Wanderlust Gene

The definition of wanderlust is a strong desire to travel and explore the world.

You know them when you meet them: those people who always keep their passport on hand, who can pack for an international trip in about twenty minutes flat, who’ve almost never met a travel idea they didn’t like, who would rather take three international trips a year than own a car. They never get tired of exploring.

Scientists might have discovered why some people tend towards wanderlust and others don’t.

One gene in particular, simply known as DRD4, is associated with dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain’s natural “feel good” reward chemicals. For example, it’s released when we eat a delicious piece of chocolate cake or when we win at a race after training for months.

A derivative of DRD4, called DRD4-7R, is what’s come to be known as the “wanderlust gene.” In people who have it — only about 20 percent of the population — it shows up with an increased curiosity, restlessness, and desire to explore. And the one thing that almost all people who have DRD4-7R share in common? A history of traveling.

National Geographic cites multiple studies which show that migratory populations are more likely to have certain variants of DRD4 than more sedentary populations. Could a gene tied to migration and novelty-seeking help explain why some of us love to travel? While it isn't likely that a single gene is wholly responsible for a traveler's wanderlust, having a gene that makes you want to do new things and see new things could definitely contribute towards creating a pretty serious traveler.

Sound like anyone you know?

If you’re longing for your next great adventure, let’s talk travel! You can get in contact with my today by clicking here.

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