Wikipedia defines Dromomania, also known as travelling fugue, as the uncontrollable psychological urge to wander. The term comes from the Greek: dromos (running) and mania (insanity) and is not new in terms of a medical diagnosis. It turns out that one of the most modern psychological diseases of our century was given its name in 1886 after the French locksmith Jean-Albert Dadas returned from his journey from France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Austria. After that he was hospitalized and the doctors were surprised to find out that his most serious problems were his psychological issues and not the physical exhaustion caused by his travels. Dadas couldn’t remember where he had been or what he was doing in those countries and became the first patient of dromomania. Given this diagnosis, doctors documented that people with this condition would spontaneously depart from their routine, travel long distances and take up different identities and occupations. Months could pass before they returned to their former identities. Today, in the common English vernacular, this is often rendered simply as “wanderlust” and although dromomania does imply a psychological compulsion, it’s usually on one’s own and often without one’s conscious knowledge rather than a more generalized desire to travel.
Although I’ve never taken on a new identity or been gone for months without remembering why or where I was, I am certain that I have been afflicted with Dromomania for quite a few years now. More similar to an addiction really, tourism and travel are like drugs to me – once I started experiencing all that they had to offer, I needed more and simply stopping is not an option. In fact, my bucket list grows longer every day and my need to fill it more urgent as the years pass. So, if you’re like me and you spend all of your free time traveling, planning travel, or just daydreaming about your next destination, I have news for you – you may be a closet dromomaniac too.
Do you suffer from Dromomania?
Check out this list of symptoms and make your own determination.
1. Your suitcase is always half full and you have a toiletry bag ready to go.
2. Your greatest (or only) motivation to work is making more money for your journeys.
3. You know one or more of the TSA Agents at your local airport by name.
4. You have more friends abroad than in your own country.
5. You are usually planning your next adventure before coming home from the current one.
6. Waking up in your own bed at home often feels strange.
7. Your home is full of souvenirs from all over the world.
9. You would rather read a travel guide than a New York Times best seller.
10. Thinking of spending the weekend at home provokes anything from mild depression to a severe panic attack.
11. Not having a trip on the calendar feels almost like a death sentence.
If you found out that you or someone you love had a few or all of these symptoms, don’t worry. Dromomaniacs are really nothing more than fun loving, free spirited nomads who are always ready to hit the road and leave their comfortable lives for an adventure or new experience. I/they mean no one harm or neglect. Quite the opposite actually, we usually want to spread the joy and love the company of friends and loved ones.
If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that you may be a dromomaniac and you didn’t even realize it. Or maybe you sensed it all along and are just relieved to find out your obsession with wanderlust has a real medical diagnosis. My advice…..don’t seek medical attention and don’t fight it! If you need a support group, you can contact me. If you need a travel partner, you can contact me as well.