Since I can remember, I have always loved going to new places. Even as a child, whether it was a holiday in Yugoslavia or a day-hike in the Dolomites, I was up for it. My happiest childhood memories come from those early family trips.
Travel somehow has always come natural to me. I adapt easily and it doesn’t take me long to feel home in a new place. At the same time, I don’t seem to be able to settle for good. I often wondered why. There had even been times when I felt slightly guilty about it. What is it that pushes me to travel, to keep moving? Why can’t I settle in one place, like most people do?
Looking back, now I see it. I see how my curiosity, my never-ending quest for novelty, my itch to explore have underlain and driven all my choices. Travel for me is not a hobby. It’s not about escape, either. I travel because it enriches me and makes me feel alive. Travel satisfies my thirst for discovery, my hunger for stories, my knack for adventure.
I’ve finally come to realize that this wanderlust has always been there. Most likely, it always will be. I cannot fight it. Nor should I. Truth is, I can’t help travelling. It’s in my genes.
The funny thing is, it could literally be in my genes. In this book published by Princeton, historian and economist Deepak Lal writes [emphasis mine]:
There is now growing evidence that the behavioral traits which predispose some of us to risky and novelty-seeking behavior have a genetic basis. A recent book, American Mania, by a colleague, Peter Whybrow, director of UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute, summarizes this evidence. He begins by noting that human migration is one major form of risky and novelty-seeking behavior. Only a few of our species left their ancestral home in the African savannahs and began that long walk to the ends of the earth which allowed homo sapiens to colonize the world. Who were these earliest migrants? It turns out they had a particular genetic profile. They had a higher percentage of an exploratory and novelty-seeking gene than those remaining behind.
The travel gene. I like it. Certainly this theory of a genetic predisposition to travel could help explain why – also nowadays, even within the same family – some people are perfectly happy to stay put and spend their whole life in the same place, while others are driven by wanderlust and tend to lead a nomadic life. It might also help explain my love for travel and why as soon as I get too comfortable in one place I start itching for change again.
You can’t fight your nature. And mine is telling me to go.