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3 Vacation Packing Tips for People With ADHD

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Packing for vacation can be such a hectic time because you’re having to prepare to leave your home for however long while making sure your current day-to-day orders are in place. For a neurotypical, that can be a lot to handle. For someone with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) though?

It can be straight hell.

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I’ve learned that life with ADHD can be easier when you lean into your ADHD traits versus trying to push them away. Thus, here are three ADHD travel packing hacks.

1. Use the ADHD clutter box to your advantage (Part I)

Two weeks out from your vacation, put a small container or box in your bedroom and bathroom. When you encounter something that you’re not going to use super often but you will need on vacation, throw it in the box. This also goes for things you buy prior to your trip. Straight in the box. 

This is good because it’s a little-by-little technique that plays to the strengths of what can be an impulsive brain. Also because you’re doing it at random, you’re less likely to forget it when you’re thinking of everything else at once. Out of sight, out of mind, and for once that’s a good thing!

2. Use the ADHD clutter box to your advantage (Part II)

Before I go into this, I admit this is a twist on making a list. Sometimes we do need lists, OK? However, this still plays to our strengths more than using a planner or some other convoluted system. 

OK, now get another container. Put it in an area that you will see every single day. I like putting it on my countertop. Whenever you remember something that you have to do, especially something you have to buy, write it down and throw it in the box. Eventually, when you’re in that “I have to do everything right now!” frame of mind, you have literally everything you have to do right now, in one space. Also because you wrote them on individual slips of paper, you won’t get overwhelmed at looking at a list of 50 different things you have to do. Just 50 little scraps of paper, but at least they’re segmented, right?

3. Do the fun stuff first, and push everything else off to the last minute and invite a friend over to help you through the rest

Look, I did say play to your strengths, right? 

Fun stuff first! Shopping (that’s fun for me), primping, booking the fun stuff you’re going to do while away are all included.

I work best under pressure, meaning that sometimes I have to put myself in high-pressure situations to get things done. The good news is that a lot will already be done because the  “fun” tasks are still tasks. 

Now that you have all the remaining tasks, an accountability buddy (read: a friend who will keep you on task, not help you procrastinate) can help motivate you to finish everything else out. Since we did wait until the last minute, it may be close to impossible to finish everything ourselves. That’s why enlisting some help as both an accountability partner and an extra set of hands is imperative. 

There are smart ways to procrastinate. This is one of them.

Maybe it’s because I’m unmedicated, but the best way for me to get things done in any scenario is to play to my ADHD strengths and even warp situations so I can do so. That’s why these tips are constructed the way they are, so you’re not working against the mental grain. 

When thinking of your own packing habits, try it. Work with your brain, versus against it.

Something tells me you won’t regret it. Or you may. Only time will tell.


Getty image by Adene Sanchez

Originally published: June 5, 2022
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