The ADHD Traveller
Adventure vs. Overwhelm: ADHD Travel
Travel can put you in a bind if you have attention deficit disorder. Adults with ADD love travel and adventure -- but we're also prone to overwhelm and anxiety, and few things are more overwhelming than travel.
Traveling requires a lot of attention to detail, and mistakes can be very costly. You need your boarding pass, your ID, and if you're traveling internationally, your passport. You need luggage, well-packed with clothing and toiletries, but not so well packed that you go over the weight limit for bags. You need a personal bag for the plane, with your laptop, cables, and adapters. Oh -- AND you need to be at the airport on time.
And that's not even getting to the stuff you needed to deal with before packing. Stuff like shopping for the things you'll need to bring on your trip, finding a pet sitter, or getting someone to pick up the mail.
For an ADD adult, dealing with any one of these things can be pretty stressful. Travel requires us to deal with all of them at once. Over the course of various travels, I've learned how to prepare for my relaxing vacation without having a nervous breakdown along the way.
For years, I was unable to pack for a trip, or even decide what to bring, without huge amounts of anxiety. Would I have enough underwear? Shouldn't I make sure to pack at least one outfit for every possible kind of weather? Pretty soon I'd have myself worked up to a point where I was convinced I needed to be ready for a black-tie formal event that was being held in a raging blizzard.
Stress-free ADHD Travel Tip!
Keep prescription medications in your carry on or personal item! If you check these medications, and your luggage gets lost, your meds could get lost too. For stress-free travel, keep them with you at all times.
How to Pack with ADHD
Ditch the dress clothes.
After my first several trips, I realized that I only wore about half of the items I had carefully packed and then hauled halfway across the world. When I was a kid, whenever we took a trip my mother made us bring at least one dressy outfit, and this habit persisted well into my adult years. I don't know if it's because life is less formal than it used to be, or if my mom just wanted us to impress elderly relatives, but in my grown-up travels I never dress up.
The lesson I've taken from this is that if you don't ordinarily go places where a jacket and tie are required, you won't need them wherever you're going. This is great news, because dress clothes take up a ton of space, and that's just by themselves -- once you add shoes, make-up, jewelry, and any weirdly-specific underwear that plunged neckline cross-over spaghetti-strap cocktail dress requires, half your suitcase is gone.
I've found that I can easily get by with a pair of jeans, a pair of nicer pants, and four or five blouses. I bring a vest or two and a wrap in case I want to vary my outfits at all. That's it. No skirt, no dress, and best of all, no dress shoes; which means that I have more room for long underwear, if I'm traveling in winter -- and if the weather is warm, I can get away with a lot less luggage.
An ADD Adult Goes to Paris, and ... - doesn't go crazy first
I recently took a trip to France. It was a wonderful trip. I loved the country, and the people, and the City itself.
But whenever I travel, I find that I'm unreasonably stressed out about packing and getting there -- so I decided that I'd get an early start this time. I wrote about it at Well-Ordered Chaos, my blog about ADD Organizing.
- Organized Travel, ADHD Style
A good three weeks ahead of when I was scheduled to leave, I decided that This Time Would Be Different. And it almost was.
- Stupid Pants!
Going to France meant buying new pants (because my old ones were two sizes too big). Trouble is, shopping for pants is much harder than it should be. Ladies, YOU know what I'm talking about!
- Attempted Travel Planning
I decided to make a travel to-do list. By posting it publicly on my blog, I would help myself think it through, and also hold myself accountable for doing something about it. It's a good to-do-list, you should check it out.
Is The Extra Bag Fee Worth It? - Share Your Thoughts Here!
Now that airlines (at least in the United States) have instituted extra fees for checked luggage, a lot of people are paring down their packing list to fit into carry-on luggage. But others can't imagine traveling without their stuff. What kind of traveler are you?
Would you rather pay for a checked bag, and be sure to have everything you might need; or would you rather take a chance, and bring less stuff in a single carry-on?
My Trip to Paris: The Plot Thickens - ... like an artfully crafted chocolate mousse, whipped to soft peaks
I felt pretty proud of myself for getting such a big head start on my trip to Paris. I thought there was a good chance that by the day before my trip, I'd be chilling at home with the cats, packing my suitcase, cleaning the house, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
That is, until an unforeseen circumstance caused the trip to be moved up by a week.
- Really, Universe? REALLY?
