COMMENT: The Wanderlust Gene
In 2010, a student at Columbia University asked me:
“Im working on a story about how some people have a genetic predisposition to travel, and I’d love to get comments from you about people who have a compulsion or are obsessed with travel and have an appetite for adventure and risk. I’ve stumbled on a number of your great insights in various travel-related articles while doing my research.
Sata Hamdan, Columbia News Service (Columbia University)
“Do some people just have an innate appetite for risk and adventure when it comes to travel? Could this be enhanced by a person’s environment? Is it possible that the things that overwhelm some people when it comes to travel, like packing, visas, vaccinations excite others? Could this also be related to fear: conquering it, identifying it?
“This story is for my class, Columbia News Service, which is a news wire service that spreads our stories to over 400 publications across North America – so the story will likely get published, too.
Wanderlust may be driven by the desire to escape and leave behind depressive feelings of guilt, and has been linked to bipolar disorder in the periodicity of the attacks. Or it may reflect an intense urge for self-development by experiencing the unknown, confronting unforeseen challenges, getting to know unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and behaviours.
In adolescence, dissatisfaction with the restrictions of home and locality may also fuel the desire to travel. ]
The Travel Psychologist’s Take:
It is somewhat futile in human terms to define and measure a so-called wanderlust gene, since the human condition is so complex and does not lend itself to simple measurements of complex behaviors influenced by a multitude of social, cultural, environmental, biological, and, finally, psychological factors. Nonetheless, it is interesting to speculate in ‘pop’ psychological terms how such a gene might conceivably manifest itself in human behavior . . .