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The wanderlust gene is a real thing, and you might have it

A woman with wanderlust jumping off a boat.

Do you ever feel like desire to travel is just in your blood? Maybe your parents are big travellers and you inherited the love for it, or maybe you’re a full blown travel addict who has been bitten by the travel bug. Either way, turns out there is an actual wanderlust gene, which is basically nature’s way of telling us to GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE…

Researchers have found that 20% of the population have a variation on the DRD4 gene, and anyone with the 7R variant has a high predisposition to be ‘restless and curious’. That’s basically code for travelling, exploring new cultures and eating new foods right?! The DRD4-7R gene affects the brain’s dopamine levels, which in turn shapes your behaviour and motivation, which leads to increased risk taking. That explains why us wanderlusters are so cool with jumping out of our comfort zones and into far flung destinations!

Speaking to Conde Nast Traveler, biologist Dawn Masler from Kaplan University, has said her extensive studies into the gene have shown just how noticeable the results are and when compared to people’s lifestyles it was clear DRD4-7R gene holders tended to travel more: “The wanderlust gene is so powerful. It appears that the DRD4 gene is more predominant in the traveling type of person. Dopamine is the liking hormone, and when you want to get more, it doesn’t sate you – you get hooked.”

A group of women embracing their wanderlust gene while floating on inflatable rafts in the ocean.

So who has this gene and intense genetic desire to jet off? Dawn says that it tends to be ‘settlers’ and ‘migrators’. “‘We see a greater portion of the DRD4-7R gene in South and North Americans, at least the ones descended from Europeans who came over to settle it, which makes sense,” she explains. It’s very possible that coming from a long line of people who moved around and sought the unknown means you have the gene.

How much genes are responsible for your personality is an age old question though. Is it nature (i.e. DRD4-7R) or nurture (seeing how much joy travel brings others), that makes someone into a travel addict? It’s impossible to say, and DNA testing is mighty expensive so it’s hard to find out if you carry the gene. Anyway, would it even matter if you did or didn’t? Personally, I don’t need a medical certificate to tell me I’m a born traveller, I figured that out all on my own.


A woman embracing her wanderlust gene, jumps off a boat in a bikini.