Dreaming of travel? It's all genetic
Wanderlust; it’s a term found on the glossy pages of travel magazines and heard amongst friends at the pub. It’s a word that defines the deep love we all share for exploring the world. But have you ever wondered why some always seem to be planning their next big adventure, while others prefer home comforts and familiar surroundings? Apparently, it’s all down to science. Researchers have found the desire to travel linked with a certain gene nicknamed the “wanderlust gene,” but known amongst Geneticists as DRD4-7R. The gene is a dopamine receptor, which means it helps to control the amount of dopamine that floods our brain, the chemical that makes our heart skip a beat and lifts our mood when you fall in love, eat some chocolate, exercise, or jet off on holiday. But, DRD4-7R is slightly different as this dopamine receptor increases people’s desire to take risks.
It’s thought that around 20% of the population has this gene and it’s even been linked to human migration. In 1999 research by the University of California suggested that those with the gene are more comfortable living a travel lifestyle and don’t fare as well living amongst settled villagers. Many have suggested that some of the finest travellers in history possess the gene including Amelia Earhart, Marco Polo and of course Charles Darwin.
However, Dr Richard Ebstein, Professor of Psychology at the National University of Singapore, has been studying DRD4-7R for more than two decades. In his professional opinion, one gene can’t have that much of an impact on your entire personality.
“Any one gene only contributes a very small percentage towards someone’s personality,” says Dr Ebstein to the Telegraph. “The other fly in the ointment is the environment, there are studies that suggest environmental effects actually change the way the ‘wanderlust gene works.”
So, what do you think? Are you harbouring a gene that makes you dream of distant lands and leads you to scroll through Skyscanner late into the night? Or do you think this is something that resides in all of us? Let us know by commenting below.