The Overlooked Piece of Traveling With ADHD

by | Jun 19, 2012 | Organizing ADHD | 2 comments

Traveling With ADHD

In the last few weeks, we’ve covered planning and packing tips for travel when you have Attention Deficit. But there is one more, much overlooked, piece of traveling with ADHD.

If you have Adult Attention Deficit, getting home from a trip likely looks something like this…

You walk in the front door, drop your suitcase on the floor, and leave it there to step over for umm…six weeks? Six months? Until you need it again?

While we’re talking about unfinished business, how many times have you moved around that pile of unopened mail?

In my experience as an ADD coach and as an adult with ADHD, I’ve noticed that we consider arriving home “the end” of our trip.

But it isn’t “the end”. If you want to be organized with ADHD you need to realize there is more to getting home from a trip than walking in the front door.

There are those darn details we tend to overlook and forget about. Don’t undermine your hard work at being successful with attention deficit by forgetting to finish the project!

When you’re traveling with ADHD you need to expand your idea of when your trip is really done. Think: “What details need to be finished before I can relax?”

Do you need to…

▪    Unpack the suitcase and PUT IT AWAY?

▪    Open the mail and dispense with it?

▪    Pay the neighbor’s kid for watering your African violets?

▪    Unload the camper?

▪    Clean out the ice chest?

If you haven’t finished these important details, then your trip isn’t quite over yet.

As an adult ADD / ADHD coach, I often tease my clients who’ve returned from vacation, reminding them that their trip isn’t finished until all physical evidence of their travels gets organized and put away, and all those little loose ends are wrapped up.

By the way, if you’re that person who is still stepping over their suitcase from Spring Break, understand that I don’t believe you’re lazy.

With ADHD, you probably don’t even notice your suitcase anymore, you’re simply missing the bigger picture. Don’t worry, it used to happen to me, too.

That’s why, if you want to get organized with ADD / ADHD,  you need to create the habit of completely unpacking (and putting away) everything after a trip within a single day.

One easy way to recognize and remember to unpack right away is simply to plan for it.

Were your original plans to arrive home at 8:00 pm on a Sunday night? Remember, your trip isn’t over yet! You still have to unpack! Arriving home that late may also mean you’ll be too tired to put everything away.

Don’t go into Monday stressed out about needing to unpack. If you can, simply plan your homecoming for a couple of hours earlier instead. This way, you can go to bed with an instant feeling of peace and relaxation.

Remember this often overlooked piece of advice when traveling with ADHD: unpack as soon as you get home! This simple, final travel plan will make your last night of vacation truly relaxing. Isn’t that what vacation is all about anyway?


  1. tru

    I travel frequently for work, otherwise I work from home. This has allowed me to have some basic rules around packing that might help others out.

    1. Have duplicates that stay in the suitcase – this is mostly toiletries and grooming items like toothpaste and hair brushes. I even have a duplicate flat iron. The other side of this coin is to not pack what your hotel will provide for you. Like hair dryers. Most hotels have them now, so I never pack mine.

    2. I use “packing cubes” for packing. They don’t keep clothes the most wrinkle-free, but they do keep it so that I can find the stuff I’m looking for!

    3. Keep work clothes separate from home clothes – my work clothes are used mostly on the road; I keep them in a separate part of my closet so I can track them down easily when it’s time to pack at the last minute.

    4. Wash clothes before you go home – yep, take an evening to use the hotel laundry or find a “wash & fold” place. This lets you pack tidily to get home and makes unpacking a breeze. And it doesn’t take much time out of your time away, either. Plus it’s a great way to get away from the rest of your team if you’re an introvert and can’t stand one more team dinner.

    5. Unpack when you get home – I totally agree with you here. I find that unpacking reminds me to replentish toiletries and wash anything that didn’t get done before I came home, plus avoids heavy creases in the clean clothes.

    6. Keep all business items in a bag used specifically for travel – I have duplicate items here, too, like pens, cell phone charger, laptop power cord, notepads. I also keep all my travel-related reward cards and my corporate credit card in a small wallet in this bag along with my work ID card. This also lets me escape my home office quickly if I need to go to a meeting or just get out of the house to work at the coffee shop for a few hours. By not keeping the corporate card in my wallet, I also avoid the accidental charging of personal items to my corporate account.

    By doing the above, even if I “forget” to pack until the day of travel, it usually only takes about an hour to get it all together.

    • danarayburn

      Thank you, Tru. You’ve got some great ideas.

      When I can, I too like arriving back home with clean clothes. Avoiding those piles of dirty laundry is good for the soul!


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