The Scientific Reason You Love to Travel

Katie Sweeney

Could a love for traveling be genetic? Travel + Leisure is reporting that yes, a sense of wanderlust could be in your genes. Studies show that a specific variant of the DRD4 gene, which codes for a certain type of dopamine, could explain an urge to travel. People with this gene have a tendency to engage in more impulsive behaviors. It’s been previously tied to issues like gambling and addiction, but now science says it could also create a benign desire to travel.

DRD4 is one gene and, of course, its contribution to any complex behavior is going to be small. But those small differences add up,” explains J. Koji Lum, an anthropologist at Binghamton University. “To a certain extent, assessing risk is just running an algorithm in your head. The different genetic variants mean that algorithm is running at slightly different levels in different people. That’s where all of this comes together: people are running slightly different algorithms that help define whether or not they will take a risk. And, ultimately, over time, that one small difference in the algorithm ends up in very different lives lived.” Thus, if you have an extreme desire to explore the globe, it might be a part of your actual biology.

Planning a trip soon? Ditch your purse and carry a chic backpack instead.

Do you think you have the travel gene?

Explore: genetics, Vacation

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