Ever feel like you’re totally obsessed with traveling? You just might have wanderlust syndrome! Yep, it’s a totally real thing. Well, sort of anyway. Read on to learn more about your travel obsession and find out why it’s not such a bad thing to have!
Obsessed with Traveling? You Just Might Have Wanderlust Syndrome!
First, before anyone says, “Fake news, there’s no such thing,” let me just point out that Wanderlust Syndrome isn’t something you’ll find in the diagnostic manuals. In other words, it’s not technically a medical condition. For those of us who dream of jumping in a plane, train, or automobile and flitting off to far-off lands, though, I’d say it’s real enough!
Interestingly, psychologists in the 19th century felt that it was a real thing! They coined the term Dromomania, and used it to describe people with an uncontrollable urge to wander. Want to hear something even crazier? It was considered a criminal mania, ranked right up there with kleptomania (the urge to steal) and pyromania (the urge to set things on fire)! Oh, it gets better. Once upon a time, the powers that be viewed it as a sign of psychopathy!
Of course, today we know that wanderlust isn’t a disease, and having an intense urge to hit the road doesn’t mean we’re violent criminals. We have a better understanding of obsessive behaviors and know that a truly uncontrollable urge to wander (as in, you literally can’t stop yourself) is a symptom rather than a condition on its own.
If you honestly can’t stop yourself from traveling, even at the expense of your job, your family, or your bank account, then it’s not a joking matter. I urge you to get help right away. For most of us, though, wanderlust is just that – a lust for wandering, or traveling.
Why are we so obsessed with traveling these days?
The urge to travel is hardly a new thing. Ever since humans first learned that the world was bigger than the space beyond their caves, they’ve felt the pull of wanderlust. If they didn’t we’d all be living right around Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia , where archaeologists believe civilization began.
Instead, humankind set out on foot, then on boats, in trains, and eventually planes to discover new lands and satisfy an incredible urge to see what else is out there. That’s really what’s at the heart of wanderlust, after all. A desire to see what else the world has to offer. Why, though, does it seem like everyone is totally obsessed with travel these days, even more so than millennia, centuries, or even decades ago?
Traveling is easier than it’s ever been
Well, for one thing, travel is far easier now than it’s ever been. Oh sure, you have to deal with a lot more hassles. No one enjoys waiting in line for an hour to take off their shoes for TSA (and you’re lucky if that’s all you have to take off) or have all of their belongings rifled through! Still, it beats getting cholera or consumption during a 2+ month trek from England to the New World!
We know there’s a whole world waiting to be explored
For another, we know what’s out there waiting to be discovered. We’ve read all the travel blogs, watched the nature shows, drooled over Instagram photos of our friends’ cruise vacations and beach getaways. The only thing worse than wondering if there’s more to this world than our own backyard is knowing that there is and not being able to explore it.
So, we dream, we plan, we scrimp and save, all in the hopes that we’ll be able to cross even a fraction of the places on our travel bucket lists. Is there anything wrong with that, though? Should we be concerned that we’re too obsessed with traveling? For that, we’ll turn to science.
Is it really all that bad to be obsessed with traveling?
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re truly obsessed with traveling then yes, it is a problem. If it interferes with your ability to function and care for yourself or your family, seek help. Of course, that goes for any addiction or clinical obsession. Likewise, if your wanderlust drives you to choose traveling over, say, paying your rent, you’ve got a problem.
For those who love it just to the point of choosing traveling over any other hobby and using only their truly “disposable” income on getaways, no, it’s definitely not a bad thing! In fact, traveling is good for you! We’ve talked about how traveling makes our kids smarter. We also discussed how traveling with girlfriends is good for our health. Both of those posts were based on scientific studies. What else do experts say, though? Here’s just a small sample of studies that show the benefits of traveling.
- In June of 2019, Syracuse University offered actual medical proof that getting away is good for your heart.
- In 2018, a Finnish study found that taking a vacation could actually prolong your life.
- A 2010 study found that even just looking forward to a vacation could make you happier. In fact, the planning stage brought more bliss than the getaway itself!
As long as your wanderlust doesn’t interfere with your home life, I’d say it’s pretty healthy! Satisfying your obsession with traveling could even help you live a longer life. It’ll definitely help you live a fuller one. So, go ahead and plan your dream vacation (or even just a weekend getaway) and reap the rewards of wanderlust.