Stella Pioli, Italy
I love to travel. Don’t you love that feeling when your first waking thought is, “Oh, yeah…I’m going somewhere today!”?. My parents and grandparents always told me to explore the world, because if we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.
A word that we always hear more often is “Wanderlust”. For those who don’t know what it is, it means a strong desire for or impulse to travel and explore the world. It may reflect an intense urge for self-development by experiencing the unknown, getting to know unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and behaviors, or may be driven by the desire to escape. For them, it’s not only travel, but a challenge; they explore places where they are likely to be pushed out of their comfort zones or encouraged to take risks.
Not everybody is meant to travel. There are some people who never feel the urge to leave the house. Staying in the city they came from, hanging out with the people they have known since they were kids, sitting on the same the couch, and staying in the 360 degrees that immediately surrounds them: they’re happy with that. A lot of people in this world don’t see the point of travelling, and most say it’s a waste of time, money, or it’s scary to travel to places that are far away.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page” – Saint Augustine
Then there are the rest of us: the people who can’t sit still and always keep their passports on them – just in case. In fact, if we did not love to travel and explore a new culture we would have never taken this trip to Santa Barbara. It doesn’t matter if you stay for 4 weeks or 9 months, you had the impulse to travel, you were bitten by the travel bug. We are still finding and preparing ourselves for school and career. The skills and experience we gain from traveling abroad gives us life-long personal benefits as well as a leg up in the professional world.
But have you ever wondered why some people need to travel more than others? For those people, it becomes one of life’s essential needs, as important as food and shelter.
Well, a study shows that such behavior traits with a gene variant known as DRD4-7R, which is thought to be present in around 20 % of the population. Some have even nicknamed it as the “wanderlust gene”. DRD4 is a dopamine receptor that helps control the levels of dopamine in our brains. The 7R allele is associated with increased risk-taking, curiosity and various psychiatric disorders including ADHD, alcoholism and drug dependency.
The Earth is filled with infinite experiences, wonders and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Imagine, camping out underneath the aurora borealis in the Canadian tundra or hiking through the Sacred Valley of Machu Picchu. I believe that a lot of education is experienced in a classroom or through a textbook, but it isn’t nearly as fulfilling or effective as traveling the world.
We are inspired to live better, to be happier and to give back to those in need. Our lives are defined by experiences. The greater the number of experiences, the better the definition of life becomes.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West.