Yes, You Can Be Addicted To Travel And Here’s Why
Travel can be one of the most profound experiences a human being can enjoy in his or her lifetime. We feel enriched as we expose ourselves to new landscapes and cultures, test our navigation and language skills, and simply trade our everyday routines for a breath of fresh air. But for some people, their love of travel is so dominant that it morphs from fanaticism to addiction.
Dromomania, or an “abnormal impulse to travel” was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2000. According to its definition, “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.” Sound familiar? If so, it’s probably worth taking some time for honest self-reflection on your travel habits, reactions and the like.
Dromomania isn’t a neurological addiction, but rather a behavioral one that is closely tied to one’s emotional fulfillment. In fact, a study from the University of Vermont that analyzed 37 million tweets posted by more than 180,000 individuals found that 15 percent of people were significantly happier the further they were from home. On the flipside, there are plenty of anecdotes out there about people who seem to fall into a dark pit of depression the moment they return to their normal lives simply because their trips are over. And for some, the pleasure derived from travel grows smaller and smaller the more they venture, so they have to up the ante on every subsequent trip, be it with the location chosen or time spent (or both), to find the same high they once experienced.
Sometimes, it’s just an escapist’s dream to not wake up if he or she doesn’t want to.
It’s normal to enjoy leaving behind your everyday routine with work, friends and loved ones for a total change of scenery — but to an extent. If that joy is overwhelming and you return from one trip just long enough to be able to plan the next time you’re leaving, you might be trying to avoid a home life that is unfulfilling to some degree, whether consciously or subconsciously. And constantly removing yourself from your own world to experience those of others, press pause on time and avoid your existing issues will likely cause more harm than good. “Travel is an escape, but it shouldn’t only be an escape,” social psychologist Dr. Michael Brein told Condé Nast Traveler. “You can only do it so much.”
So travel the world to make your own a little bigger. But don’t forget to come home and find gratitude for all the aspects of your life that make you who you are. Travel so often becomes a search for happiness rather than a sense of purpose, and ultimately, the latter deserves so much more of your time and energy.