They say tattoos are addictive. Once you get one, you'll crave another. I have no idea if that's true. I don't have any ink. But I do know something similar happens with travel.

Since pretty much the first time I stared out over a foreign landscape marveling at how big, beautiful, strange, and scary the world can be, I've been constantly jonesing to get on another plane or cross another place off my list. (It was only later that I happily learned that being well travelled is correlated with business and entrepreneurial success).

But apparently, I didn't just catch a bad case of wanderlust in my college years. According to science, I might have been predisposed to it since birth. According to an eye-opening post by Xiao Xu on Bit of News, those with a severe case of itchy feet may have inherited the condition from their adventurous ancestors.

The exploration gene

"In 1999, four scientists from UC Irvine published a paper titled "Population Migration and the Variation of Dopamine D4 Receptor (DRD4) Allele Frequencies Around the Globe" that explored the migration patterns and gene pool distribution of pre-historic human beings. They were originally researching for links between dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) and Attention Deficit Disorder. While conducting the study, they discovered another weird correlation: people with the DRD4 genes tend to be thrill-seeking and migratory," she writes.

And it's not just this one lone study. Xu claims that there are dozens of studies linking a tendency to explore with the DRD4 gene. In short, science seems to suggests you might be constantly dreaming of your next destination because you inherited a thrill-seeking, travel-hungry brain from your ancient ancestors.

Wanderlust built the world

Xu goes on to explain that the globe was colonized by a small number of risk-tolerant adventurers. Back in prehistoric times, as now, most folks just made the best of things near where they were born. Only a tiny handful were crazy enough to say, 'Hey, I wonder what's on the other side of this ocean/ mountain range/ scorching desert' and head out into the unknown. But these were the ones who discovered continents, the ones who paved the way for humans to inhabit nearly every corner of the map.

Science, she concludes, gives us reason to believe that today's travel addicts might be the descendants of that small proportion of adventurous, highly migratory people in the ancient population.

Knowing that is probably just going to make your wanderlust worse, isn't it?

But that's great. Just like among our ancestors, it's still the adventurers who push the boundaries of human knowledge and achievement. So keep on traveling.

Do you buy the argument that some folks are just hard-wired to love travel?

Published on: May 25, 2016
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