May 082014


“Dromomania, also traveling fugue, is an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander. People with this condition spontaneously depart from their routine, travel long distances and take up different identities and occupations. Months may pass before they return to their former identities.”


“True dromomaniacs are obsessed with travel and are always planning their next trip or making sudden preparations to flee. Like a gambler or arsonist, they feel a build-up of pressure and anxiety that is only satiated once a certain task is performed. In a dromomaniac’s case, when they have bought their ticket and their plane is in the air (editor’s note: or van on the road or pack on their back). Once back home the cycle begins again.”

The Globe and Mail, Kira Vermond

 “Jesus had dromomania, evident from his frequent traveling from Nazareth. “

an unnamed group of French psychiatrists

I don’t think I’m comfortable with calling a passion for travel a “mania”. And I don’t think anybody else is either as I’m almost sure you’ve never even heard of this “condition”. And yet I’m sure you know someone like this. My own passion for travel is verifiably intense. It expressed itself in my twenties as an impulsive and radical frequent changing of not only where I was, but also who I was and what I was doing with my life. It’s matured into carefully planned (though frequently long and life changing) excursions, quests even, with very few casualties of safety or responsibilities. But it’s still a very very present and constant drive.

I would have taken it out of the “uncontrollable impulse” file of my brain, except that 3 weeks ago, my mother suddenly passed away. I was just pulling into the parking lot at work when I got the call from my stepfather. Once I felt it was possible to safely drive again, this was my impulsive reaction to my mother’s death. I drove home, grabbed only my coffee and filters, and started driving away. Moving quickly through time and space NOW seemed like the only thing that would alleviate the intensity I was feeling. And it worked somewhat until I got my wits about me (with the help of some loving friends) and returned home to more carefully plan out how I would join my family back in Arizona, which involved some changes of clothing and an airplane ticket. But that initial reaction provided me a window of insight into my relationship with travel.

Travel changes things. Always. At least for me. It brings me back to my center of being alive without the identifications of career, relationships, and geography. It’s the epitome of personal solidarity as it provides zero routines or familiarities to rely upon. Feeling personally solid is an important state for me to be in to feel happy and alive. Feeling personally solid would help me immensely with the news of my mother’s death. And traveling brings me there rather quickly.

Am I a “maniac” because I use travel to heal, find joy, and feel alive in this world? I could think of worse things….




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  4 Responses to “Dromomania”

  1. Wow! I had no idea your Mom died! Aarrggh! I found that experience devastating…sending loving thoughts…

  2. My heart goes out to you for the loss of your mother.

  3. I, too, am a maniac! Best therapy EVER!

  4. Great word isn’t it?!
    Nurture it . . .
    Sorry to hear about your mum.
    ~ Fozzie

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