Favorite Packing Tips for ADHD Adults

 In Organizing ADHD

packing tip

Hi everyone! Who plans to travel this summer? I know a number of my ADHD coaching clients do. That’s why I’ve put together my favorite packing tips for ADHD Adults sure to keep you organized no matter where, or when, you travel.

If you remember, last week we discussed Why Packing For a Trip Challenges ADHD Adults and I promised you some ADHD packing tips. Here you go, I’m keeping my promise!

Favorite Travel Packing Tips for ADHD Adults

1. The very first thing an ADHD adult needs before beginning to pack is a list.

Here’s my favorite packing list tip: it takes a bit of preparation and organization, but this tip will be your best travel buddy for years to come.

First type a list of necessary items for every kind of trip you take. Why a separate list for each different type of trip? Because they each call for different clothes and gear. I have a  list for business trips, camping trips, ski trips, and family car trips.

Next, print out your lists and put each in a plastic paper protector in a small binder labeled “Travel Lists”. Now put that binder some place obvious. I keep mine on the cookbook shelf in the kitchen.

Voila! Each time you pack for a trip, there’s no need to print out a new list; simply open the binder to the correct list. As you stick each item in your suitcase, mark it off the list with a dry-erase marker. The check marks will easily wipe off your list with a tissue or rubbing alcohol.

(Don’t you dare take that list out of the binder. It’ll get lost for sure.)

2. Another great way to organize your trip is to plan outfits by the day.

For example, say you’re going on a business trip and have to dress for the weekend. You’ll drive for a bit, go to your meeting, go out somewhere nice for dinner, and do a little sightseeing before leaving Sunday morning. Take a second, grab a pen and paper, and write out what you’re going to be doing and what you need to wear.

Organize your outfit list like this…

Friday: Travel day: jeans, blue blouse, black sweater, sneakers.

Saturday: Business meeting: black slacks, green blouse, black flats, pearl necklace and dressy watch.

Saturday evening Dinner: dress, paisley scarf, black pumps, teardrop earrings.

Sunday: Site seeing, then travel home: jeans, sneakers, pink t-shirt, gray sweatshirt.

Look! You’ve already figured out exactly what to bring! No need to pack your entire wardrobe for a three-day quick-trip, just neatly organize your outfits in your suitcase.

3. When choosing outfits, center around one major color group

Likely blacks or browns and plan to mix and match what you wear. You won’t need to pack as many clothes or as many shoes!

4. The “Smash It” trick

For stuff that doesn’t wrinkle, like socks and underwear or sweaters and bathing suits, put them in large Ziplock bags and smash them while squeezing out the air. They’ll take up less space in the suitcase.

5. Pack a small empty spray bottle.

You see, it’s against my religion to iron. Thankfully, I’ve learned that I can spray most clothes with water and rub out the wrinkles. Also, if you’re willing to spend a couple of extra bucks, there are anti-wrinkle sprays that work very well and come in travel size.

6. Use dry-cleaning bags and hangers.

Of course, you can avoid ironing altogether if you pack smart. This idea from The Cruisediva can save some real time when packing and when dressing.

When you pack, keep your clothes on their hangers. Next, cover them with dry cleaning bags and do a simple fold-over in your suitcase. That’s it! Not only is this painless to unpack (just hang it up) but no iron (or spray-bottle) is necessary.

Remember this ADHD organizing and packing motto: Less is more. Be really selective about what earns it’s way into your luggage and you’ll find less mess, and have more fun!

Tell us, do you have any favorite packing tips for ADHD Adults? We would love to know what works for you. Leave a comment below.

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Showing 5 comments
  • Mayhem

    Hi there!

