Are some of us born to travel? Is there really a gene that gives us the desire to be on the road? Are we escaping to leave something behind, merely inquisitive, looking for answers or just thirsting for adventure? I explore the myth of the wanderlust gene and the fact that scientists can now prove it exists.
Society falls into two distinct camps – those who love to travel and those that would much prefer to stay at home. I am firmly entrenched in the former. A well-seasoned traveller, I love nothing more than immersing myself in other countries traditions, lapping up their culture & basking in the buzz that only travel to a foreign land can give.
Are you unfazed by heading off into the unknown or quite content to stay put?
I’ve wondered about my travel bug for some time, particularly since having kids, something I thought would ground me. It’s true my restlessness was quelled over the baby years, when easy trips to Europe were a quick fix, but looking at other content Mothers around me – I’ve still wondered what’s wrong with me?
Nothing it would seem!
Scientists have identified a wanderlust gene - DRD4-7R - a genetic derivative of the gene DRD4, which is associated with the dopamine levels in the brain (which gives us feelings of pleasure and motivation). Those that have the DRD4-7R gene are more disposed to increased levels of curiosity and restlessness. This gene has been linked with human migration, and what’s more, only one fifth of us have it.
This would certainly explain the inherent restlessness in me to explore, to adventure, to get on the road. I’m just wired differently.
So it would seem it’s official and it’s a relief to know that there could be a valid explanation for the fact I could easily pack up the family and trot off to pastures new without a second thought.
People with the DRD4-7r gene, have been linked to traits like novelty and adventure-seeking characteristics, extraversion, environmental sensitivity, risk taking and impulsivity. According to LoPorto, while carriers of this genetic variant might be “incredibly resourceful, pioneering, creative,” and more predisposed for wanderlust, they also might be “utterly out of control.”
It’s scarily close to the bone! But it feels good to know – at last.
So if you’ve ever had the feeling you don’t fit in, fail to put down roots or just bored stupid with static life, you can feel safe in the knowledge there’s another 20% of the population feeling the exact same way & if you take the plunge and go, you’ll be well on your way to meeting them!
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far