By Matthew Chin
If you’re the kind of person that feels compelled to travel—bound to an uncontrollable urge that flows through you, motivating you to drop everything and explore the world—chances are that desire is actually embedded in your genetic code.
DRD4, a gene that encodes the dopamine receptor D4, is associated with impulsively seeking happiness levels in your brain. People with this gene tend to make quick decisions in their quest for enjoyment and are fueled by intuition.
The gene responsible for this behaviour can also be linked to an urge to travel. A variant of the DRD4 gene, DRD4-7R, is nicknamed the “wanderlust gene,” associated with curiosity and restlessness. People with this gene are constantly on the move; no matter how many flights they take, it will never be enough. The common theme between individuals who have this gene is that they have all sought out travel and adventure in the past.
DRD4, a gene that encodes the dopamine receptor D4, is associated with impulsively seeking happiness levels in your brain. The gene responsible for this behaviour can also be linked to an urge to travel.
People with the wanderlust gene are more likely to take risks, explore new places, take drugs, and embrace change, according to National Geographic. About 20 per cent of the world’s population has this gene.
A study conducted by Chuansheng Chen, a psychologist at the University of California, found the 7R version of the gene also related to human migration. For example, the first humans that migrated from Africa roughly 50,000 to 70,000 years ago who possessed the “wanderlust gene” were found to have moved the farthest away from the continent.
The wanderlust gene is also linked to longevity, since the individual will more typically engage in social and physical activities, and thus have a healthier lifestyle. UCI Mind’s 90+ Study found that those who did not have the DRD4-7R gene had a 7-to-9.7 per cent decrease in lifespan. This suggests that a lifestyle rich with experience, risk, and adventure—seen more often in carriers of DRD4-7R—is a healthy and wholesome one.
The wanderlust gene is also linked to longevity, since the individual will more typically engage in social and physical activities, and thus have a healthier lifestyle.
Understandably, some are skeptical that a single gene can be responsible for so much human behaviour. Kenneth Kidd, a genetics doctor at Yale University said in Elite Daily, “You just can’t reduce something as complex as human exploration to a single gene.” As Kidd points out, the decision to travel can’t be accredited solely to the “wanderlust gene”—surely there are many people without the gene who love to travel, and vice versa.
But still, the wanderlust gene may be responsible for the urge felt by many to explore, and if so, those with the gene would be natural-born wanderers—always trying new experiences and reaching new heights.
So if you are labelled “the travel junkie” of your group and your friends don’t understand your constant hunger for experience, just blame it on the gene and tell them you were born that way.