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Travelling with a busy brain: how to keep calm & enjoy your holidays!

POV: you’re eagerly peeking through the tiny plane window, hovering over what looks like the tiniest city in the world. “Welcome to [your dream destination]...” comes over the tannoy. Is there any better feeling than this?

Holiday season is something most of us daydream about - and, finally, it’s almost here! However, for those of us with busy brains, travelling can be very challenging. You might experience overstimulation, meltdowns, sensory overload or anything in between.

But getting to your relaxing holiday shouldn’t be conditional on going through hell to get there. A few simple bits of planning and scheduling - with the help of our lovely friends at Tiimo - can make all the difference! Here are 5 of our favourite travel tips to make your journey as comfortable as possible:

Packing and organisation

Create a list of EVERYTHING you’ll need for the trip (break it down into sections if this helps - e.g. clothes, documents, toiletries etc). Now, repeat after us: I 👏 will 👏 pack 👏 BEFORE 👏 the 👏 last 👏 minute 👏.

Schedule a nice chunk of time into your Tiimo calendar at least a week before you’re setting off, and then another block the day before you leave for any last-minute bits - and as you’re packing, check off the items on your list.

When you’re deciding what to pack, remember comfort items. Bring some of your favourite things - clothes, books, stim/fidget toys, a weighted blanket, etc - to help you feel comfortable, more relaxed and grounded during your trip.

Avoid any airport panic where you’re rifling through bags thinking, “sh*t, did I forget my passport?”. Put ALL important documentation (passports, flight/booking confirmation, insurance, hotel/car rental information) in a folder/plastic wallet in your CARRY-ON bag.

Opt for extra/automated services

There are services to make your life easier when travelling that can be very helpful for neurodivergent minds. Such as self-service check-in desks, check-in online (or on the app), self-service bag drop, fast track/priority boarding for shorter queueing time, and airline lounge/VIP lounge. Unfortunately, some of these cost extra (price depending on the airline). However, if you can afford to, they can significantly reduce any travel-day drama.

If you’re in the UK, your Sunflower Lanyard usually allows you to use the Assistance/Priority Lane through security and passport control - which can really help those of us who struggle to wait in long queues!

Use technology to your advantage

We live in a world full of technology - which you can use to your advantage when navigating unfamiliar or stressful environments like airports or train stations. Use noise-cancelling headphones to reduce that overwhelming noise, download a travel app for directions and recommendations, and set reminders on your phone to manage your schedule.

Pop reminders in your Tiimo calendar for when you need to set off for each part of your journey, and add in a couple of interoception check-ins so that you can make sure you’re not getting too overwhelmed.

Friendly reminder: make sure all of your tech is fully charged before you set off and that you’ve packed any necessary chargers/portable chargers - you can remind yourself to put everything on charge the night before by adding a reminder to Tiimo!

Bring snacks and food

Travelling is hungry work! Before you know it, you’re exhausted and hungry; desperately trying to find somewhere that sells “safe” food. Pack snacks to keep you going and avoid any nasty surprises on the day. This will prepare you for situations like closed restaurants, your go-to menu items being unavailable or even delays that don’t leave you enough time to buy something. P.S. Remember to think about what food/snacks will travel well in a bag all day to avoid unwanted smells!

Make sure to schedule reminders in Tiimo to eat at regular intervals throughout the day - with a change in your routine and all of that extra stimulation, your body might not be quite as good as usual at reminding you when it needs to be fed.

Communicate your needs

Don’t be afraid to speak up! You’re entitled to reasonable accommodations, wherever the travel company can make them. Contact them before booking to find out what options are available, and if you’re travelling with someone, let them know what you might struggle with or are feeling nervous about. That way, you can put a plan in place for if you’re in these triggering situations and need extra support.

Alternatively, if you’re travelling alone, can you ask someone to look out for any texts/calls from you in case you need support throughout the journey? A little reassurance from a friend or loved one can go a long way in these stressful environments - you could even schedule a reminder to text a friend or family member every couple of hours to let them know how you’re getting on.


Now, don’t get us wrong, you could be the Queen/King of Travel. Every busy brain is unique, so what works for one member of the community won’t always work for others. Make sure you’re putting things in place that you think will best help YOU - and feel free to experiment with different methods!

Ultimately, remember to prioritise your needs and comfort during the trip - and take as many things off your plate as possible by leaving yourself reminders ahead of time!

Want to give scheduling with Tiimo a go? They’re our very favourite visual scheduling and life-planning app! Tiimo is designed by neurodivergent people, for neurodivergent people - so they *really* understand just how to best support busy brains like ours 💖

They’re kindly giving you 2 months of free premium access - to claim, download the app and use code UNMASKED.

To redeem code:

⭐️ iOS: Open app ➡️ Go to the "Me" tab ➡️ Click "redeem code"

⭐️ Android: From the paywall, click on "subscribe" ➡️ Click on "payment methods" ➡️ Click on "redeem code"

Oh, and one last thing - don’t forget to enjoy your holiday once you’ve made it to the other side! Happy travels!

1 Comment

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Apr 20, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great tips!

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