Planning a vacation this summer? Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing, right? But, that doesn’t always happen. In fact, half of Americans polled about vacations said that they felt more fatigued after a vacation than before the trip!
If you or a family member have ADHD, you’re not alone in both enjoying certain aspects of vacations and experiencing others as stressful.
A few particularly challenging aspects of vacations include:
Transitioning back to home and work
Vacationing with kids
If any of these aspects of vacationing pose challenges for you, consider the following suggestions.
Keep a file of vacation ideas. You might want to include articles, notes about suggestions from friends or colleagues, pictures, websites and other sources of inspiration or information.
- Consider your budget in advance so you don’t have regrets later.
- Once you’ve settled on an idea for an upcoming trip, start a new file just for that trip. You can include activity or itinerary ideas, articles, hotel reservations, flight info or maps and driving directions, tickets, a packing list and so on.
- Recognize that planning takes time, so in advance of your trip, block out adequate time to plan, purchase tickets if needed, and get organized!
ADHD Coach Jennifer Koretsky offers several additional tips to adults with ADHD for planning ahead to insure a good time on vacation:
- Have Some Structure, But Not Too Much Figure out in advance, what your goals are for the vacation as a whole and generally what you want to accomplish each day, but avoid over-planning and establishing a strict schedule
- Relax. Don’t Overdo It. Remember, as much as a vacation can be a time to explore new things, it is also a time to recharge your batteries. So make sure you leave plenty of time to relax.
- Prepare For Boredom. No matter how much or how little you plan ahead, recognize that boredom comes with the ADHD territory. So make sure that you plan for that by bringing along an engaging book, your favorite music, and/or (electronic) games.
Find packing to be a hassle? Consider these tips to make packing easier:
- Simplify packing by using a list. Here’s a printable “basic vacation essentials packing checklist” from Real Simple. And another downloadable “packing checklist” from TravelSmith.
- Add to the list anything you’ll need for your particular vacation destination (Passport? Beach towels? Hiking boots?). Don’t forget maps or tickets!
- Consider storing a packing list on your computer – maybe you’ll even want to save some variations: a beach list, a road-trip list, a “visit the relatives” list, a “travel for work” list.
- What about storing your basic travel items in a suitcase between trips to further simplify packing?
- Start gathering items on your list several days before you need to finish packing. Gather items in an open suitcase or, as friends of mine do, on a spare bed or the dining room table.
Transitioning Back to Home or Work
No one has an easy time returning to home or work after a vacation! It’s also true that transitions can be particularly challenging for individuals with ADHD. If the post-vacation transition is tough for you, consider these tips:
- Before leaving for a vacation, make a plan for what you will eat when you get home. Leave something in the cabinet or freezer, or plan to order-in. Or consider how a neighbor I once had would handle this situation: hire a teen to go to the grocery store and put a steak, potatoes, and salad fixings in the fridge for the day they planned to arrive home!
- Plan in transition time. Before arriving home, plan times to do the following post-trip activities: unpacking, laundry, and grocery shopping.
- It’s tempting to return from a trip at the last minute so as not to lose any “vacation” time. But, that can also lead to feeling pressed. Instead, consider giving yourself a day at home before returning to work so you can “recover” from the trip, take care of unpacking and laundry, and have a bit of time to get organized for the work-week ahead.
Traveling with kids? Tips and resources for planning and enjoying a family vacation will be addressed in my next blog post.