ADHD Friendly Ways to pack for a trip

Overstuffed Stuffed Suitcase

Do you have a trip planned sometime soon? Travel can often be very stressful for someone with ADHD. There are a lot of new things to remember outside our normal routines. If you’re anything like me, the stressful thing about packing is that it’s one of those open-ended tasks that relies heavily on me remembering things.

At best, that can be a source of huge stress for ADHDers and at worst can be a recipe for disaster. – Gotcha there – remember the ADHD Weekly Podcast episode Words Matter? Actually the chances of disaster are relatively small from packing mishaps. When we use language like Disaster, we create a monster in our minds that adds to the stress. I do recall the time I went on a long trip and left “the hanging clothes” on the bed at home. I ended up having to buy a shirt and borrow a tie. (and ultimately did not die:-)

But I digress. Open-tasks are a challenge for me in general. The trick is to turn them in to LOT’s (less open-ended tasks). More on that in a future post.

One of the best techniques to create a LOT out of an open-ended task is to use a checklist. This works particularly well for packing for three reasons:

  • There are many constants in what you are going to pack for any trip.
  • Many of items that are packed can be multiplied by the number of days of the trip to determine the quantity that you need to take.
  • The trips themselves can be divided into categories which create even more constants among the items you’ll be taking.

Here are the steps for developing a stress-free packing process:

1. Plan ahead and determine the type of trip.

If you take the time to think about where you’re going and what type of events you’ll be attending, and what type of trip it will be, it makes the packing process that much easier. Usually there are some major buckets that would be standard for a lot of people.

  • Vacations
  • Business Trips
  • Trips to visit family

If the trip is primarily a vacation or a trip for pleasure or leisure you might have a completely different packing process than if you are going away on a business trip. It’s also helpful to think about what type of activities you’ll be involved in. If you’re going to travel for a wedding then you’ll need to have formal clothes and maybe more than one set. If you’re going to the beach you’ll need to make sure you take your swimsuit. And if you’re going a business trip you’ll need to take the appropriate clothes.

2. Make a list of items that you will always need to take on a trip:

Here is where we start to create the checklist. The first thing to do is create a list of the items you’ll always need to take. We start with this because then we can copy and paste the items of this checklist to begin creating the checklists for each of our main types of travel.

I always start with toiletries because they are classic items that you’ll always need and are a real irritant if you forget them. So many people forget these items that a lot of hotels make a generic version available from the front desk.

  • ADHD Meds and any other medications
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deoderant
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair Product
  • Shaving Cream
  • Razor
  • Makeup (you can add specific items to the list)
  • Workout Gear? (add specific items)

If you travel frequently, you might consider creating a separate set of toiletry items stored in your travel bag and even a separate set of workout gear. I’ve done this with my toiletries and it makes it a lot easier to be ready to roll quickly.

Then add the standard items that you’ll always need but depend on the number of days you’ll be on the road.

  • Underwear x _ Days
  • Socks x _ Days

3. The final step is to copy these items into a separate checklist for each category of travel and add the rest of the items you’ll want to be sure to take.

Business Trips

  • Dress Pants x __ Days
  • Dress Shirts x __ Days

Vacation Trips

  • Jeans
  • Shirts
  • Shorts

List Makers

Some of the applications I’ve seen so far that do a decent job of creating lists that are usable and allow for duplicating the lists are:

I hope this post makes your packing efforts easier and less stressful. Now it’s your turn – If you have any great packing tips, share them with us in the comments section.