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Traveling With ADHD

I’ve written before about how traveling is something that makes my brain happy, but that might be understating the case. Traveling is one of my great passions.

Think about it like this: traveling is all about novelty. When you travel, you see new places, have new experiences, and do even day-to-day things in new ways.

TravelingFor the ADHD brain, constantly on the lookout for stimulation and novelty, that’s a dream come true.

Because you’re always encountering situations you haven’t been in before, travel is spontaneous and unpredictable. Sometimes the best experiences are the ones you didn’t plan. This way of doing things can be a match made in heaven for people who are sometimes guilty of improvising their way through life.

Travel is a great equalizer between people with and without ADHD: things don’t tend to go according to plan when you travel anyway, so maybe it doesn’t matter if you’re not so good at making plans in the first place!

Of course, this is all true up to a point. If you’re going to pack a bag and head to the other side of the world with ADHD, you still want to take some precautionary steps to prevent your planning-related challenges from getting out of hand.

One that’s basic but that can’t be stressed enough is to check and double-check when your travel days are. I’ve had a few rude “wait, my flight is tomorrow?” awakenings, but admittedly those are nothing compared with the “wait my flight was yesterday?” scenario.

Another bit of obvious-but-not-obvious ADHD travel advice is to look both ways before you cross the street. Any time people with ADHD are involved in situations where traffic is involved, there’s the potential for a careless mistake to end very badly – hence the elevated rates of traffic accidents among people with ADHD. In foreign countries where the rules of the road are often different than what you’re used to, this risk is compounded. So if you’re going to get behind the wheel while traveling or even just walk somewhere where there’s traffic, best to go for a conservative approach.

Finally, there’s the problem people with ADHD sometimes have of losing things. Once again, this is a case where the problem is the same whether you’re at home or on the road, but the consequences can be more work to deal with if you’re in an unfamiliar place. So take precautions. For example, leave some money back in your room when you go out in case you lose your wallet.

The pattern you might notice is that the problems ADHD can cause when you’re traveling are the same ones it causes when you’re in a familiar place.

The main difference between traveling and not traveling when you have ADHD really comes down to the upsides of traveling, then. My experience is that taking off for a new place can be magical for the ADHD brain.

You might think travel would be distracting, but I often find I’m more productive when I’m traveling because exploring new places energizes me, gets me out of the rut of doing the same things every day, and puts my mind in a new space.

If you’re thinking of going on a trip with ADHD, there are basically two things to do. First, think about some of the ways your symptoms cause things to go awry in your life at home and put in place a system in case these things happen in a foreign country.

And second, travel in whatever way fits with your ADHD. If that means not overplanning and playing it by ear somewhat when you arrive at your destination, have fun. If it means planning things out in detail so you can minimize the effect your ADHD symptoms have on your trip, that’s fine too. Whatever works, go for it, and you might discover that your ADHD brain was built for exploring new places.

Image: Flickr/Kenneth Moore

Traveling With ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2016). Traveling With ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Oct 2016
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