Hi, I’m Dr. Jenny Yu, Healthline’s Medical Expert and Lonely Planet Travel Health Expert. Welcome to my column, where each week I’ll share stories and insights, experiences and opportunities, and perspectives on how you can take the "well" traveled path in your journeys. 

I am ready to leave 2021 behind. Travel in 2021 felt very much like a game⁠—any plans had to align with COVID-19 infection rates and travel restrictions so as not to risk cancellation. Some of us were fortunate enough to have traveled domestically and even internationally: returning home, visiting loved ones, or checking off a bucket list trip. Others, less fortunate, have a lifetime of stories detailing cancellations, quarantines and restrictions. 

Regardless, 2022 provides a fresh start to re-imagine what travel can mean during this time. The monotony of working and staying at home certainly has us all seeking new experiences⁠—experiences that serve to rekindle our curiosity about the world. Technology provides us with so many conveniences, but most people would agree that after 2 years of connecting virtually, nothing will replace in-person connection: learning from strangers, experiencing a new culture, and sharing a meal together. 

Healthline: ‘Zoom Fatigue’ Is Real — Here’s How to Cope

Travel fuels my intellectual curiosity, disconnects me from the day-to-day, and replenishes my sense of well-being. I am certainly not alone in feeling that travel improves my feelings of wellness—a recent Wellness Travel Association (WTA) survey highlighted a general  desire to focus more on self-care. Some of the top priorities for people looking to travel in 2022 were safety, cleanliness, access to stillness and quiet spaces, and nature. 

Two seniors walk happily through a forest.
More and more people are enjoying the outdoors © vorDa / Getty Images

Reflecting on these past two years has certainly given us much food for thought. Wellness travel was a growing trend even prior to the pandemic. Given our experiences during the pandemic, we are all exploring our own journey into staying well. Many of us are reimagining our surroundings, our lifestyle, and our purpose. 

Travel will be part of that journey. With the focus on the environment, on learning about other cultures, and on self-care, the industry is adapting to our new travel values. The demand for experiences that heighten our senses will continue, as will our demand for better health and environmental standards.

As we head into the holiday season and final days of  2021, many of us are still reeling from the rollercoaster-like pandemic experience. As we reflect on what matters to us, many have made the choice to take better care of themselves⁠—will you? 

Healthline: How to Safely Plan a Holiday Gathering During the Omicron Wave

For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.

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