In which I find that I have much less time to prepare for my trip than I thought, and only go slightly mad.
- 36 Hours to Go ... Will I Make It?
With 36 hours to go before my flight, I updated my to-do list, and tackled that last-minute shopping.
- Posting from the lounge at JFK, en route to Paris!
I was up until 3 am the night before my trip ... but if I hadn't been organized ahead of time, I don't know how I could have handled the date change. I did forget my toothbrush -- but it turns out they sell those in France too, so it was all good.
This is where "out the door" time comes in handy. If I have a 3:30 pm domestic flight, I can't be thinking about "3:30 pm", which is when I need to be on the airplane, luggage stowed, seat belt buckled. I need to be thinking about my "out the door" time. If my flight is at 3:30, that means that 2:30 is the latest time I can make it to the airport and hope to get through bag check and security. That means I need to catch a train by 1:45 at the latest, which probably means I need to catch a 1:35 streetcar, which means I need to be thinking of an "out the door" time of 1:30 pm.
Visual Countdown Timer - Complete with pretty colors.
Getting anywhere on time can be a problem for someone with attention deficit disorder. Adults with ADD tend not to have a firm grasp on the passage of time -- however hard we try, it just drifts by us until, before we know it, we're running late. A visual timer solves this problem by color-coding the time you have left. Green is "plenty of time", Yellow means "wrap it up", and Red means it's "out the door time"!
ADHD Travel for the Whole Family - Adults, kids, and everyone in between.
ADHD can make travel tough on the whole family. Adults with ADD are more likely to have kids with ADD, which means that everyone is trying to negotiate a situation that exacerbates their ADHD in different ways. These links can help you have a relaxing vacation for the whole family.
- "Stress-Free Travel Tips for ADHD Families" from ADDitude Magazine
This article from ADDitute Magazine offers suggestions for what to bring, how to save money and stay healthy, and even a free travel packing list you can download to your computer.
- Traveling with ADHD Children
Travel can be difficult for children with ADHD, but a little structure can help make your family trip fun and rewarding. Here are tips that can help.
- ADHD Travel Insurace
Unfortunately this service is only available to UK residence. But if you live in the UK, and you're one of those ADD adults who loves extreme sports, this travel insurance won't exclude you based on pre-existing conditions like ADHD.
Top Ten ADHD Travel Hacks - Simplify.
If you read this, there's a good chance you have ADHD. Which means you maybe didn't pay such close attention to everything I've said so far. That's OK. Here is everything I've ever learned about travel, in a convenient numbered list.
- For longer trips, get a medium-sized toiletry bag. Keep it well-stocked, and store it in your suitcase. I used to waste a ton of time chasing down all the toiletries I need to travel. I solved this problem with a permanent toiletry bag that lives in my suitcase.
- For shorter trips, get an airport-friendly toiletry bag. Fill the 3 oz. bottles with shampoo, conditioner, lotion, or whatever else you need to bring with you. Store it in your carry-on. An airport-friendly toiletry bag comes in a one quart size with several bottles that are clearly marked "3 oz". It's easy to reach into your carry-on and grab it when you go through security.
- Ditch the dress clothes. Unless you're going to a wedding, or have tickets to opening night in your very own box at at La Scala, you can probably get away with casual clothes.
- Get an airport-friendly laptop case. You've already taken your laptop case out of your carry-on. Now you can avoid taking your laptop out of its case.
- Make a packing list on your word processor and save it.This way, you only have to make the list once, and it's easy to make changes depending on the specifics of your trip.
- Be at the airport at least one hour before your domestic flight, and two hours before your international flight. You need to leave yourself enough time to go through security and possibly to check luggage.
- Pick an "out the door" time and stick to it.In order to manage the previous item, don't think about when your plane leaves -- think about when you need to be out the door to make your flight, check your luggage, and go through security.
- Check in for your flight online, and print your boarding pass before you leave the house. This is one less line to stand in at the airport.
Store Your Clothes On Site!
Is there a particular place that you visit a lot -- like your family? Leave full-size toiletries and a few changes of clothes at your family's place. My mother-in-law has a set of clothes and sundries she keeps at her mother's house. She says she just LOVES the feeling of boarding a plane with only her purse!
The most important thing I've learned is that there's really not a lot to worry about.
Leave travel tips and comments here. You don't have to be a squidoo member -- anyone can participate!