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20 Things Only People Who Are Born To Travel Will Understand

July 25, 2015

Scientific discovery has announced the official finding of the “Wanderlust Gene,” an actual genetic mutation that gives around 20% of the population an insatiable desire for traveladventure, and new discoveries. Of course, there is a huge element of nurture involved as well as nature, but for those who hold DRD4-7R, the genetic variant of a gene that affects behavior motivation, nature has already put in place a predisposition to constantly seek out travel.

For those of us who were born with this yearning for travel and exploration, we’ve never needed science to validate the feeling that somehow we’re a little different, and we’re not alone in our differences. The feeling that there is a whole tribe of fellow travelers out in the world, all rushing forward with their passports in hand. When we meet each other along the way, it’s like meeting a long lost sibling or someone who is a little like a soulmate.  As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain:

“Are not all lifelong friendships born at the moment when at last you meet another human being who has some inkling (but faint and uncertain even in the best) of that something which you were born desiring, and which, beneath the flux of other desires and in all the momentary silences between the louder passions, night and day, year by year, from childhood to old age, you are looking for, watching for, listening for?”

For those 20% of us with the wanderlust gene, we might not know what we look for, but we know how to search: by packing up our bag and traveling the globe. When we find someone else with that same wanderlust, a fellow traveler who spent their entire childhood looking at maps or got their passport the moment they turned 18, we recognize what only born travelers understand.

And that’s because it’s not just the yearning to travel that brings us together. Its a long list of common interests, personality quirks, and traits that only born travelers have and understand.

20 Things People Who Are Born To Travel Will Understand

1. You Are On the Lookout for Friends

Those who travel quickly realize that life is constantly transitioning. Nothing is permanent, and you learn to appreciate what is while looking forward to what is yet to come. People you haven’t meet yet are simply friends waiting to be made. You will never be without friends, because there are always new friends to be made. You walk around with the mindset that every stranger you meet has the potential to become a great story about how you met your best friend.

2. You Have an Active Imagination

Because no wanderlust bug or travel itch will ever be completely fulfilled, you’ve learned to take enjoyment out of every stage of everything that resembles traveling and going. You enjoy browsing through last minute plane ticket sales because even if you can’t travel right now, you can imagine the places you’d go to and what you’d do there. You can enjoy other’s travel stories vicariously and let your imagination soar to other places, opportunities, and stories of your own. By opening yourself up to imagination, you are able to travel even if you’re stuck in one place for the immediate future.

3. You start Stories The Same Way 99% of the Time

Listen to yourself the next time you start a conversation at dinner or chime in on small talk. Most of us who are born travelers drop the phrase, “When I was in…” at the start of your stories. That’s because you love traveling; those are the moments that stick with you and make you feel alive. Placement is important to you because it gives context to the story. When you hear other’s travel stories, you want to know where because you associate it with what you already know and have seen at that same place. You map out your stories the way you map out your travels. It all makes the world connected.

4. You are Fearless

Most people have to be encouraged to leave their comfort zone. You have no idea what this means, but it sounds fun! The safety of staying at home seems much more dangerous than the problems you might occur out in the world. The perils that come with traveling are no more a small blimp on your radar, because there are other, more important adventures waiting to be had.

Besides, the cheapest places are often the ones where it is most dangerous to travel. My college buddies and I scored super cheap tickets to Colombia the week after it was moved to into the top 3 places US Citizens shouldn’t travel to. People freaked out a bit, but it was an amazing trip we never would have experienced had we been freaking out the whole time.

5. You Are a Problem Solver

Your common sense is your guide- it’s why nothing phases you when potential threats are mentioned from other non-travelers, and how you are able to accomplish so much traveling. You seem to be born being able to rationalize and make decisions on the go, taking into consideration the variables of your circumstance. Whether you are trying to decide which tram to get on in Amsterdam to reach Prague the cheapest yet scenic way, or how to find your way in a strange part of Tokyo at 1:00 am, you are able to use common sense to work your way out of the problem.

6. But You’re Also Impractical

As much common sense as you have, you have on massive glaring blind spot. You will and can justify traveling no matter what how much your schedule, bank account, or significant other might say otherwise. You can always find a tiny trip or justify the added expense or layover if it means getting to see a new part of the globe. So what if next weekend you’re flying across the country? You still have time to go on an impromptu road trip this weekend!

7. You’ve Always Aced Geography

The idea of someone not knowing where different countries and continents are in the world, or worse yet, mixing them up, makes you cringe inside and wonder why education has so clearly failed so much of humanity. You love maps and can instantly place a location that someone mentions within 200 miles of the correct location in a mental map in your head.

As a little kid I remember pouring for hours over a world atlas in the library, complete with photos and descriptions of different cultures and kids around the globe. I never had to study extra for geography exams, and playing the board game Ticket to Ride was torture when a PHD confused the Alps for the Rocky Mountains.

8. You Are a Born Planner

No matter how up for anything and spontaneous you may be, you have a streak of planning in you. You get a rush off of packing your bag, planning a trip, and booking a flight. You may not plan anything else in life, and you may not have every day to day itinerary itemized, but you love to make travel plans.

9. You are an Optimist

I don’t think I have ever come across a born traveler who was pessimistic. That’s  because to receive true joy and fulfillment from traveling, you need to be the kind kind of person who thrives off of the future, who can find the positive in the potential to outlive whatever negative situation has arisen.

