Science Confirms That You Can Actually Be Addicted to Travel

You may be suffering from "vagabond neurosis."

Dreaming about travel? Obsessively pinning travel ideas? Stalking Instagram for destination inspo? Ask your doctor if bailing on life to travel might be right for you!

Well, OK, so you may not exactly qualify to get your next vacay covered by your health insurance — but there is recent news to suggest that wanderlust is actually a real condition, proven to exist by bona fide science... and a condition that can actually prove harmful.

In a recent report in Conde Nast TravelerDr. Michael Brein explained that travel addiction is real. And as is the case with other types of addictions, the social psychologist specializing in travel and intercultural communication explained that travel addiction could go too far.

References to the notion of travel addiction date back to 1886; back then, it was called "dromomania," or an abnormal impulse to travel. It was also known as “vagabond neurosis."

In 2000, it was actually added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, listed as both an “impulse-control disorder” and “psychiatric problem." 

According to the 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.” Umm, uh-oh, it seems like literally every millennial has this condition. Is it in the water?

Brein noted this is psychological, not biochemical, like a drug addiction would be. These days, travel obsession is a widespread condition — even a social norm and highly prized value. You cannot scroll through Facebook without seeing someone share a story about a picture-perfect place they're dying to visit, or articles about how millennials can't afford houses like the previous generation because we travel and buy avocados. For some, it's becoming seriously harmful, as FOMO leads to anxiety or depression — or deep debt from chasing dreams around the world.

Traveler also shared examples of people who have lost their homes and even family over their travel obsessions. Or consider our recent coverage of the youngest person to visit every country on earth — at just 27. And one Instagrammer completely ripped off another's work in a bizarre episode of travel copycatting

So let's all just try to remember that travel — for all of its many experiential rewards — might best be moderated... like anything else.

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