Science Says The Travel Bug Is Actually Part Of Our DNA
Travelling is the ultimate wonder drug. It helps you live longer, it makes you better at your job, and it will even make you happier in the long run. But why do we travel? What’s that inherent feeling inside us that makes us want to pack up our bags and see the world? Well according to the experts, it turns out that desire for new experiences is genetic. It’s actually in our DNA.
First, an explainer: over the years there have been countless studies about how impulsive behaviours are often linked to an excess of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical compound related to adrenaline, and a surplus of this compound if often associated with a very specific genetic variation called the DRD4 gene.
Basically, this specific gene is now being linked to the first advancements of man. Apparently that extra burst of dopamine may have helped provoke prehistoric man’s need to leave home and find food, shelter and companionship. Justin Garcia, a biologist from Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute told Travel + Leisure that that biological history can translate to modern-day wanderlust.
He goes on to say that DRD4 could explain why some view travelling as intuitive and exciting, while others can see it as risky or scary. It makes sense too: our brains are consistently accessing risks on a day-to-day basis – is it safe to cross the road? Is it smart to eat this chilli? – but because everyone has different genetic variants in their brains, these questions mean different things to different people.
Ultimately, a desire to travel can be linked to our relationship with risk-taking. If you’re down with stepping out over Europe’s tallest mountain in a giant see-through box then it’s probably safe to say you’re courageous and adventure is your A-game.
So the next time someone thinks your nuts for wanting to travel the world, you can tell them that your wanderlust is legitimately part of your DNA. And you certainly can’t argue with science.
(h/t Travel + Leisure)