Although I’ve yet to be tested, all signs indicate that I’ve inherited the wanderlust gene. I’m not quite sure who I acquired it from, as my parents are perfectly happy staying within a 15-minute driving distance from their home. Monotony gives them comfort.
But for me, something different is what excites me. I crave new places to explore, and other than having a return flight booked; I prefer to travel without plans. It nearly always leads to more enjoyment.
Take my last trip, for example. I just got back from Toronto, where my business partner, Shawn Collins, and I hosted a Performance Marketing Summit. The last time I visited Toronto was back in 1987 with a bunch of friends from SUNY Buffalo. We piled into my buddy’s car, filled the trunk with an assortment of cheap beer, and took the quick drive across the border. This time, I decided to stay an extra day to explore the city as a grown up. I figured that whatever time I woke up was when said exploration would commence.
Well, that extra day in Toronto was spent visiting two Ontario wineries, having an incredible vineyard lunch, and witnessing Mother Nature at her best, when she produced an amazing rainbow over Niagara Falls for our entire group to behold.
As I sat on the plane looking through the photos of the places I visited in Toronto; I couldn’t stop thinking about my upcoming trip to Spain. Sometimes it seems as though my thirst for travel may never be quenched, no matter how many destinations I visit. It turns out; there is a scientific explanation.
In 1993, a study by Jay B. Lichter et al. attributed the DRD4 gene to controlling dopamine levels in the brain and linked them to motivation and behavior. In 2010, the first genome sequence from an extinct human became available, indicating that humans and Neanderthals interbred about 37,000 years ago, and a new gene in the human genome was formed, DRD4-7R. It was also around that time that humanity started to create and sustain large civilizations. A 2011 study (Schilling, Walsh, and Yun) indicated that 20% of humans carry the DRD4-7R (aka wanderlust gene), which is linked to risk-taking, sensation-seeking and novelty-seeking, and correlated with openness to new experiences, intolerance to monotony, and exploratory behavior. It was also tied to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; a disorder that I’ve been diagnosed with.
I guess I can blame DRD4-7R for my business success (and failures), my impulsivity, and my hunger to learn and see new things. I can also blame it for my inability to stay on a healthy track when I travel. Wanderlust nearly always trumps my best intentions, which remain in my suitcase, along with my sneakers and work-out clothes.
But, at least now I have a real excuse to give my husband when I ask for another hall pass to travel. Babe, it’s in my DNA since before I even existed.
Is wanderlust in your DNA?