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Is traveling natural for mankind? Scientist all over the world have been asking themselves that exact question for a long time now. Because there must be a bigger, more universal reason why men and women of all ages are willing to put themselves through a long and often uncomfortable journey. A journey, during which they spend quite some time in a place they don’t know, surrounded by strangers, who probably are tough to communicate with. A journey during which they will probably spend twice as much money, as they would back at home. So why on Earth would they (we) do that?

MEET THE FIRST TRAVELER IN HISTORY

traveling natural for humans

To understand our irresistible urges to travel, I suggest we use our imagination. Let me tell you a short story. It’s pretty unusual, but just go with me on this one, ok?

Central part of todays Africa, 160 – 180 thousand years ago. The age without tablets and smartphones, an era where there are no trains or hotels, dark times deprived of such useful inventions as boiled water and hygiene. All the people in the world live together in one big settlement. Among them, there is this special guy; let’s call him Andy.

Andy has what in modern times is called “a wife and a bunch of kids”. One day Andy decides to pack up all his things, separate himself and his family from everyone and move.

After his departure, in his tribe there were speculations about why did he do that. Maybe it was because his tribesmen didn’t shower often enough? Or maybe he wasn’t satisfied with the accomodation? Got bored of local cuisine?

Either way, Andy leaves for good, moving to a quieter, less crowded neighbourhood. After a couple of years, Andy sends a postcard to his best friend (Mark), that reads: “Wish you were here”. Mark doesn’t understand the metaphor (probably because it is set in stone) and decides to join Andy. But, since it’s prehistoric times and no one bothered to invent GPS systems yet – Mark gets lost. He’s looking for Andy and his family for half a decade but finally he gets tired and he decides to settle in a cosy valley on the west coast of Pangaea and make a career as a professional groundcover collector. Somehow he becomes famous in his hometown and a lot of young and ambitious tribesmen follows Marc’s lead, settling in the Valley. And that’s basically how I imagine the beginning of Historical Migrations.

THE TRAVEL GENE

traveling natural for humans

Whether it’s true or not, scientists did analyze the remains of some of the oldest people on earth that were found at least a couple of hundreds miles away from the African savannahs and they discovered that their DNA has a higher density of one particular gene that might be called “the travel gene”.

Looking back to our story, the travel gene was probably one of the reasons why Andy decided to move and Mark to follow his steps. People, who find pleasure in traveling, those, who can’t wait to go on the next journey, who are ready to spend their last money on a trip, might have this gene and it might be dominating over their willingness to stay at home and enjoy the peace and quiet.

The interesting thing is also that the same set of genes is responsible for taking risks. Which seems just about right, since going to different places is pretty strongly connected with taking risk. Especially if the chosen destination is really exotic or if it varies significantly in terms of culture or language (read how you can try to manage in such a place).

TRAVELING VS. NATIONALITY

traveling natural for humans

But that’s not all. Have you ever wondered, why some nationalities  travel more than others? Sure, a country’s economy as well as people’s wealth have a lot to do with a nations capacity to travel. And let’s not forget the statistics – obviously the more citizens, the more travelers among them. But there is also one other thing. In immigrant societies the average of travelers is significantly higher. Think about it for a second – immigrants are more likely to have the traveling gene in them and they pass it onto their children. The society grows, there are more and more immigrants and with time, this society becomes a society that enjoys traveling. The most obvious example of this phenomenon are USA citizens. For an average American it is not a problem to change the city or even the state, for example if they are offered a good job. Compared to some other nations they are really mobile.

It would appear that traveling is truly natural if not to mankind in general, then to some of the people. So now you don’t have to apologize for wanting to go on another trip instead of remodeling your kitchen (even though the tap is constantly leaking and your refrigerator is louder than your neighbour’s singstar party). Luckily, we’re not living in stone age, so you can use technology in your travels. For example, Peter tested out some cool apps, that will most definitely prove useful on the trip. And wherever you are, don’t forget to share.travel!
traveling natural for humans

PHOTO CREDIT
Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Retlaw Snellac via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc