Smart Girls with ADHD

ADHD isn't one-size-fits-all

Packing with ADHD: The Smart(phone) Way

Guest BlogsKerri MacKay1 Comment

It’s easy to say that I’m often happiest living out of some sort of bag. I’ve written on my blog that I am happiest in movement, in flight, in some degree of chaos—traits probably true of many with ADHD.

I do weekend trips to the cabin from May through early October without much thought to packing—my asthma (and ADHD!) meds, some clothes, pens and notebooks, iPad and colouring books, the usual stuff. I do that all without much thought, throwing everything into a duffel bag or hiking backpack in a matter of minutes. It’s practically habit.


However, more than an hour or two from home—when planes or long car rides (oh come on, admit it, anything over about 3 hours is long for someone with ADHD!) are involved, I have to get a bit more methodical.

Meet my good friend that lives in my phone, triplist (at the time of writing, their website is down)—if you’re a traveler and an iOS or Android user, and have ADHD especially, it might be time to invite triplist on your travels.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I’ve used Triplist since 2014, when I went on a 12 day journey from my hometown of Winnipeg (Canada), down to Minneapolis by car with my cousin, aunt, and grandma to send off said cousin to begin engineering school at University of Minnesota. A few days later, I flew from MSP to SFO (San Francisco) on a less than $200 flight (and the dollar was at par!), spent a few days in the East Bay with one of my best friends, and then another four days as an ePatient Scholar at the Stanford Medicine X conference. Twelve days of travel, and I didn’t have to waste any time trying to buy a new brush (Toronto, April 2015’s forgotten item) or find unscented deodorant in an expensive high class mall (Chicago, April 2010’s forgotten item). Triplist didn’t accompany me on the April 2015 trip to coach my province’s goalball team, so the athletes I coach (at the time, all my guys were totally blind), where the boys kept telling me my hair looked fine… Oh, and by the way, I found the forgotten deodorant from Chicago in my laundry hamper (on suggestion of a friend to check there... Ah, even pre-ADHD diagnosis my friends knew me so well!)

Triplist isn’t just for travel, but we’ll pretend for now it is. Your adventure choices are: leisure, business, camping, cruise, conference, holiday, road trip, vacation, sporting event, weekend escape, or shopping. (I know, I want—and sometimes need—to choose multiple sometimes, too! Not an option). Then, enter your destination city and get rolling…

Creating the List

This is where this app SHINES for those of us with ADHD. Because unlike making a packing list on paper, it’s super easy to select what—and only what—you need.

I find Triplist helps me from over-packing (though I’m still not sure how I made it to Quebec City in August 2012 carrying one normal backpack for a 30 hour whirlwind adventure requiring both casual and business-casual-ish attire… and without the app!). I’ve also since mostly ditched the suitcase, even for air travel, and travel with either a 65 L (+22 L daypack) hiking pack for longer trips (or those requiring I carry a goalball!), or a 45 L hiking backpack for those fewer than 5 days (protip: zip in or secure the straps, and pull the rain cover over to make it easy to check at the airport—like the time I intended it to be carry on but a friend gifted me several bottles of Pineapple Fanta and bubble wrap!)

Simply click the categories, select your items, and if you’re the type (I am not) adjust the quantities. It moves items that you’ve checked off into a “Checked Items” section. Which means you may be less tempted to pack 7 t-shirts instead of 4 (look, I like to have options okay? But Triplist makes me reign that in a bit and forces me to pause and remember look, you may probably will buy a t-shirt, stop that nonsense).

With everything broken down in nice little categories, I find it also sparks me to think of things that aren’t included in the default app. These items can be added to your catalogue for future trips, too. (For instance, so I can separate each and every power cord I will need to ensure I can CHARGE ALL THE THINGS! while away).

Checking It Off: My One Triplist Rule

I have one rule I hold myself to when I am packing using Triplist: nothing (and I mean nothing) gets a check mark until it is IN THE BAG I will be traveling with. It doesn’t matter if it’s sitting on the bed beside my bag, or on the bathroom counter to be packed in the morning like my toothbrush—if it’s not in the bag, it doesn’t get the check mark. This goes for everything from the most important items, to things as minimal as a pen and a pencil, if those two items are on the list, or a bottle of juice (why’s that in Family, anyways? Grown-ups drink juice!)

And, in the end… there is something really satisfying about seeing a 100% completed list, which always makes me feel like a ninja.


Really. Ninjas would probably lose their cred for even asking if they forgot something.

I’d bet ninjas with ADHD probably use Triplist—since it’s probably a lot worse to forget your brush or your deodorant if you’re a ninja. 

About the Author

Kerri was diagnosed with ADHD and learning issues at 21. A year later, she completed her Bachelor of Physical and Health Education degree, though most of her time is spent writing. 

Learn more about Kerri on Twitter, @KerriYWG, or by visiting