For the Love of Travel

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I’ve always wondered why some people have such a pressing desire to “see the world.” Recently, I stumbled upon the work of Dr. Michael Brein, who has developed a sort of “psychology of travel.”

I have always loved to travel. Seeing new things, meeting new people, exposing myself to different lands, customs, and most especially viewing magnificent landscapes is a particularly fulfilling experience for me. Unfortunately, the various other demands of life and perhaps my own lack of commitment have kept me from doing as much traveling as I might prefer. Now that I’m in retirement and face certain other life challenges, I’m more determined than ever to travel.

I’ve always wondered why some people have such a pressing desire to “see the world.” Recently, I stumbled upon the work of Dr. Michael Brein, who has developed a sort of “psychology of travel.” Although there is no formal science devoted to the study of travel, Dr. Brein has compiled a primer on why people feel the urge to travel and how to make the most of every exploratory experience. He has a website at michaelbrein.com.

Dr. Brein has some thoughts on what drives people to explore the world and to find so much satisfaction in travel:

Self-esteem enhancement.
Brein believes we can enhance the image we have of ourselves when we make a break from our “ordinary” and mundane lives to pursue adventure. Identifying in some way with persons, places, and things that interest and inspire us helps us to feel more accomplished and vital.
Satisfying higher-order needs.
Brein suggests that most travelers have their basic needs for food, shelter, etc. fairly well planned for and get their real satisfaction from satisfying their needs for knowledge, wisdom, adventure, and communion with nature as well as other peoples and cultures.
Curiosity.
Perhaps nothing is as fundamental to the thinking animal than learning new things and finding meaning in experience. Brein considers the thirst for novelty, adventure, and excitement fundamental human traits.
Peak experience.
Brein believes that the all the sensory stimulation, sights, sounds, and even smells associated with travel produce the ultimate natural “high.”
Re-connecting and re-validating.
When we travel to lands from which our descendants came, we are able to re-connect to the past in a very unique way. Further, once we put closure on one of our adventures, we inherently validate the life we otherwise lead when we are not traveling.
Satisfaction of the romantic in us.
Brein believes not only that travel satisfies our romantic urges but also that a careful balance must be found between the degree to which we challenge ourselves to face the unknown and our tolerance for uncertainty and even danger. For example, one person might regard it as the thrill of a lifetime to ride the rapids of a fast-flowing river, whereas another might find the experience emotionally draining. So, we have to be in good contact with our romantic side and very aware of both our greatest fears and desires.

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For a variety of important personal reasons, I have promised myself to do more traveling in the next few years. It’s not so much that I want to “see it all” but to experience at least a fair amount of the world’s offerings and to savor the moments well. My picture is on the web in many places, including this post. If you see me walking in your neighborhood, I’d appreciate a friendly wave and “hello.”

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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