Is Traveling in Your Genes?
Sometimes I wonder, if there is something wrong with me. Why can’t I be satisfied with a nice 2 week vacation in some resort on a beach somewhere? Traveling is such an essential part of me and who I am. Is traveling in your genes too?
My Dad is here (from Germany) visiting me in Texas for the next couple of weeks and he’s been telling me about the travel adventures of his life. As we sat there, reminiscent of his honeymoon in Tunisia, his solo trip to England at age 15 in 1954, our many crazy RV trips through the United States and some other pretty cool stuff, I was wondering if I got my wanderlust from him.
Is Traveling in Your Genes? Science Says Yes!
Actually, it seems science is on my side here and current research answers the question: Is traveling in your genes? with YES. Apparently the Dopamine Receptor Gene DRD4 brings out the adventure seeker in a person, who loves to explore and discover new things. I’m not a scientist, but if you want to read the full study behind it in Nature, you can do that here. I have to admit that I only understand the broad gist of it, but it was still a fascinating read and I hope they do more research on this.
But is it only that? Is traveling ONLY in your genes? While I don’t want to start up the whole Nature vs Nurture debate again, I also strongly believe that what you are exposed to as a child will have an impact on how you live your life as an adult, but how this influence plays out, is still a mystery to me. I know some people who grew up with the same old same old resort vacation in the same beach resort every year and now they are traveling off the beaten path and to the most exotic locations, while others book the same kind of vacations that their parents booked year in year out.
Is Traveling in MY Genes?
I grew up with a pretty adventurous family, but nothing totally off the hook crazy. When I was three years old, my parents took me and my two siblings (13 & 15) and my cousin (9) on an epic 6 week RV trip from San Francisco to New York. It was quite an adventure, especially when you consider that neither of my parents spoke much English and they didn’t know anybody in the US. While not everything went according to plan during this trip, they kept up their positive attitude and fell in love with the country and its people. So we decided to return year after year, picking a different route and exploring a new pocket of the United States. One year we drove from San Diego to Seattle. Another year from Los Angeles to Miami. While many of these memories blended together in my mind, I do remember how much fun we had as a family during our adventures.
But how did these childhood experiences of travel influence me and my siblings? When I compare us three, I would say that I am probably the most adventurous of our bunch when it comes to living abroad and traveling. Is it because I was exposed to in from such an early age or did I is it my DRD4 receptor gene’s fault that I constantly want to explore and discover new things? I don’t know. But I do know that there are different types of people out there. People who need the rush of being outside their comfort zone and thrive when they are thrown into an unfamiliar situation, while others get overwhelmed with this sort of thing and need the security of being in familiar surroundings. There is also no black and white, most people are somewhere in between and pursue a mix of comfort and challenge. Yes, I love to explore new cities, hand-gesture my way through Asia and try weird local foods from the most obscure looking street vendors. But I also enjoy binge-watching weekend with Netflix and visiting places I have been before, walking down the same streets and feel like an expert traveler in this region. Just like with everything in life, we mix and match to make it work for us. All I know is that traveling makes me happy and sometimes it feels like I need it just as much as air to live.
Where is Your Travel Inspiration Coming from?
What about you? Is traveling in your genes? Did you grow up with traveling parents and followed them in their footsteps or are you known as the oddball crazy traveler in your family? Where did you get your travel inspiration from?
I definitely think so, especially when you look back at family history & find a lot of gypsy spirits.
Love love love this post! My family only drove more than 2 hours from home once in my childhood, but when I was a teenager my Mom sent me on a European summer exchange and my life has never been the same. My parents were not travellers, but I found out as an adult that my grandmother had done quite a bit of traveling before she settled down as a farm wife and mother. I don’t know if it was genes, but the connection I feel to her, knowing she indulged in her desires to see the world at a time when that really was not easy, inspires me everyday.
Wow, this is amazing that your Mom did that! Maybe she lived her travel dreams through you? I feel that my Dad (even though he thinks I’m a bit nuts), lives for my travel tales and loves to brag about me, his world traveling daughter, hehe.
Great post! I don’t think I got the travel gene from my parents (they boarded their first flight around age 23 :p) but I want to travel everywhere 🙂
Sometimes, we turn into the opposite of our parents and because we don’t like the way they do something, we need to try out the other extreme. Happy Travels 🙂
I totally believe that we are wired somehow to either travel or stay put, to be curious or not and to have the desire to live outside our comfort zone or stay in the mundane. I am a traveler at heart… been traveling since birth with the military– first with my father, now with my husband. I have never lived anywhere more than 3 years and I have no desire to do. Now that retirement is just around the corner, I am petrified that life will be boring.
Wow, that sounds amazing Stacey. I grew up with a home base and I am very happy that my sister still lives in the house that I grew up in, but I also feel that after 3-4 years I have an itch to move on.
I love your blog http://www.Duffelbagspouse.com and I would love to interview you or have you share your thoughts on your nomadic life on MariaAbroad. Would you be interested?
That sounds like fun. If you’re still interested let me know.
I think I get it from my father!!
Love this post, Maria. It explains a lot! Why some of us love to travel and that traveling is like an addiction (but a good one)! Great article!
Yes, it is very similar to an addiction. The more you travel, the more you want to explore! Thanks for your comment Noreen!
Travel is in my genes! I really believe this. I also know my grandparents and my mom showed me the importance of travel at an early age. Fun article and topic!
