ADHD Hyperfixation: The Creative Secret to my Amazing Vacations

My greatest talent might be planning memorable vacations. Could it be that my ADHD mind sets me up for success?

Last year, while chatting with a close friend, I mentioned that I had picked up a new hobby. She joked ‘Well, you will probably research this obsessively like everything else!’.

We had a bit of a laugh over how passionate I’ve been for various things over the years and how much I can get absorbed by whatever interests me at the moment.

Soon after this, I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and learned that I have had a VAST (Variable Attention Stimulus Trait) personality my whole life.

What my friend was describing a specific feature of those who share VAST minds, hyperfixation. In this post I’ll describe how I used hyperfixation, the ‘ADHD Superpower’ to plan amazing vacations.

What is hyperfixation?

Hyperfixation or hyperfocusing is when someone is intensely focused on a topic, getting so absorbed that they lose track of time. Hyperfixation is often called the ‘ADHD Superpower’ but if not controlled it can also have similar negative life effects as an addiction.

Check out my more thorough post about Hyperfixation: Superpower or Curse?

And my views on how researchers have defined Hyperfixation. (Hint: I’m not impressed).

As my girlfriend pointed out, this is something I have done for years. I get really excited or interested in a topic and …. I am off to the races! I am very passionate and delve right into the research.

Using Hyperfixation to Plan Great Vacations.

I realized that I have used hyperfixation for years to plan really great vacations. I think this has been one of my most successful uses of my VAST mind, a mind that loves excitement and a purpose.

I can plan a trip way ahead of time but I prefer planning a last minute trip, sometimes with just a week to plan. I love the thrill of researching and planning closer to the trip.

When I finally choose the ideal last minute combination, it is so satisfying. It’s like solving the ultimate puzzle.  Although these tactics can lead to unexpected results.

One time my husband was surprised to find out where we were going the night before the trip, as we were packing. I had been talking about 3 options and he thought I had settled on a different one! 

But he was totally fine with it, because he has learned that my planning leads to great trips.

Organizing my vacation hyperfixation research

Our first big trip together was a few days in NYC.  He actually hadn’t traveled that much before dating me so while he was excited to go to NYC, he also was a bit nervous

He felt reassured that I had been there before and that I knew the ‘lay of the land’. 

Little did he know how much I prepare. I even had my very own NYC travel journal to help us get around.

I put my research (all the hidden gems from my in-depth research) into little portable journals. For the cities that I return to, like New York City. I keep my notes in City Notebooks by Moleskin. 

Basically they are a blank journal with city maps and sections perfectly set up so you make your own travel guide. They don’t look like a travel guide so you can discretely refer to without it being super obvious that you are tourist.

Trip planning success

So back to that NYC trip, and a moment that he has never forgotten.

We had gone to some of the more touristy sites, and he was getting more relaxed on the trip and trusted that I knew where we were going

I think it was the third day of the trip, and after a little shopping I decided to lead us over to a restaurant nearby for lunch.

A friend had told me about it and that we ‘had to go to’ as it was her favourite NYC restaurant

Naturally I researched it and added the information in my journal. So I knew exactly where to go.

As we were walking toward the restaurant we passed an interesting museum and then the next block was a little more rundown. I just kept walking, chatting away and not too concerned, it was all just typical of NYC to me. 

I didn’t realize that my boyfriend was getting worried.  I led us around the corner and then I started walking into an alley.

The moment of truth: Does he trust my research?

A few steps in I realized he wasn’t following.

I looked back at him and he exclaimed: ‘I’m not going down that alleyway! This isn’t a safe part of town, didn’t you see those guys we just passed? Are you crazy?’. 

Hmmm.… I thought. What to do? I looked at him and I said ‘Well, I’m going down this alley, that’s where the restaurant is!’ and kept walking down the alley

He huffed and followed me angrily, but half way down the alley I heard him gasp with surprise ‘Oh!!!’ Because it had become obvious that this spot was an absolute gem

The narrow alley entrance opened up to reveal a beautiful alley with small art galleries and a restaurant right at the end.  We went in and discovered it to be one of the most charming restaurants we had ever seen.

When we asked for a table, the host asked if we had a reservation.

‘No, but was I hoping you could fit us in’ I said.

He raised his eyebrow and told us we were in luck, they are usually fully booked but we had arrived at the best time for walk-ins and they could squeeze us in. 

We had a lovely meal, and a nice respite from the noise of the city, cozy in this hideaway.

But the best part was when my boyfriend looked over at me and said. ‘We weren’t just lucky were we? We didn’t just happen to arrive at the right time.’

I smiled, because no, we were not ‘just lucky’. I knew the best time to get a table without a reservation at this restaurant, because of course I had looked it up weeks before.

And I was reminded of it that morning when I was considering the best options for the day because there it was: written in my journal.

We always go back to the alleyway restaurant when we are in NYC. We always remember and laugh as we head down the alleyway that does not look scary to him anymore.

Lessons to learn about managing hyperfixation

So what do I think my vacation planning has taught me about how to best use my natural ADHD talents? Are there lessons that I can use in other areas of my life?

This is something I’m thinking about a lot.  I want to learn about my VAST mind, how it works so I can be my best, creative VAST/ADHD self

I’ve already found helpful tools like Focus@Will music streaming service with a timer that helps me manage my computer time.

Sleep is clearly super important in brain regulation, and believe it or not I have found that stimulant medication has helped me sleep better!

And I’ve learned that incorporating Non-Sleep Deep Rest Protocols like Yoga Nidra and even Self-Hypnosis into my day really makes a difference. It helps me rest my brain so it works at its best.

I’m also going to share what I think are the factors that helped me harness the power of hyperfixation in my next post.