Addicted to Travel? – You May Suffer From Dromomania

An image of myself walking between borders in Eastern AfricaUntil recently I’d never come across the term Dromomania, and those that know me would ask the question, ‘Why would he?’. As my command of the English language is questionable at the best of times. Dromomania is a word that certainly doesn’t come about in everyday conversation, and I stumbled across it whilst researching the net for another post I am piecing together. The term is derived from the Greek words dromos meaning running, and mania meaning insanity. In it’s purest sense, it’s a medical condition that’s used to describe individuals that are spontaneously driven to wander long distances by what seem to be irresistible and uncontrollable impulses.

These wanderings almost always come with bouts of amnesia, and people can often take on new identities in the process. Dissociative Fugue is another term for this condition, and it’s also been described as ‘Mad Travelers’ disease.

During my time in India many years ago, I came across my fair share of ‘Mad Travelers’, but these individuals were not suffering from Dromomania, but the direct result of one acid trip to many.

Dromomania – Sometimes Referred To As Mad Travelers Disease

Generally speaking, the term is sometimes used to describe people who have a strong emotional or sometimes even physical need to be constantly traveling and experiencing new places. It becomes a form of addiction and often at the expense of others around them, including both friends and family. I was starting to wonder a little about myself, and if I suffer from a slight case of Dromomania. I can definitely remember my last adventure, so there’s definitely no amnesia there, but I do have an uncontrollable urge to visit new places, and I rarely visit the same place twice.

During my early travels throughout twenties, I had an uncontrollable urge to keep moving, never spending to long in the one place, and to see as much as possible.

I’ve always had an urge to see what’s over the next hill, or around the next bend. I get a real buzz out of being somewhere different, a place that I have not yet seen and with endless possibilities to explore. The thrill of hitting the streets in a new city or town, always encapsulates me. It was the unknown that was driving me, and if I did make a return visit to a place, it almost always coincides with travel to some other destination I have yet to explore.

A Travel Addiction – An Uncontrollable Urge To Wander

Don’t get me wrong though, when I do return to places I’ve been before, it’s quite comforting to know how the system works. The best place to change money, how the local transport system works (if there is one). Things are a whole lot easier when returning to a place you are familiar with, and I suppose that’s why we all (or most of us anyway) enjoy coming home, to those all familiar surroundings.

After reading the description of Dromomania and thinking about it’s meaning, I then began to wonder about the hardcore travelers that Ive been writing about in my Travel Legends posts.

If I believe I may have a slight case of Dromomania, then people such as Peter & Kay Forward and Heinz Stücke are seriously affected by this phenomenon. That is why I’ve decided from this point on, to aptly rename the series from the ‘Travel Legends’ to the ‘Dromomaniac Society’. I will continue scowl the Internet for auspicious characters that fit my reckoning of a true Dromomaniac, and will induct people via a post on their wanderings. Who knows, in 10-20 years time, I may even induct myself?


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Jason has traveled the world extensively during the last 20 years, with overland journeys on six continents and across over 90 countries. This site serves as a chronicle of the images and tales from these journeys, as well as offering advice and general information for other like minded travelers.

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  • Steve

    What an interesting condition. This is something I’ve never heard about. I think you should change your title to the Dromomaniac Society. It has an interesting ring to it.

  • Jason

    I kind of like the name as well. It just popped into my head as soon as I started reading about Dromomania. Sort of sums up the people I write about perfectly I think. Thanks for your comment.

  • Aaron

    Thanks for bringing light to this peculiar condition. Reading your definition of it makes me think I might be ever-so-slightly Dromomania(c?)…. I too feel this incessant need to explore new places and hate returning to old ones unless I have a special attachment to them. Though that’s usually because they rarely live up to the romanticized memories I have in my head!

    Maybe we should start Dromomaniacs Anonymous or something…

  • Jason

    Thanks for stopping by Aaron. I agree with you regarding having a special attachment to somewhere before returning. I have a few of these places or regions of the world, I will always love to return to. I like the name Dromomaniacs Anonymous, and no doubt there are a few that have borrowed heavily to feed there travel addictions that may need some therapy.

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