Travel Addiction, Travel Research

Only 20% of People Have the ‘Wanderlust Gene’

Feel Like You’re The Only One You Know Who Loves to Travel? Well, You Might Be Right.

Here’s a bit of bad news for those looking to find someone to marry who loves to travel: Only 20% of the world’s population has the wanderlust gene, according to research cited in National Geographic. As if finding a life partner weren’t hard enough for the travel obsessed, given that we typically don’t stick around long enough in one place to meet anyone, now we have to contend with the fact that many of those “anyones” we meet won’t share our love of passport stamps and postcard art or appreciate the beauty of a thorough and well-written travel guide. Sigh.

gypsy blood quote


A lot has been written about the wanderlust gene (you can read all about it in my post “Scientists Discover the Existence of a Wanderlust Gene“) but here’s the gist of it: That insatiable desire you have to roam the world? Some scientists believe its encoded in your DNA in a gene variant called DRD4-7R. It’s been nicknamed the “wanderlust gene” and it’s an inherited trait, passed down from explorer to explorer, going back to the earliest nomads. Marco Polo likely had it, as may have Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Maglleun. This is a fact that Svante Pääbo, a director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, thinks makes us all a wee bit crazy.

“No other mammal moves around like we do,” Pääbo told the National Geographic. “We jump borders. We push into new territory even when we have resources where we are. Other animals don’t do this….There’s a kind of madness to it. Sailing out into the ocean, you have no idea what’s on the other side. And now we go to Mars. We never stop. Why?”

We can’t help it, Pääbo. We were born to travel! It’s in our blood. Literally.

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