It is possible to find in many internet portals some signs to know if you suffer from travel addiction. Some of these websites even refer to this concept as pathological and as an uncontrollable need to escape from the place where the person lives.
Some of these websites even use the term travel addiction as “dromomania” .However, scientific studies seem to indicate that travelling is intimately related to happiness, as it helps us to have pleasant memories and to live new and exciting experiences.
So, does travel addiction really exist? Is travel addiction the same as dromomania? In this article we will answer these questions.
Dromomania: what is it?
Some people confuse travel addiction with dromania, but these two concepts have nothing to do with each other. Being addicted to travel, like any addiction, would have more to do with overstimulating the area of the booster and thereby releasing large amounts of dopamine into the brain. Today, there is no evidence that travel addiction is a disorder, and as I have said, travel promotes people’s well-being.
Now, when we talk about dromomania, some websites cite this phenomenon as traveller’s escape or dissociative escape . So we are indeed referring to a serious disorder, which is included among the dissociative disorders in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Dissociative disorders are pathological conditions characterized by disruptions or failures in memory, consciousness, identity and/or perception.
In other words, these disorders affect the thoughts, feelings and actions of a person , who may suddenly feel an unbearable sadness, for no apparent reason, which lasts for a certain period of time until it disappears. Or, on the other hand, an individual may find himself doing something he would not normally do but is unable to stop, as if someone were forcing him to do it and as if the person were simply a passenger in his own body, unable to master the wheel to steer it in the direction he wants.
According to the DSM-V, dissociative fugue would refer to trips in which the patient leaves his home and does not remember the events of his life . He may abandon his own identity and assume a new reality.
What is travel addiction
As you can see, dromania is very different from what many people consider to be travel addiction. We all know those people who, as soon as they have the possibility to do it, go far away from where they live. They get on the plane and the train and see the world . Whether it is to ski in the mountains, to enjoy the sun in Punta Cana or to set foot in Thailand on their journey to see Asia.
But… is this really bad? These people might want to go to unknown places, hear other languages and get to know new cultures . Of course, it is not a bad thing to have this mentality.
In fact, there is no evidence that travel addiction exists and there is nothing wrong with wanting to travel the world and see the most beautiful and impressive corners of our planet: the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal or Niagara Falls.
When is travel a problem?
Traveling is not a problem, the problem arises when the person who travels is not comfortable with himself and uses travel as a way to avoid the reality that surrounds him. When a person does not enjoy their work, their daily life, or enjoy pleasant activities in the place where they live, they may experience stress or depression and embark on trips that allow them to escape from their reality.
Being on holiday can be the oxygen a person needs for what he considers his sad or bitter life. Travelling in these cases is an attempt to reduce the discomfort and anxiety the person may suffer.
In this sense, the psychoanalyst Magdalena Salamanca, comments to Elle magazine, “the problem arises when the individual does not connect with himself, and feels dissatisfied with his life. He thinks that this way he will feel better.” In other words, these people may seek a refuge on their travels, where the expectations of the departure may keep them motivated despite their bitter daily lives, but the return may lead to post-vacation depression, as it takes them back to the place they hate.
The psychologist and director of this magazine also explains to Elle, “Practically any hobby or activity can become an addiction. However, in the DSM there is no mental illness or travel addiction classified as such. She adds: “Someone may want to escape from their daily routine or to leave a traumatic experience behind , which may lead them to leave situations or places that evoke painful memories. However, in no case is travel the problem in itself, but rather an avoidance behaviour that aims to reduce the pain.
In these cases, it is necessary to seek professional help to improve those areas of the individual’s life in which they are not comfortable or cause them discomfort.
The benefits of travel
Travel, therefore, is not the problem and, in fact, much research concludes that it is key to our mental health. One of them was published in the Journal of Positive Psychology .
- If you want to deepen this study and know more about the benefits of travelling, you can read the article “The 11 psychological benefits of travelling”