    I used to have loads of trouble looking for things that are quickly required like passport, wallet, id etc. in those huge bags with only one packet.. so now i’ve got small purse with many pockets (2 outer and three inner yet the purse is barely the size of two hands).. i keep the important stuff in it & small personal items (visa, money, wallet, lip balm etc).. i sling it over my head&shoulder & keep it at the front coz even though nothing bad has happened to me yet, i remain very paranoid (due to other diagnosis)..

    also, i’ve now got a big wallet, in which everything has a separate slot, coz the tinier the thing is, the more likely i am to lose it.. it even has a slot for my paper/pencil/calender (my to-dos on phones dont help coz i lose phones a lot).. & it has the clip thingie on which i put my car keys & an inner keyring to put other keys..

    it would be a mini-disaster if i lost this, but so far (an year almost) i haven’t..

    sorry i wandered off topic a bit..

    but i’ll go through your blogs now coz i’m going on a major travel trip (an year study in london) that i need tips on!

    thanks for the blog! 🙂

  • Pearl

    When you pack, keep your clothes on their hangers. Next, cover them with dry cleaning bags and do a simple fold-over in your suitcase. That’s it! Not only is this painless to unpack (just hang it up) but no iron (or spray-bottle) is necessary.

    • Dana Rayburn

      I’ve heard of this but have never tried it. Seems like an extra step to me….BUT I’ll give it a go. If it works it will save steps! Thanks for sharing the idea.

  • Sinead

    So i’m mid-forties and diagnosed a few years back. Has helped me give up trying to do things the ‘normal’ way and work with the adhd where possible, i.e. there’s no way that i can pack (or write a packing list) the day before and expect to remember everything; however, i will have random thoughts in the weeks beforehand about things to pack, which will be sparked by some other random thought. So, my tip is … weeks before the trip, have the actual suitcase out, or at least chosen (if you have room), or if you don’t have room, make a labelled plastic bag (ideally clear plastic) for each upcoming trip, and as you remember the weirder things you might need to bring, just add them into the bag OR add a postit into the bag to remind you you’ll need them on the day (I say post-its because i now carry them around everywhere to write down the random ‘to do’s that strike me … that way they’re captured, and i can worry later about adding them to whatever planning tool i’m trying and failing with this week). Anyway, to give examples of how i use this: i live in the UK but i fly home to my home country once a month. I now permanently have a plastic bag marked ‘next trip to home’ … and, as i think of things to bring home i just add them into the bag – so for example, i was talking to a friend and promised to being back a book for him. I immediately wrote the post-it, ‘add book to ‘next trip home’ bag’, and then i put the book itself into the bag as soon as i could. Job done. No need to worry about remembering it when writing a list later. or i remembered suddenly last week that it’s my nephews birthday after my next trip home. I had his card, so i put that straight into the bag, because again, it’s not a regular packing item, so it’s very likely i’d forget on the day i was packing. Same with travel documents – weeks before, i start gathering them as i think of them (or at least a post-it with each on it), and adding them to a bag for that trip. TIP 1 TL:DR. Accept that you’ll never be able to sit down and easily write a complete packing list in a linear fashion all in one go, and that you’ll remember things at odd times, and set up a bag per trip as soon as that trip is booked (either the actual suitcase, or just a temp plastic one) where you can chuck in things as you remember them, or at least post-its with the name of the thing on them. TIP 2: I find toiletries hard to decide what to pack, so now i’ve got duplicate toiletries in a pre-packed travel bag of toiletries (toothpaste, brush etc etc), plus a list in there that suggests extra things (which are too expensive to duplicate eg medicine and makeup). In fact i’ve gone one further because, although it’s expensive, i’ve bought toiletries and left them back in my parents and in-laws house (where we travel regularily) so again, it takes some of the overwhelm out of travelling on those regular trips, and then i’ve two more sets, one bigger one for travelling overland to places within the UK, and another one for travelling on airplances to places. A lot of haslle to set up, but it really takes the ‘overwhelm’ out of packing toiletries, and is just one of the stesp that stops me from drying with frustration, tiredness, and panic, every time i pack. Sorry this is so long and rambly.

    • Dana Rayburn

      Thanks! Great ideas. I use the duplicate toiletries strategy, too.

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