What is dopamine travel?

What makes you a happy traveller?

Boost your happy hormones whilst on holiday with dopamine travel.

Borrowed from the fashion trend of dopamine dressing — wearing bright colours in the hope that the cheerful hues will rub off on your mood — dopamine travellers surround themselves with positively-stimulating sights, scents and sounds.

Dopamine travel is more about mindfulness than destination. This type of travel works for everyone, just about anywhere: adventure travellers pushing their limits in exotic locales; foodies whangjangling their tastebuds with new textures and flavours; music lovers in a mosh pit or front-and-centre for the Ring cycle.

Read on for some dopamine destinations for all types of budgets.

Sights: rhapsody in blue and green

Nothing beats the winter blues than a visit to Chefchaouen, Morocco’s Blue Diamond. Explore the azure alleys of the Medina, sample the local bread and tagines, or visit the carpet markets. For outdoorsy types, Chefchaoen is built at the base of two mountains, which make up part of the Rif mountain range. Travellers can stroll, hike, bike or ride a donkey on paths that wind past natural springs, caves and streams.

Budget version: wander through your local arboretum whilst listening to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Scents: metallic with a hint of teenager bedroom

High-dollar olfactory holidays are a no-brainer: the French Toast-y aroma of northeastern Madagascar, where vanilla is produced; the spicy-smoky-sweet aroma of Old Delhi’s spice market. Provence in spring.

Budget travellers can give their noses a treat with a smellwalk in their own neighbourhood. Researcher Dr Kate McLean maps smellscapes of cities. Her research shows that each place has a distinct noseprint, some elements of which change throughout the day.

Amateur smellers don’t need to be part of a research team to download her Smellfie Kit, which helps users locate and categorise the scents they whiff. But the only gear you really need for a smellwalk is the tool attached to your face. Start out simple: 10 or 15 minutes. Begin with an overall impression: good? bad? Really bad? Can you smell the weather? Does it smell like snow or petrichor or ozone?

Explore more specific smells. (Word of warning: prepare for some funny looks) What does the smell of tree bark remind you of? Do all trees smell the same? When do you begin to smell the dog poo you spotted at twenty paces? Are the smells from the coffee shop at war with those emanating from the kebab shop? Which ones are winning?

Training your nose to ‘pay attention’ locally translates to an even better experience for your next smelliday.


I was once lucky enough to catch Wagner’s entire ‘Ring’ twice in a single summer. It was amazing! Between performances I had heavy brass earworming in my head. Bayreuth may not be your bag, but there’s something about a live show that boosts the spirits.

Going to a gig doesn’t have to blow your budget. Free concerts are happening all around you: at the farmer’s market, in a church, at your subway stop. Sometimes in the flat right above you!

Dopamine travel may be a trendy term, but the takeaway is timeless: travel happy.

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battleface editor Sasha Gayer
battleface magazine editor Sasha is a writer and amateur palaeontologist from New Orleans. When not writing or digging dinosaurs, she teaches English.