The Wanderlust Gene

Have you heard of the wanderlust gene?

You may have noticed that this blog is called Wanderlust Languages. You might have also noticed that when I’m not writing about important stuff like translation and language study, I’m often writing about my wanderlust. I’m not one of those chicks who is happy with a week on the Costa del Sol once a year and spending the other 51 weeks in my office in London, however much I like my cool flat in Hammersmith and my job with a pretty awesome charity. Basically, I have an insatiable need to travel. I make a distinction between travel and going on a holiday. A holiday is generally between two days and two weeks – flying to a place, lying on a beach, drinking a few cocktails, taking a selfie in front of the most famous landmarks and buying a jokey magnet. Travelling, at least to me, is something else: going somewhere new and unknown, spending a real amount of time there and really immersing yourself in the culture, language, local life and off-the-beaten-track sights. Whilst I’m absolutely not knocking a weekend city break – I love these too! – this isn’t what I mean when I talk about wanderlust.

For me, life is all about learning and experiencing new things, meeting the next challenge and really getting to know a different place and culture. And this is the thing that I crave. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I’ve studied in Spain, taught in Austria and worked as a translator in Germany, among other medium-term projects and shorter trips abroad. And although my life in London is certainly not bad, I’m 100% ready for the next challenge abroad in my life.

So I was interested to read some recent research that says I’m not just a restless twenty-something who can’t settle down, but chances are I actually have the wanderlust gene! According to the study, around 20% of people may have the DRD4-7R gene – which is responsible for making you more curious and with an insatiable appetite for new experiences. In particular, the gene is associated with a strong interest in travel. In fact, it may originate from regions of the world where exploration of new territories has historically been important.

And it seems I’m not alone in having this gene. I recently read a post by the fantastic Virginia Stuart Taylor on why she struggles with spending too much time in one place, and it had a good response from others who share this feeling. Virigina, who is a passionate travel blogger, says that spending several months in London without any trips abroad or any adventures planned left her feeling flat and unmotivated. She also said that no matter how many fun things there might be here in London, after a while it can get quite boring here.

As for myself, I haven’t been out of the UK since a really great, bohemian week spent in Berlin (with a detour via Utrecht in the Netherlands and Ghent in Belgium) at New Year. So, ok, it’s only been two months of relentless London greyness, but I am absolutely ready to get on a plane out of here. Preferably with a one-way ticket! Fortunately I have three great trips planned to liven up the next few months:

6-10 March – Lisbon: A short city break with two university friends to see a brand-new country and hopefully enjoy some sun and pastéis de nata

2-7 April – Tuscany: Hopefully a relaxing Easter trip to Italy with my partner and his kids. I’ve been to Italy once before but this will be a crash-course for my Italian and a new region to visit.

10-22 April – Pittsburgh and NY: My sister is an adoptive Pittsburgher (this is definitely a word) and so I’m heading there for a visit, taking in New York, New York along the way.

So, I’m definitely not starving in terms of trips out of the UK this spring. But there was one line from this article about the wanderlust gene that particularly resonated with me: “You’re into one-way flights and trips without a destination.” This pretty much sums me up, and unfortunately the return ticket lurking at the bottom of my suitcase takes something away from my experience. My next stop in June this year will hopefully be much more long-term though.

chernobyl
Yep, I’m in Chernobyl!

What do you think? Do you think you have the wanderlust gene too? Let me know in the comments!

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