The greatest road trip stories never begin, “So I hopped in my brand new Prius with a flawless GPS and a full tank of gas to drive safely across town….” The great stories begin with broken down cars and the unknown ahead. When you’re an optimist, you can survive the rough times because you can see the silver lining of a great story being born. The details of the present dark times never get you down long enough to not appreciate the trip, which is why you will always look forward to traveling, no matter how rough it may be.

When my hubby and I set out to move to a place 2,000 miles away we’d never been before, we hauled an RV in the country’s worst snowstorm with a rusted out truck that wasn’t built to carry half that weight and with a GPS system that decided to take us off the freeway and right through a national park system of dirt roads and mountain climbing single track lanes instead. We have a great story now, but if we weren’t optimistic to see the humor in getting 3 flat tires in a snowstorm on a mountain in Arizona we wouldn’t have survived it.

10. You are Always Asking Questions

Your curiosity comes off as friendliness, but you earnestly do want to hear about other’s travels, stories, and adventures. You research different things of interest and enjoy questioning others about their experiences. You want to know more about things that catch your interest, and your curiosity is neverending. When you do ask questions, they aren’t simply polite questions but genuine questions out of a real interest in the answer.

11. You have street smarts

You may not always say the right thing or make the right move, but you have a good head on your shoulders and know how to use it. As with most travelers, you pick up on other’s social cues and the atmosphere of wherever you are. You have a sixth sense about situations and people, and use it to navigate around unfamiliar territory when you are traveling. This is one way that you are fearless, because you know you can rely on yourself to navigate new places and social settings.

12. You Are a Go-Getter

You don’t sit around waiting for life to come to you. You go out and make travel happen. You seek out travel deals, you introduce yourself when you meet people, and you take the leap of faith to leave something familiar for something new. That same sense of optimism that makes life seem full of possibilities is coupled with the spirit to go grab those opportunities.

13. You are Good at Board Games

You have a deductive ability and sense of fun that makes you naturally good at board games. These same abilities translate in your ability to travel well. You enjoy the challenge of Tetris and own at it the same way you can pack one backpack for an entire 3 month long journey across Europe. The same mental deduction and you use in Mastermind is also used when you are figuring out the Eurorail train route map that’s only printed in a foreign language. Your logical reasoning and persuasion you use in Risk and Monopoly is the same set of skills you use when  bartering between two different types of currency with a street vender. You love it and thrive off of it, and get the same rush from board games as you do the first time you step off the train into a new city you’ve never seen before.

14. Your Inbox Primarily Consists of Subscriptions and Spam

Yes, you have the occasional e-mail reminder to get file your taxes this year and social media update, but the majority of your inbox purges are subscriptions to airlines, the latest updates from your favorite travel blogs, and the latest deal for frequent flier miles.

15. You can Laugh at Yourself

Nobody’s perfect, least of all you. You don’t see life as a showcase of yourself, but rather as a chance to learn more about life and constantly explore. If you screw up, that makes sense; you learn from it and move on. You see life as a continual development and look forward to learning and experiencing more. You don’t take yourself too seriously because you are too seriously into everything else out in the world. You already know yourself- let’s get on to the things outside and into other people instead.

16. You are Up for Anything

The very gene that makes you up for the unknown means you’re up for just about anything that doesn’t offend your beliefs. Plans can change and that’s ok. People can have new ideas and you’ll try to work them in. You plan, but plans are flexible and always changing- and that’s a good thing!

17. You Love to Learn

Your personal library might not be large, but there are definitely more adventure stories, travel memoirs, and map books than any other category combined. You always know where the travel section in the library is, and you’ve tried to learn at least one foreign language on your own. You suggest new books to friends, and are always eager to pick up a new suggestion or check out the book you saw someone else carrying around that had a good cover on it.

(For fellow born travelers: Check out Born to Run, one of my all time favorite books. And yes, Eat Pray Love is fantastic. Into the Wild– obvious must. Lydia Bailey is crazy old and crazy wonderful. And- ok, maybe epic travel books should be on a whole different post entirely….)

18. You Don’t Understand Some People

As eager as you are to meet new people and love becoming friends with them, sometimes you just don’t understand where other people are coming from. Who doesn’t jump out and get their passport the day they turn 18? Wait, some people don’t use all of their vacation days? Who doesn’t enjoy long flights with multiple layovers?

I’ll never forget the day my hubby turned down the idea of buying two last minute round trip plane tickets to Istanbul for only $500. I love him so much but my brain still can’t quite comprehend who in the world doesn’t justify that as an immediate need. For real. If he wasn’t so sexy I might have needed therapy.

19. You are Flexible

You don’t need to have the perfect bed to fall asleep on. You can and have slept under airport chairs, in trains, and regularly camp out on an entire row of airplane seats. You can eat breakfast, or skip it when you’re running low on funds. You run with it and learn to adapt and keep going.

20. You love to read this post

Last of all, you know you are a born traveler when you read posts and articles like this all the way to the end.

No one but born travelers would read this post and feel it resonate within themselves. If your Wanderlust gene is kicking it into high gear right now, head on over to Treckeffect to start planning that next trip out into the world. Embrace who you are and move out into life! I’m sure we’ll meet each other along the way, and I can’t wait to meet you, friend.

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Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.