Smells, sights, sounds, tastes OH MY! Stimulation overload is heaven for the ADD brain.
Healthy stimulation is the key to managing ADD, and travel is full of it. Bustling markets, wild boat rides, exciting new friends and unexpected experiences all stimulate the production of dopamine and reduce the symptoms of ADD. Yet traveling also includes numerous situations that will test the patience and organizational skills of those with ADD. Waiting in train stations, keeping up with documents and sitting still on airplanes are not ideal experiences for the ADD brain.
Knowing your weaknesses can be your greatest strength. Use these tips to create a better trip experience, and discover why travel is one of the best medications that exists for ADD.
1. Always have a trip planned. Even if it’s 12 months away, having a new adventure on your horizon will help with the day-to-day symptoms that you experience at home. Just thinking about your upcoming trip will give your brain a dose of healthy stimulation. Post up pictures to increase the benefits.
2. Get OCD with your travel plans. Overdo your travel organization, but have fun with it. Use colored paper and pens, glue together destination photos to create a trip collage, find Pinterest boards to inspire your imagination. Double-check all flight, tour and hotel reservations – or hire a travel agent who will do it for you.
3. Overestimate the time you need to pack. Double the number of hours that you think you will need. Packing lists are crucial for those with ADD. Type the next list up on your computer, and you will never have to create one again. Never wait to pack until the day before you leave; this allows time for last-minute shopping runs for random items you’ve forgotten.
4. Wear a watch. You probably don’t wear a watch in your everyday life and use your phone instead. But you may not want to whip out your brand new Galaxy phone in the middle of a mud village. You may still need to know the time, however, so buy a cheap watch just for travel.
5. Plan on losing something, and take precautions to help yourself when you do. Don’t just carry one copy of your itinerary – take two. Pack them in different places, and make sure there’s also a copy in your email inbox for electronic access. This also applies for other pertinent information: copies of your passport’s front page, emergency phone #s, reservations, flight ticket information etc.
6. Consider a money belt or neck wallet. Dorky, yes. But your spontaneous nature means that you might not always keep a solid eye on your bag or backpack. If you carry your money and passport underneath your clothes, you can get up and dance, skip to the other side of the park or wander around the restaurant without someone taking advantage of you.
7. Prepare to wait. Waiting isn’t fun for anyone – but it is absolute torture for those with ADD. Plan on plenty of waiting time during your travels – in airports, on planes, at bus stations, train depots etc. Bring an assortment of diversions to stimulate your brain: music and headphones (crucial), books and other reading material, candy/snacks, small games or puzzles, and a journal where you can write and draw.
8. Don’t overdose on downtime. Spending seven days sunbathing on a beach is a perfect vacation for some people, but not those with hyperactive ADD. Don’t feel bad if you want to recreate instead of relax – and choose your travel partners wisely.
9. Bring meds. Travel is usually so packed with stimulation, you probably won’t even need the Adderall or other medication you take at home. But bring it, just in case (along with a copy of the prescription). One situation that may necessitate meds is the flight home, which always seems more miserable than the outward voyage. The fun is over, the journey is done and now you just have to wait. Make it easy on yourself and take your meds.
10. Avoid the post-trip slump. People with ADD thrive on excitement and adventure. If you’ve just returned from a trip, those things are probably far away. Plan on a mini-adventure the month you return home from a big trip, even if it’s just a visit to a local attraction or dinner out with friends. Then decide on your next mega-adventure and put in on the calendar already!