“We can’t reduce something as complex as human exploration to just one gene. Genetics doesn’t work like that” says Kenneth Kidd, a geneticist at Yale University. Kidd states that studies that support the concept of the wanderlust gene are equally contradicted by studies that refute it.
Being transported to Paris on the big screen is convenient but cannot compare to climbing the Eiffel Tower and enjoying the experience first-hand. This feeling is even stronger for those for whom the word “tourist” does not do them justice; those for whom travelling the world is a philosophy of life. In 2011, Walter Chang decided to leave his job in New York, grab hold of his passport and visit 60 countries. He has danced at the Burning Man festival, travelled through the desert in Namibia and scaled Everest. “One year became two. Two became three. Continual travel made me feel as though I was getting hooked on a drug” says Chang. The explanation for this addictive feeling might be found in genetics, specifically in a variant of the DRD4 gene, which is involved in regulating dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is also linked to falling in love.
A genetic study in 1999 directed by Chuansheng Chen of the University of California discovered that the DRD4-7R derivative is more common in migratory cultures than in those that remain settled.