The Desire to Travel Could Be Genetic

Grab your passports! If it’s in your genes, that sense of wanderlust is permanent, and begging for a getaway.

You know the feeling when it comes creeping… The urge for newness, desire for inspiration, and thirst for adventure hits you like a tidal wave that just won’t quit.

You have wanderlust.

For some a stamp on a passport is more fulfilling than any job would or could ever be. It’s like a never-ending need to be in awe of something. Those of us with wanderlust crave adventure, and in some cases feel more at “home” in any destination other than our actual abode. Everywhere is home—even those inexplicably uncomfortable plane seats.

For people drawn to new experiences and suffers of insatiable wanderlust, travel guides their heartbeat; it feels as if it runs through their veins… In actuality, that desire to travel could actually be genetic. If you’re destined to explore and have an incurable travel bug, you may have neurotransmitters, genes, and alleles to thank for it.

So, what’s going on here? Let’s break it down: Dopamine is a neurotransmitter—essentially something that neurons use to communicate with each other—and some dopamine-releasing neurons have been implicated in “reward” and “pleasure.” Dopamine could be a motivating factor in our desire to go out in search of things that activate these pleasure and reward responses. It has been deemed by TIME as the brain’s “feel-good chemical.”

According to Travel + Leisure:

Studies over the years have proven a link between an excess of dopamine in the brain and a tendency to engage in impulsive and dangerous behaviors. This surplus dopamine has also been associated with a specific variant of the DRD4 gene, which codes for a single type of dopamine receptor called the 7R+ allele. While this genetic variation has previously been tied to issues like gambling and addiction, it can also explain a more benign compulsion, the urge to travel.

If you’re thinking you’ve just found the diagnosis, and reason, for your sudden urge to get up and go you could be right. The DRD4-7R variant has been said to be carried by approximately 20 percent of the human population. And the 7R+ allele has been linked to that can’t-sit-still, gotta-keep-moving surge of curiosity, that drives our desire to see new places, taste new foods, and welcome change and new experiences. According to National Geographic: “Studies in animals simulating 7R’s actions suggest it increases their taste for both movement and novelty. (Not incidentally, it is also closely associated with ADHD.)”

Wanderlusters rejoice: Now when your parents, friends, coworkers, or loved ones can’t seem to understand why you’re not satisfied with staying in one place, and ask you why you can’t keep still, you’ve got a new answer for them. Long live the adventure!

Want some inspiration? Check out these the Peace Love Car videos below and plan your next adventure. 

Maggie Peikon bio2Maggie Peikon is a New York native, writer, and sufferer of insatiable wanderlust. An avid endorphin seeker she has a constant need to be moving, seeking adventure in all she does. She is a lover of travel, daydreaming, fitness, thunderstorms, and her dog, Finley. Despite the fact that she has to take medication daily due to a thyroidectomy, Maggie still believes that laughter will always be the best medicine. Follow her musings on Instagram and Twitter.