World Traveler Gene Discovered!

Why is it that some people are so content spending their whole lives in one city, state, or country? For someone who has been moving across borders even before he could walk, I always wonder how one fights the urge to see what lies beyond the fences around their backyard. Maybe that is because some of us have the traveler gene.

I recently read online this National Geographic article which has an insightful anecdote on Captain James Cook. Cpt. James Cook, for those who don’t know the man, is considered as one of the greatest explorers of all time. This fine British navigator is credited as the first to map the Pacific Ocean, especially the areas around New Zealand, Australia, and the Hawaiian islands.

That in mind, you will understand just how amazing it is to learn that this outstanding cartographer and traveler was himself wowed by the a Polynesian priest who was able to navigate between the thousand Pacific islands without any modern instruments — think compass and quadrant, not GPS.

Could it be that some are more naturally armed to navigate uncharted territories than others? Can one have a genetic predisposition to be nomadic? Yes!, says science.

In fact, genetic researchers at Stanford University claimed to have isolated the wanderlust gene: the DRD4-7R. It is that code encrypted in DNA that makes them more inclined not only to explore the unknown, but also to try new things, and take risks.

I will spare you the scientific details — better explained here — but the conclusion tends to say that it is not your fault if you rather spend your vacation on the couch watching Netflix rather than take on new adventures halfway around the globe.

So does it mean that the world should be segregated into two distinct groups: those with the mutant gene and those without? On one side, there would be the wildly resourceful, creative globetrotters, and on the other, the boring, family guy who works the 9-5 and spends his vacations with the in-laws.

But wait! Before we imagine that dystopian world worthy of the Divergent, take a read at this post: Garret LoPorto’s study on the traveler gene. While those with the gene are predisposed to be curious and fearless, they are also “out of control”, thus those without are definitely more likely to be rational.

You might not have what it takes to be a backpacker. Instead you are organized. As such, you need a travel planner and a well-defined itinerary. You might not be comfortable traveling alone but rather a group vacationer. You won’t take on the ascension of the Kilimandjaro because you rather sunbathe on South Beach. And you are totally OK with that — so am I, all things considered.

Ultimately, there are different ways to travel and discover the world around us. We cannot all be Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. And even Han Solo traveled the galaxy with Chewbacca. It would be flawed to conclude that those without the wanderlust gene are doomed to narrow-mindedness and no world experience: they can and should still travel.

In fact, more than 30 million Americans traveled overseas in 2014. According to the U.S. Travel’s facts and statistics, that number will only rise over the next year along with the number of budget travel airlines and shared economy accommodations. This might make you think that the main barrier to travel is more financial than genetic.

Also, the report pointed out that “trip planning sources have shifted over the last several years, with social media and mobile devices being used more often”. You no longer require special organizing skills or the assistance of a travel agents to plan an awesome trip.

Honestly, you have no excuses to procrastinate on your travel plans. Jump start a trip now using a DIY travel organizer as Type-A as you are. Check out Travefy’s free travel planner.