Today I came across an article on The Manual called "Are You A Travel Addict? According To Science, It's A Very Real Phenomenon." The article discusses how in this day and age, travel is much easier and much more affordable than it has ever been. That, plus all the tantalizing photos of exotic locales crossing our vision on social media, has played a part in creating the actual psychological disorder known as "dromomania" or or "vagabond neurosis" in some people.
I think I can understand the addictive qualities of travel, although I would never risk my job or relationships for it. When I was younger, I did quite a bit of traveling. As a child, I mainly went with my family on road trips to different cities in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Colorado during summer vacations. But these trips became an expected part of the year. They gave me something to look forward to when life got boring. It was always so much fun and so refreshing to not only get away from the humdrum of daily life, but also to see new places and experience new adventures.
As I grew older and more independent, and I traveled by myself by airplane (also a thrill) to see friends in states like California, Arkansas, Kansas, and even Canada. Right before my senior year, I went with my dad to England (London and Exeter) on a business trip, which was one of the happiest weeks of my life. I still get out the pictures every now and then as a nostalgic pick-me-up and hope I can go back someday.
Then, when I graduated from college, everything changed. I was on my own for the first time, having rented a little house, and having to work two jobs just to pay the bills. And although I was thrilled to finally be independent and taking care of myself, the traveling stopped. It stopped for several years, in fact, and I can tell you, I really missed it. Each year, I genuinely felt the itch to get up and go somewhere new. You could almost say I went through withdrawal as I experienced a sort of mild depression from feeling chained to my responsibilities and finances.
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I began to travel again, first to Eureka Springs, then to New York, and this summer, to Santa Fe - all new places I'd never been before. I started to feel much more relieved and happier. Now that I'm in a place financially where I can afford to take these yearly trips, I have something exciting to look forward to again.
Aside from the novelty of visiting new places and the relief of temporarily escaping from responsibilities, I also feel like I grow as a person every time I travel. My mind has opened in ways that I don't think it would have if I had only stayed in one place all my life. Because of these vacations, I've been able to spend time with awesome people and experience things with them that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to experience.
So, yes, I totally get it; however, I don't think I'm at the level of having a genuine addiction. Sometimes just watching a movie or reading a book that takes me to another place in my mind can be enough to satisfy that urge. And I think that's how most people are. But it is interesting to know that there are genuine addicts out there these days who risk the security of their lives to get out on the open road. I guess anything can be addicting.
What are your thoughts about travel addiction? Do you think you've ever experienced it to any degree? Do you have to get out of town once a year or more in order to scratch the travel itch? Please feel free to leave a comment.