Wanderlust – Biological or Environmental?

‘Wanderlust’ appears to be the newest, fancy little word that’s trending amongst the travelling community. Defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘a strong desire to travel’ it’s a quality that many of us claim to have. Like many strong personality traits you might find yourself asking if it is caused by biological or environmental factors, it’s the age old nature vs nurture debate. Are people born with gypsy blood, with the burning desire and longing for far-away places and adventure? Or is this desire influenced by our life experiences and environments.

I went on my first holiday before I was even born, when my pregnant mum and dad went on holiday to Morocco. Every year thereafter until I was 18, we went on a holiday abroad. Back in those days they were all package holidays but we never stayed in all-inclusive resorts, we almost always hired a car and ensured we got out and explored as much of our European destinations as we could, usually Greece, Spain and the like. I spent many British holidays as a child camping and caravanning too, exploring the new forest and sea side towns by bicycle and foot. I never failed to make friends, whether they could speak my language or not! So one could certainly say that these experiences contributed to my unsatisfiable desire to travel and it likely diminished any fear of new or unknown places and making friends.

However, there was always something that little bit different about me and my peers. In primary school I was always so eager to attend every school trip. As we boarded school buses bound for week-long residential adventure camps the children would cry when having to leave their parents and run to the back of the bus to wave their goodbyes. I, on the other hand would be bursting with excitement. Upon returning home, again, the other children would run to the arms of their parents and be happy to be home. Many of them had a hard time really enjoying themselves, there had been tears and they had been really homesick throughout and were probably just happy to be back with their family. I never got homesick though, I always called home because I worried about my family and had anxieties about something happening to them while I wasn’t there, but i just wanted to fill them in on all the exciting things i had been up to. I was always happy to see my mum upon returning home but I’d often cry when I got in the door at the realisation that the trip was over and it was back to routine. Maybe it was obvious back then that my feet would take me to far-away places, upon leaving primary school, our year six teacher signed a dictionary for all of us, mine read “Kara, the world is your oyster and you can achieve anything here”. It also went on to say I would achieve gold in Gymnastics at the Olympics, but that’s beside the point!

In secondary school I continued to attend every school trip my parents could afford to send me on. One year, in sixth form after a trip to Iceland I received a letter of thanks from the school for my enthusiasm and contribution to making the trip an enjoyable one despite certain circumstances. The trip had it’s fair share of cancelled activities due to unforeseen weather conditions. While I was devastated that we couldn’t board a helicopter over to the island of Heimaey and I would have loved to have rode a snowmobile on the glacier, we were in Iceland, a beautifully raw and natural country and I wanted to make the most of our time there! I don’t really know what I did that was so inspiring to my teachers but I do know that my attitude changes completely when I am out of routine and in to the unknown. Teachers would have seen me in a very different light to the classroom, that’s for sure!

Finally when picking a University, I deliberately applied to every one that was beside the sea and turned down a place at the best University in the UK for my course because it was in my home town and I wanted to live somewhere new and different

I think that Wanderlust can 100% be the product of experience and environmental factors and even those who hate to travel can learn to love it. Don’t get me wrong, there were events and circumstances that ultimately made my decision to board that plane easier but I like to believe that some of us were ‘just born with it’, with that passion and desire to explore and have just been waiting for the right time to go with it. Some of us just have that gypsy blood running through our veins.


Where did your wanderlust come from? You decide.


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