I think it is, my parents traveled and now I’m just taking it another level 😀
I think it is in my family’s genes. I talk a lot about how my grandparents hopping around the world inspired me!
Great post! It is hard to say where the travel bug comes from but there is no cure!!:)
This is an awesome post! I grew up traveling with my family, and now my mom and I are always planning our next trip together. My mom really loves to travel, and I definitely think it’s rubbed off on my brother and I.
Love this post! Explains so much! I definitely believe that there is something genetic in regards to permanent wanderlust…the kind where travel is almost like an addiction.
I am not sure where mine comes from as a child we would go on holidays every summer for 3 weeks but that was about it. I can remember from a young age always looking at books with pictures of far away places and wishing i could go there. My children will hopefully have the gene but then again they may not need to travel since they have been to nearly 20 countries as it is by the age of 10
Yes! Travelling is in your genes, I am a firm believer in this, and love the science behind it. I blame my father completely.
Surprisingly, my parents are not into travel, so does my sister and brother. In my family, I’m the only one with the itchy feet. All my inspirations are from awesome blogs like this and books and movies!
That’s a very good point! As a little girl I had to travel quite often with parents who are original from another region and I hated that! I was homesick, car sick… afraid my friends would forget me. But when I played alone… I always pretended to travel. I was no mother nor teacher nor top model in my dreams. I was an adventurer. Gradually I started doing that by myself (like in my dreams) and I never stopped. Maybe my ancestors were nomads? (I have strong etruscan traits so… maybe yes 🙂 )
We are all born curious and I would think that reflects in my feelings toward travel. Traveling is a great way to grow and learn independence too, glad to know science supports my hobby!
I like to think that my obsession with traveling came from my parents, even though they didn’t have the chance to DO much traveling for most of my life. Instead, they always encouraged us kids to travel, while as a family (of 7!) we kept pretty close to home…well, within a day’s driving distance usually. Now that we’re all grown, my parents have done a lot more traveling, so I know for certain they have the bug 🙂
Agreed. I think as humans we naturally need to move around, but I think at some point we all settled down – some of us still have that urge to move though.
Travelling was as experience my parents could not give me as I grew up with a really ill dad. He always talked about trips he wanted to take but sadly could not. I did not take my first overseas trip until I was 27 but the bug got me and I have travelled almost every year since. I took my daughter on a 5 week trip to Italy and Germany when she was 12, Asia when she was 15 and the USA last year at 17. Now she is planning her own long-term solo travel for as soon as she is old enough.
I am not sure if it is in your genes or it’s a matter of once you are exposed to it you see the benefit of each experience and crave more. Perhaps my dad talking about travelling all the time was enough for me to know it was something I needed to do. Regardless of how you get the bug it’s the best damn bug you can pass on to your kids!
I really enjoyed reading your story, thank you for sharing it:-) I have gone on many camping trips with my parents and 3 siblings and we have all traveled to faraway places at least once. I definitely agree travel is at least partially in your genes;-)
I always thought I got the travelling bug form my Dad. He’s always been the one getting the map out to show me where he’s visited and loved going on road trips when he was younger. He still does now! In that way I think it’s in your genes but it’s also the way you’re brought up and what you’re exposed to in life that makes you want to travel 🙂
YES! Traveling is in my Genes!! Always seeking out new adventures!
100% agree with you!
My mum loved to travel, always looking for a new place to visit.
I know that my eager for the new comes from her 🙂
Now that’s an interesting trivia to know 😉
My family though is not so much into travel — they mainly did it when I was small for business, not really for leisure so I’m not sure where I got it. Haha! But I’m sure glad I got bitten by this travel bug.
I grew up in a setting wherein the forest creeps into the bay so I’ve always been encouraged to explore the outdoors and be athletic. I definitely agree that the way you were raised will greatly influence your adult life.
My mother encourages traveling for my whole family. She understands the beauty of curiosity at a young age and always took us to beach trip all over the Philippine archipelago. She’s encouraged me to be open and have respect toward different cultures and religions. These accumulated experiences growing up made me who I am today and I will eternally be grateful for the way my mother raised me.
Hoping you and your family will have more precious moments traveling together, Maria!
Oh I love this post! Great topic and I have to agree, definitely think there is something in your genes but perhaps also how much you’re exposed. I found after my first international trip the travel bug really bit and I learn so much about myself as well as the world and other cultures with every trip I go on.
So that means my traveling gene can be genetically transferred?
Kind of family genes but also education I think.
My mom says I was born with a travel bug 😀 I think I used to be the most excited when it came to going to a new place 😀
Such a great question! Our munchkin just turned a year old and we take her everywhere – we can’t help but wonder what sort of impact our traveling is having on her. She positively loves being outside and loves to be in motion, especially on boats. Thanks for the thought provoking post and happy Tuesday!
Interesting post! I’m probably the most travel-obsessed out of my immediate family, but we were raised in two different cultures so I think that helped spark an interest for me in exploring more of the world. But my cousin is a whole other story.. I’m pretty sure that she’s been to over 60 countries at this point. Definitely my travel inspiration 🙂
I definetely see it in myself – my parents were both avid travelers and my dad traveled to America alone from Germany as a 20 year old eventually settling here. As a teen he traveled all of northern europe and working in many countries. I find myself an equal balance of nester and explorer. Having traveled the entire world for my whole life, I always find comfort in coming home to my own bed and pillow.