Are you the person in your friendship group who is always going on a trip, coming back from a trip or talking about a trip? Most of us live and breathe travel but it turns out you can actually be legitimately addicted to it… and it might not be as amazing as it sounds.
Addictions are no laughing matter, and just like new theories about fitness addiction being a very real thing, psychologists are starting to think beyond the usual sinister subjects like drugs and alcohol when it comes to addiction.
A social psychologist specialising in travel and intercultural communication, Dr. Michael Brein, tells Condé Nast that travel addiction is possible, but diagnosing it is far from straightforward. For example, does taking an overseas holiday every year, or posting a jet-setting throwback every Thursday (and a snap for #WanderlustWednesday), make you someone with a serious travel habit, or just a travel lover like the rest of us? The answer lies in how it affects your life and mental wellbeing…
The term ‘travel addiction’ was being thrown around as early as 1886, and was often diagnosed as dromomania or vagabond neurosis, meaning an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander or travel. If you have any knowledge on mental health terminology you’ll know the word ‘mania’ on the end of a word is a nod to hysterical behaviour.
In fact, travel addiction has been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders under two categories: “impulse-control disorder” and “psychiatric problem.” The definition in the manual states: Sufferers have an abnormal impulse to travel; they are prepared to spend beyond their means, sacrifice jobs, lovers, and security in their lust for new experiences.
As you can see, a love of travel does not automatically equal a travel addiction. For it to be an addiction, the desire to travel will be undermining more important parts of your life. On a happier note, travel has also been scientifically proven to boost happiness, creativity and better brain health. Like anything though it can be taken too far, and researchers reference the competitiveness of social media as one of the leading reasons why travel addiction is becoming more common. FOMO becomes an obsession of keeping up with ultimate destinations and experiences at the expense of not only your wallet, but peace of mind.
If you do feel anxious or depressed about not travelling and it’s starting to affect your life and happiness, book a session with a professional and have a chat. And remember, travel is a joyful, life changing experience that should bring light to your life, not darkness.
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