Luggage with hat near hotel bed.

ADHD and Why Don’t I Leave My Hotel Room?

Have you ever booked a vacation and felt super excited about it, yet when you arrived at your destination, you found you couldn’t seem to leave your hotel room?

Some people with ADHD love to travel.

The adventure, novelty, and opportunity to explore new places and meet new people energize them. These individuals are truly in their element when they travel.

On the other hand, some ADHDers are homebodies.

They find comfort and joy in being at home, surrounded by creature comforts. Traveling simply doesn’t hold the same appeal for them, so they choose to honor that preference and stay home.

Then, there’s a third group of ADHDers. This group wants to explore the world, but they encounter a puzzling challenge when they reach their destination—they have a difficult time leaving the hotel room.

If this resonates with you, keep reading because this article is for you!

You might have discovered that instead of visiting historical sites or taking leisurely walks as you envisioned, you spend most of your trip inside your hotel room.

As a result, you might experience guilt, self-criticism, or disappointment.
We don’t want you to feel bad about yourself!

So, here are five reasons why you might find yourself staying in your hotel room during your holiday and six practical suggestions to help you enjoy your trip more.

(While I use the term “hotel room” here, it could be any holiday accommodation, such as a cabin in the woods, a cozy rental cottage, or an Airbnb)

5 Reasons Why ADHDers Stay in Their Hotel Room

1. Overstimulation.

Traveling is a stimulating experience, with airports, long drives, new environments, and crowds. All the stimulation can feel overwhelming, and your hotel room feels like a safe sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle

2. Perfectionism.

You might not consider yourself a perfectionist, but lots of ADHDers are, and the desire for perfection can sneak into all areas of life, including vacations.
For example, it might show up when trying to find the perfect spot for lunch, planning the ideal way to explore a new city, or worrying about getting lost while navigating unfamiliar surroundings.

3. Planning and Organizing.

Planning activities and navigating unfamiliar places can be challenging for individuals with ADHD. Going on a trip requires a lot of planning, including how to get to your destination and what to do once you’ve arrived.
It’s possible that you spent all your planning energy reaching your vacation destination and didn’t get a chance to plan what to do once you arrived, making it feel easier to stay in your room rather than venture out.

4. Decision making.

Decision-making is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to many people with ADHD.
When you’re at home, you have habits and routines that reduce the number of decisions you need to make.

However, when you’re on holiday, you have to make many decisions just to cover the basics, such as what to wear in new weather and location, where to eat breakfast, and what to choose from the menu—and it isn’t even 10 am yet!
So, making additional decisions about where to go and what to see can feel overwhelming.

5. Motivation.

Feeling motivated involves wanting to do something, but it also requires initiation and follow-through. All of these can be challenging when you have ADHD.
When it comes to leaving your hotel room, it can be tough to feel motivated if you’re unsure what to do (related to planning and decision-making), dismissing ideas due to perfectionism,
or feeling overstimulated.

However, there are ADHD-friendly strategies to address these challenges (keep reading).
Understanding why these situations have been challenging in the past can be helpful.

OK! Now that you know that wanting to stay in your hotel is ‘a thing’ and the most common reasons for this, here are eight practical suggestions to help you get out and enjoy your trip.

8 Practical Tips to Leave your Hotel Room the ADHD-Friendly Way!

1. Have a Transition Day.

Designate the first day of your trip as a transition day!

This allows you to rest and recalibrate after all the stimulation and stress of traveling. Plus, it removes any guilt or internal pressure you might feel to immediately jump into ‘holiday mode’ and start doing things right away. 

You can stay in your hotel room all day if you want to, guilt-free! Or if you feel inspired, you could venture out to explore local amenities, such as the nearest coffee shop and restaurants, but with zero pressure to do anything!

2. Create a home from home.

Your hotel room will be your home for at least a few days, so set it up in a way that feels familiar and helps you feel organized.

.For example If you usually charge your phone overnight on your bedside cabinet, unpack your phone charger and plug it in by your bed in the hotel room. If you keep your vitamins and meds by the coffee maker in your kitchen for a visual reminder, place them by the coffee maker in the hotel room.

These might seem little things, but they all add up to help you create a secure base, making it easier to head out and explore. 

3. Bring a Few Creature Comforts With You.

What helps you to feel your best?

I love drinking tea, so I bring a lightweight kettle with me because hotels in the US and Canada don’t have kettles in the room like they do in Europe.

I also pack my favorite tea bags (English Breakfast and Mint tea) and a big mug.

It takes up space in my suitcase, but it’s worth it.

The first time I traveled with a friend, she laughed so hard when she saw my kettle. But once she realized how practical it was, she got one too!

4. Create a Daily Structure.

Create a framework for your days. ADHDers thrive with structure, so having a loose framework can help give your day direction and avoid overwhelm.

An example of a holiday routine might be:

  • Wake up
  • Enjoy breakfast at a local café or your accommodation
  • Spend the morning exploring one of the attractions, such as museums, parks, or historic sites
  • Have lunch at a local restaurant or have a picnic
  • Relax in the afternoon, perhaps in your hotel room, by the pool, or in a park
  • Eat your evening meal at a restaurant
  • Head back to your hotel room to unwind or check out a concert or cultural event
  • Bedtime

5. Personalize Your Holiday.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy captured at night.

The Colosseum, Rome

Let go of any ‘shoulds’ you have. For example, if you go to Rome, you don’t have to visit the Basilica or the Colosseum. If these landmarks excite you, then, of course, go and enjoy every minute.

However, if some of the key landmarks feel more like ‘shoulds’ than things you really want to do, you may not feel motivated to leave your room. Instead, experience your holiday destination in ways that are fun and meaningful to you.

For instance, if you like cooking, consider taking a cookery class. If you enjoy running, like me, go for a run every day and explore different routes. If you like painting, bring your painting supplies and paint the iconic landmarks.

6. One Main Activity a Day.

Close up shot of Paris' love locks on the bridge with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Planning one activity a day can help you balance sightseeing with relaxation and removes any holiday guilt. 

The first time I visited Paris, I was 20 years old., I felt torn between seeing the classic Parisian sights like the Mona Lisa and climbing the Eiffel Tower and simply relaxing in the sunshine eating a croissant. 

So, I created a personal rule that still serves me well today: one ‘sight’ per day. 

This could be visiting a museum, exploring a historical landmark, or any other significant activity. 

The rest of the day you can ‘play it by ear’ relax and do other enjoyable things, like people-watching or reading a book. 

You could create your own version of this rule to make the most of your travels.

7. External Accountability.

There’s nothing like having a scheduled activity with another person to motivate you to leave your hotel room. 

This is where group guided tours come in handy!

When you book a tour, you can check something off your wish list, deepen the experience by being guided by a local expert, and feel confident that you’ll leave your room to see something important to you. It’s a win, win, win.

I have used the company Viator a few times and always had a good experience. 

A tip: if you book a tour that takes 2 to 4 hours, you’ll have a balance of scheduled time for tourist activities and the rest of the day left unstructured for relaxing downtime. 

This approach is similar to the semi-structured weekend I write about here

However, some tours are day tours, so if you book one of these, avoid scheduling another full-day tour the following day that way you prevent feeling overscheduled.

In conclusion, the goal of your holiday is to experience your destination in a way that is meaningful and enjoyable to you. By creating a balanced itinerary and incorporating familiar comforts and structure, it will feel easier to venture out of your hotel room and make new memories. 

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