In fact, there's a science to why you feel the urge to travel

If you often dream about traveling the world, rarely settle in one place, and often feel itchy feet, you may have wanderlust. But indulging in this urge to travel often takes up more resources than we have access to - on the one hand, it's expensive, and on the other hand, it's also inconvenient, requiring you to restart your life for several days and Dealing with the consequences of travel. miss them. Obviously, traveling is worth it if you can, but these inconveniences beg the question: Why do we love traveling so much? It turns out there's a science to why our suitcases are always half full.

Wanderlust is deeply rooted in human evolutionary history. It is estimated that modern humans have lived in nomadic communities for 99% of their history, following patterns of season, hunting, opportunity and ritual. About 10,000 years ago, agriculture, the skill of harvesting crops in one place to feed a larger community, developed. What's the gain? You have to stay in that area to care for what you're growing. Human settlements emerged, people stayed to have children, and villages gradually turned into towns and then cities. But the nomadic impulse is not unnatural. If things look bad in a place, it always makes good evolutionary sense to pack up and move on, even in today's world where you actually have to pay rent and work a 9-to-5.

The feeling behind wanderlust doesn't necessarily have to do with the glamor of flying, although air travel doesn't have much glamor anymore. It's about novelty: seeing new places and new things. The human brain is acutely adaptable to novelty and finds it highly pleasurable. We're always looking for something new and interesting, and our brains are wired to let completely novel information "stand out." Various neurons have specific jobs of finding novelty and can differentiate between a sight you've never seen before and something you've seen years ago.

Why? Because curiosity and the joy of discovering the unfamiliar is also a major evolutionary advantage. When you want to go somewhere you've only seen in travel brochures, an ancient reward system kicks in, releasing dopamine and opening you up to new experiences that help you understand the world around you. . Due to a trait called neoteny, which means we tend to behave more like children than other primates even as we grow older, humans retain their childlike curiosity and curiosity into adulthood. The desire to try new things. In many other species this tendency, if present, ceases at maturity.

Interestingly, a 2015 study highlighted a genetic variant, DRD4-7R, that may be linked to the desire to wander. It was immediately touted as the "wanderlust gene," but the genetic reality is much more complex. DRD4-7R appears to be associated with a greater likelihood of novelty-seeking behavior, impulsivity, and risk-taking behavior. Researchers are hasty to point out that there isn't just one gene that causes anyone's propensity to travel, but some of the science behind DRD4-7R is quite interesting. It's an unproven hypothesis that past immigration might make you more eager to travel now, but it's an interesting idea.

The other side of the novelty coin is also the fear of boredom. Humans hate boredom and will do many things to get rid of it. "Whether you are rich or poor, you will inevitably suffer from monotony," poet Joseph Brodsky told students in his 1989 commencement address at Dartmouth College. Potentially Rich , you will be interested in your work, your friends, your spouse, your lover, the view outside your window, the furniture or wallpaper in your room, your thoughts, yourself, and therefore, you will try to devise ways of escape... …Change your job, your home, your company, your country, your climate.” The problem with this, Brodsky explains, is obvious: You eventually wake up feeling the same boredom and have to change everything all over again. Sometimes we experience wanderlust because we want to get away from the familiar, and traveling is the best way to do that.

If you're feeling the urge to pack up your life and run elsewhere, there's good scientific reason for feeling that way, from a need for novelty to an underlying genetic "nudge." Go get those new passport stamps.