Sometimes we travel because we have to; perhaps we need to spend Christmas with relatives who live on the other side of the world or we have meetings in cities that aren’t our own. But most travel isn’t involuntary. Instead, we travel because we want to or because we want to explore someplace new. Because work is too much and we need an escape. Because we got a good deal on flights. Because we want to see April in Paris.
But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Can this urge to fill in maps and charter new territory lead to an actual addiction? Is there such a thing as a compulsive urge to wander?
“In rare instances, yes, there is,” says Dr Michael Brein, a social psychologist who specializes
in travel and intercultural communication. “I know and have met many people, some of whom seemed to live to travel in such a manner that they could conceivably get themselves in trouble, for, say, running out of money.”
I am not an expert on addiction, much less travel addiction. But I do know how great it feels to embark on a trip, of any length or complexity. I can get as excited about a drive up to nearby Yosemite, as I can about three weeks in Southeast Asia. It is something fun to do, it breaks the daily routine, and I know I get new experiences, and knowledge.
The definition of addiction, in the medical world goes like this: Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. The activity referred to traditionally would be gambling, eating or working. Could it apply to travel?
First, I sincerely doubt is causes psychological or physical harm, unless repeated trips to dangerous places dominate the travel agenda. But I think it can cause damage to personal finances, professional career, or personal life. Travel is expensive, and time consuming. It can detract from many daily and life responsibilities.
But I do think that many people are hooked on their devices, like smart phones, video games, and televisions. I try to limit my phone usage, but it has become my main communication device. It has my calendar, my phone numbers, my emails and email addresses, music, photos, and search engine. It also stores much of my travel information, like hotel reservation, flights, and car rentals.
Nothing conclusive here, but I would like to hear some of your thoughts. About the closest I have come to an addiction: golf, and good champagne, not necessarily in that order!
Traveler or Tourist?