Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your Best Summer Vacation Tips

Vacations are meant to be a time to relax and just get away from it all. But when your family is affected by ADHD, it’s hard to escape those ADHD-related complications that can mar your summer fun.

We know you want not only to survive your vacation, you hope to thrive. So we asked CHADD members—the real experts—to offer their five best tips. Here's what they learned from their not-so-perfect summer vacations. They did it so you don't have to!


•    Use your hyperfocus to research hotels and flights.
•    Use your upcoming vacation as a carrot (reward) to motivate you to tie up projects at work.
•    Ask someone else pack for you to make sure you’re packing appropriately.
•    Have your spouse or traveling companion review the itinerary.
•    Make lists and be sure to write down all flight and hotel information. 

John, Redwood City, California

•    Start planning and packing about a week in advance.
•    Use a permanent checklist of everything you need to do before you travel.
•    Identify activities, connect them with wardrobe.
•    Collect all items in one place.
•    Have a second complete set of items like toiletries packed and ready to go.

Donna, Pleasant Hill, California


•    Keep sleep patterns consistent.
•    Make travel plans to and from destination during the child’s best time of the day.
•    Be outdoors as much as possible—fresh air and sunshine are the best “medicine.”
•    Although kids with ADHD need structure, be willing to be a little more flexible during vacations than you are during the school year.
•    Don’t set your expectations too high. Be willing to give and take, and ENJOY!

Kate, Ooltewah, Tennessee

•    Bring toys, activities and food along with you in the car or on the plane.
•    Familiarity helps. Plan ahead and let your child know where you’re going. Also consider repeat visits to the same destination.
•    Get to your destination early and do something active, so your child is ready for bed at night.
•    Modify your own expectations to accommodate your child and his or her needs.
•    Expect the first night to be rough.

Bradford, Frankfort, Illinois

•    Start talking about the trip two months in advance, and say what has to be done.
•    Use a packing list with easy-to-read categories (shirts, pants, toiletries, etc.) and checklists.
•    Bring card games, handheld video games, books, or notebooks for downtime on the trip.
•    Be clear on rules to follow for each location.
•    Meet the friends and families of any new friends your child makes on the trip.

Pam, Minneapolis, Minnesota

•    Keep children entertained and out of trouble. We bought twin DVD players that can play separately or together. One child prefers movies, while the other prefers games.
•    Bag complete sets of clothes individually and give one bag to each child each day. We also pack spare clothes separately for unplanned emergencies. Pop-up laundry baskets can help keep the dirty clothes in one spot.
•    Never, ever leave home without copies of prescriptions and double-checking medications. The medication bag is on the packing list to double-check before we leave for a trip.
•    Schedule planned breaks during the car trips. If the kids are younger, then think about stopping at restaurants with playgrounds.
•    Kids with ADHD like interesting activities while parents like to relax and rest. It’s important to pick places, such as restaurants like Chuck-E-Cheese, where kids can have a safe and contained place to burn energy while parents relax.

Loretta, Charlotte, North Carolina

•    Pack brightly colored shirts so your child stands out and can be easily spotted.
•    Set limited physical boundaries as soon as you arrive at your destination; for example, "Stay in between this large rock and that tree. Do not go outside the box."
•    Use walkie-talkies to maintain constant contact.
•    Take advantage of your child's interests. For example, my son loves marine life, so we bought him a book on Caribbean fish. He spent hours finding fish he had seen during snorkeling trips.
•    Schedule regular quiet time each day so your child can refocus and keep from getting overstimulated.

Tabitha, Carterville, Illinois

•    Let children and teens pack what they want to bring, including their favorite things that make them feel at home.
•    Allow them to partake in deciding each day's activity. 
•    Listen to them when they are tired, and be aware of their body language telling you they've had enough for the day.
•    Count down the days with them so they know how many days of vacation are left.
•    Reassure them they'll be home soon and back to the familiar surroundings and routines.
•    Take children to familiar places while you're away, such as McDonald's, Target, or WalMart.
Nancy, Upper Pittsgrove, NJ

An earlier version of this post appeared in Attention magazine. Join CHADD and receive every issue!
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