So what do you call a person whose wanderlust simply becomes insatiable? Simply put; a travel addict and that’s a real thing. “Vagabond neurosis” or “dromomania” is an impulse disorder defined as “an extreme form of psychological problem associated with travelling” by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
In an article on travel addiction by Eliot Stein, Conde Nast Traveller cites the curious case of one Jean-Albert Dadas, who during the Sino-French War wandered through Europe having left the French army, and finally made his way to a hospital in Bordeaux with no recollection of his travels. Psychaitrics came to diagnose Dadas with “dromomania”.
Those found to be suffering from vagabond neurosis or dromomania are said to have an “abnormal impulse to travel; they are prepared to spend beyond their means, sacrifice jobs, lovers and security in their lust for new experiences”.
Speaking to Dr Daniel Epstein, however, Thrillist calls the notion of being a one being addicted to travel was called into question, with the psychotherapist being quoted as saying: “Travel might be more along the line of obsessive, but there’s no evidence that it’s a legitimate addiction because it has no neurological element of instant gratification.”
While the jury may be out for some, Maggie Parker, a self-proclaimed travel addict, wrote in the New York Post that her travels are followed by extreme lows upon her return home, even if said travels had no purpose other than to travel. In the article, she speaks to cognitive science specialist Dr Art Markman, who is quoted as saying: “If you don’t feel that your life is unmanageable, despite your real need to travel, then you are probably just at the extreme end of a continuum that includes lots of travellers.”