7 Ways to Pack Light (With ADHD)

May 29th, 2017

A few years ago I decided to change how I packed for traveling. My goal was to always be able to carry everything I was bringing on the trip. I did a bunch of research into packing light and, even though a lot of what I found pertained to people going on serious global travel, much of what they recommended is applicable to the more local vacations I take.

IMPORTANT: If you are taking a plane or train, or crossing international borders, always err on the side of caution when it comes to medication, liquids, and any items with the potential to cause a security concern. It is always better to take up a bit more space to uphold all laws and guidelines.

Here are a few principles for packing lighter as someone with ADHD:

1. Eliminate “What if...?”

Any item you’ve put in your bag because of a statement beginning with “What if...” is very, very likely unnecessary. The fears that caused me to pile items into my luggage just in case almost never came true. The times they do, you can almost always deal with the issue.

2. “How can I cut this in half?”

Take half the Kleenexes out of the travel pack, store items in Ziploc bags instead of bottles, invest in travel size toiletries. A bunch of small amounts of weight and space adds up quick! To lighten your load or weigh you down.

3. Multi-purpose

Use exercise clothing as PJ's, windbreaker + heavy sweater = winter coat, and bring a wardrobe of a few items that all match. (Tightly roll all fabric to maximize space efficiency. Never wad, ball, or scrunch.) Also, wear your bulkiest items during travel to the destination.

4. Personalized packing list

Write yourself a personalized list of everything you need on a trip. If you regularly go on different types of trips (business, to and from university) write lists for the different types. This will allow you to pack very quickly, in complete confidence of remembering everything, and also provide a place to record items that occur to you later. Make sure to include every single thing you want to bring. Even “obvious” things like phone and wallet can slip our minds in the chaos of preparation!

5. “Day of” and “Leading up to” lists

Next level packing lists can be divided into everything you can pack leading up to the trip, and items you can only pack the morning of leaving. These might include a personal pillow or phone charger cables. In other words, things that would totally ruin a trip if you left them behind.

6. Think spaceless

Netflix’s downloadable content is entertainment that takes up no space. Games on smartphones are also in this category. Ebooks and audio books, as well as anything you can borrow at the location, will lighten your load.

7. List of untouched items

This one is my own invention. I record all the items I packed, but never used. It is an extra step, but it has proved over the years how unfounded my “What if...” fears are and how little I can and do use.

What lessens your anxiety while traveling?