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. 

A recent trip to NYC reinvigorated an 18-month-long period of dormant energy in me. Experiencing the return to life in a city that went on pause during the pandemic was just what I needed. Strolling without a specific destination, listening to the constant construction noise, observing the families with strollers and dogs in tow, and hearing the ubiquitous honking from taxis brought me joy. City life is back, and so with it, came my uplifted spirits.

But in the midst of that renewal was also the lingering thought that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. You may have felt this—the sudden panic when you are in a crowded space, or a sense of unease moving through an airport. These actions were  previously second nature, and now we’re all perhaps second guessing, is it time yet to roam freely?

October’s TSA data trends show about 80% of people are going through airports compared with October of 2019. It’s great news that people are becoming more comfortable flying. It also means if you aren't quite comfortable with crowds, this may add to the stress of travel. 

These feelings are part of our recovery from the collective trauma of this pandemic. Our neural plasticity, the brain's capacity to change and reorganize, undoubtedly has processed the warning images of crowds during the early days of this pandemic. Our individual responses to recovery will vary. The way we adjusted back then requires adjusting now. 

While the case numbers of COVID-19 infections persist, surges are on the decline. Forty five percent of the world has received a vaccine, according to Bloomberg news. Even with breakthrough infections, the number of severe cases is lower. It’s time to travel again, but with precautions. Know your destination and your risk tolerances, and what you should do to stay safe and healthy. 

Healthline: CDC Says Rapid Tests, Vaccines, and Masks Can Help You Stay Safe During the Holidays This Year

 The pace of scientific development in the last year has given us safe and effective protection and treatments. It’s now our time to recover. My recovery will include taking in the wonder of global communities. What’s yours?

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

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