In my last newsletter, I shared my “Super Duper Packing Tips for ADHD Travelers”, which was prompted by getting myself prepared for the upcoming ADDA conference.

Well, friends, my own advice blew up in my face. And I’m here to tell you all about it. Because if it happened to me, it can, will and probably has…happened to you.

Even with all the strategies I use to help tame my own ADD, it can still (and often does) backfire. After all, I’m only human. And so are you. And no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we understand about our ADD, it can still trip us up. Big time.

Though I started packing and planning for the conference 2 ½ weeks before I was to depart, and had started running lists of what to pack and what needed to be done before I left, I still made a real mess of things.

Here’s my story, which I shared with my attendees at my ADDA session:

  1. Though I picked out outfits weeks ahead of time, I needed to cull back on how much to pack. Did I really need 6 or 7 outfits for a 4-day event? I couldn’t figure it out! What blouse could I wear with another pair of slacks so that I could eliminate having to pack extra outfits? Which purse would work with all outfits? Which shoes? Try as I might, I couldn’t do it, partly because I can’t visualize things in my head (want proof? introduce yourself to me and ask me in 10 minutes how I met you- let alone what your name is).
  1. I didn’t take into account that I also had to get my younger daughter prepared for overnight camp. She had to be dropped off exactly one day before I had to leave for the airport. That meant, preparing two people for travel.
  1. As I knocked off one “to – do” item from my list, I added 10 more. Umm…I don’t know why there always seems to be more, not less work to be done with a strategy like that.
  1. I decided at the last minute to make a major tweak for my conference presentation. That was simply…dumb.

So what did I do?

The biggest help of all was asking my older daughter, Miss Logical Thinker, to help me figure out the outfits. It took her 2 ½ minutes to see that an entire outfit could be eliminated, along with a pair of shoes and a purse. This was magical thinking in my eyes, and I jokingly suggested she must be adopted. Actually, she is adopted, which made us both laugh, making this awful chore just a little less painful. She single handedly transformed my heap of fabric into logical, attractive outfits.

Once that was figured out, she cheerfully suggested we pack everything up while she was there to help. And I cheerfully agreed (secretly relieved beyond words to have her force me to get this part done).

So…I began to pack my stuff. That is, until she shrieked at me: “MOM, WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING??” I looked at her, surprised and truthfully, with my startle response, I jumped about 3 inches off the ground.

“NOW what am I doing wrong, Kate?”

“Mom! That is NOT how you pack a suitcase.”

It looked right to me! I folded things as best I could (a first clue that I was indeed doing it all wrong) before throwing, er…placing them in the suitcase. She grabbed my clothes away and began folding them neatly, in delicate 5-point patterns, more beautiful that a Sushi dinner set for 12 ambassadors. By the time she was done (40 seconds), my suitcase looked like a work of art.

Below is Kate packing and at the top, you can see the final product: my neatly arranged suitcase. I could frame this- not just because she’s my daughter, but because it could be used as a visual cue of how a suitcase should/could look. Like a template, of sorts.



So what’s my point? It doesn’t matter who you are or how great your planning strategies might be, your ADD will sometimes give you a big kick in the pants. And when it does, well, just call your daughter or son, spouse/partner or best friend, and have them lend you a hand.

What works for you when it’s time to pack for a trip? 

Share your ideas in the Comment section below.