Tips for travellers with ADHD

Travel can be thrilling, but also challenging for adults with ADHD — a neurological condition marked by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The planning, organization and research it takes to book accommodation and flights, pack and more can be overwhelming. If you’re packing for yourself and littles, remembering the details is even more challenging. And remaining in airplane seats, or a car for long periods can cause agitation. 

But these hurdles shouldn’t prevent you from travelling if you have ADHD — you just need a game plan. Here’s some tips for managing ADHD symptoms on your trip and other tips for travelling with ADHD. 

You’ve got this.  

Guided tours can reduce stress for people with ADHD, who may become frustrated by the attention to detail required to plan a vacation. Guided tours allow you to just show up while the hard part is handled by your tour company. You can also better customize your vacation by hiring a private tour guide.  

If you don’t want too much structured time and want to have a hand in the planning, do some research on travel apps that can make the process easier. “ Apps like Asana, Trello or Google Keep can be great for creating packing lists or setting reminders for important tasks,” writes the staff of Done., a therapeutic help site for people with ADHD. Remember to plan downtime in your travel schedule so you don’t burn out. It’s better to fully enjoy a few places, instead of becoming overwhelmed rushing about.  

Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance. You should know that your Canadian government health insurance may not fully protect you if venture outside of your home province. Travel insurance by Allianz Global Assistance may help fill coverage gaps in case you experience a medical or dental emergency while travelling. We also offer trip cancellation benefits, which reimburse non-refundable expenses if your trip is cancelled for covered reasons.  

Write, or type (whichever works best for you) a list of what you need to pack. Keep this list as a template for all trips and amend as needed. This works best if you start the list well before you start packing. And don’t wait until the night before, or heaven forbid the morning of to start packing! (Trust me, I’ve done this and it’s panic inducing.) You want to feel relaxed and not stressed about potentially forgetting something.  

And give yourself grace, writes William Curb on the Hacking your ADHD blog, “We’re probably still going to forget things when we’re travelling. It’s just bound to happen, but we can use those times as learning lessons and just add whatever we forgot to our packing list template so that next time we’ll know to bring it with us.” 

Curb adds that a packing list can also be helpful for people who tend to over pack for trips. “Just make a note in your packing template that you realized you realized that you didn’t use something for your trip,” Curb Writes. “I wouldn’t straight delete it from the list but at least put an asterisk next to it so that [you] know [you] should think twice before packing it next time.” 

Plane travel can be frustrating for someone who struggles with hyperactivity. A car trip may be optimal because you can stop, stretch your legs and take things at your own pace. Train travel tends to offer more space than a car or plane, and taking in the scenery can relax a busy mind. A cruise could also be ideal because of its balance of structured activities and unplanned free time.  

Consider making copies of your travel documents. Take a copy with you on your trip and leave the other with a friend or family member at home. You may find it useful to keep your documents on your phone. Evernote is a great resource to keep documents such as hotel and car reservations in one place, Curb advises. “You can also keep your boarding passes on your phone with Wallet on iOS and Passes on Android,” Curb adds. 

Be sure you have enough medication to last your entire trip or plan to refill your prescription well before your trip. Pack your medication in your carry on; checked luggage is often lost or delayed. Keep in mind that stimulants taken to manage ADHD symptoms are controlled substances. In some destinations, you could be charged with possession of a controlled substance if your medication is not in its original prescription bottle, labeled with your name. 

Stay hydrated and don’t let yourself get hungry. “Hunger or dehydration can intensify ADHD symptoms” writes the Done. team. “Having a bottle of water and some healthy snacks on hand can help keep your energy levels stable and your mind focused.”

Exercise can help you manage ADHD symptoms, so be sure to work it into your travel plans. Who doesn’t love strolling through an exciting new city? Take steps to manage your sleep. If noise keeps you awake at night or you find it distracting during down time, invest in noise cancelling headphones. Ask for a tucked away hotel room away from elevators, ice machines, the hotel bar and other noisy areas.  

Get a quote today to find out how we can make your next trip stress free.  

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Travel insurance is underwritten by CUMIS General Insurance Company, a member of The Co-operators Group of Companies, administered by Allianz Global Assistance, which is a registered business name of AZGA Service Canada Inc.

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