The Well-Traveled Path: Healthline’s Jenny Yu on Benefits of Exploration

Hello, I am Dr Jenny Yu, Health Line‘s Medical Expert and Lonely Planet Travel Health Expert. Welcome to my column, where each week I will share stories and ideas, experiences and opportunities, and perspectives on how you can go the “right” way in your travels.

The start of 2022 looks less festive than other years as the world grapples with a new wave of COVID-19 cases. All traditions and rituals of resolutions and goals are muted. The new variant caused a lot of stressful travel scenarios during the holiday season: canceled travel plans, unexpected road trips and even stuck somewhere longer than expected. But if 2021 has taught us anything, it’s to always have a contingency plan in our back pocket.

The next 6-8 weeks of this New Year will be a difficult time for everyone. The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly and is expected to peak in mid-January in the United States. With the increase in the number of new cases, the disruption to our lives will again be evident. This will be the third year of this pandemic and even the most optimistic of us are feeling the fatigue. The stress of dealing with acute changes – new regulations, statistics and warnings – in addition to the chronic and constant backdrop of the past 2 years will test our patience and test our mental well-being.

What are your proven methods of resting, reconnecting, and restoring? Either way, I hope it incorporates the type of exploration that helps stimulate your senses. As we learn to experience the different phases of this new virus, our mental well-being also requires attention. The benefits of exploration – a nature hike, a walk through the countryside, or a getaway to retirement – will last. Travel as a remedy for stress is proven. Yes, it does take a little more planning now, but definitely use it as a way to log out.

In response, the travel industry is embracing the work-meet-play approach. A recent WSJ article highlighted the trend of working holidays, which can be here to stay. So I have high hopes for 2022. Our lives are not going back to what they were, because in many ways this pandemic has taught us the lesson to find a balance in our day to day lives. When we focus less on the number of cases, shifting regulations and canceled plans, we will hopefully have incorporated new habits into our diet, fitness, sleep, and a renewed meaning to explore. Let us reset.


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Richard V. Johnson