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. 

The start of 2022 feels less celebratory than in other years as the world grapples with another surge of COVID-19 cases. All of the traditions and rituals of resolutions and goals are muted. The new variant caused many stressed travel scenarios to play out during the holiday season: cancelled travel plans, unexpected road trips, and even getting stuck somewhere longer than intended. But if 2021 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 prove to be a challenging time for all. The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and is likely to peak mid-January in the US. With new cases surging, the disruption to our lives will be evident once again. It will be the third year of this pandemic and even the most optimistic among us are feeling the fatigue of it all. The stress of dealing with the acute changes—new regulations, statistics, and alerts—on top of the chronic, steady backdrop of the last 2 years will test our patience and tax our mental wellbeing.

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What are your tried-and-true ways to rest, reconnect, and restore? Whatever it may be, I hope it incorporates the type of exploration that helps to stimulate your senses. As we learn to live through the various phases of this new virus, our mental wellbeing requires attention as well. The benefits of exploration—a hike in nature, a drive through the countryside, or an escape to a retreat—will be long-lasting. Travel as a remedy for stress is tried and true. Yes, it requires a bit more planning now, but certainly use it as a means to disconnect. 

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In response, the travel industry is adopting the work-meets-play approach. A recent WSJ article highlighted the trend of working vacations, which may be here to stay. So I am hopeful for 2022. Our lives are not going back to what they were, because in many ways, this pandemic taught us the lesson of finding balance in our day-to-day lives. When our focus is less on case numbers, changing regulations, and cancelled plans, we will hopefully have incorporated new habits in our eating, fitness, sleep, and a renewed sense to explore. Let us reset.

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

You might also like: 
The Well-Traveled Path: Healthline’s Jenny Yu looks back on 2021
The Well-Traveled Path: Dr. Jenny Yu on COVID-19 testing for travel
The Well-Traveled Path: Dr. Jenny Yu answers your questions on Omicron, boosters and more

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