.” — Rachel, Ohio

“Some type of hand craft. Lately it has been crochet. I use a stitch marker to save my place when I put it down. I usually pick a simple stitch that repeats so I don't have to constantly look back at the pattern.” — An ADDitude reader, Florida

“Oddly, a Koosh ball. (#CommissionsEarned) I use it as a fidget toy. Amazing the games and energy that can be expelled. I’ve had many impromptu games of catch with random people. I also have a good luck charm (beanie baby) that has gone on every plane with me since I was in high school.” — Megan, Maine

Travel Essentials for Adults with ADHD: Next Steps

#CommissionsEarned As an Amazon Associate, ADDitude earns a commission from qualifying purchases made by ADDitude readers on the affiliate links we share. However, all products linked in the ADDitude Store have been independently selected by our editors and/or recommended by our readers. Prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

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