Mixing Vacation with ADHD: A Recipe for Stress

by | Jun 30, 2012 | Organizing ADHD | 0 comments

Vacation with ADHDHave you noticed how it’s more challenging for you, an ADHD Adult, to take a vacation than for people without Attention Deficit Disorder?

That’s because mixing a vacation with ADHD can be a recipe for stress and exhaustion.

Many people with ADD find managing the details of daily living difficult as is. Adding in the extra tasks of preparing for and returning home from a vacation can push them over the edge.

So, should a person with ADHD stop taking vacation altogether? Of course not! Instead, there are steps you can take to ease your vacation stress.

Mixing Vacation with ADHD: An ADD Coaching Case Study


Lizzie came to her weekly ADD coaching call frazzled. Her family’s two-week vacation was fast approaching and getting ready to go had her on edge. She had a zillion things to do and was exhausted.

Packing overwhelmed her; they always took way too much stuff. And, she still hadn’t made arrangements for taking care of the pets and the house while they were away.

As Lizzie struggled to cope with all the organizing, details and decisions, she snapped at her family and grew frustrated with herself.

Plus, Lizzie was already dreading the unpacking and the piles of laundry she’d face when they got home. They’d be stepping over suitcases for weeks.

Returning to work would be a bear. She knew it would take days to get her brain back in gear despite a growing backlog of things to do.

No wonder Lizzie was stressed out. It all makes it pretty tough to enjoy a holiday, doesn’t it?

Here’s How I Coached Lizzie To Make Her Vacation More Manageable

First, I helped Lizzie become more aware of how mixing vacation with ADHD affected her.

We talked about how hard planning is for Lizzie and how much planning a vacation requires. She became aware of how overwhelmed she gets when extra tasks are added to her busy life and the many extra tasks vacations require.

This ADHD awareness was a huge step toward Lizzie accepting herself just the way she is. She began to see how much emotional effort she spent berating herself for her ADD.

Lizzie’s next step was to ask for help. Her husband knew vacations were stressful for Lizzie, but he didn’t understand why or what to do. So Lizzie asked him to play a bigger role in organizing the planning and preparation.

Together, they listed what needed to be done and divided the duties. They decided to get a house sitter to eliminate many of the details of closing down the house for two weeks.

Next, Lizzie agreed to make three more lists: a list of things to pack, a list of things to do when she got home, and a list of what to work on when she returned to the office.

Although Lizzie resisted making the lists, she understood they were essential to keeping her thinking clear and focused. Lists took the load of remembering details off her brain.

During the week before they were to leave, the family spent 15 minutes each day on trip preparation, using the lists as their roadmap. By the night before departure, most everything was ready. Best of all Lizzie was more relaxed and fun to be around.

Lizzie found this trip much easier than those in the past. When mixing vacation with ADHD did overwhelm her, she simply focused on her lists and was able to stay calm. That enabled her to be kinder to herself and accept the challenges of mixing the complexities of vacations with the realities of living with ADHD.



  1. My Love / Hate Relationship with ADHD and Travel - Dana Rayburn - [...] Mixing Vacation with ADHD: A Recipe for Stress [...]

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