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.
If you have followed the news at all this week, you may have felt the same way I did—a bit gloomy at the prospect of travel. Austria just went into a strict shutdown again, with many other European countries considering new rules. The images of the unrest that followed takes one back to 2020. Have we not made any progress with the pandemic?
We have, in fact, made quite a bit of progress. We have a few vaccines that work to reduce disease severity and treatments that decrease the length of disease. And there are new treatments that could be accessible soon. Viruses don’t cast judgement; they take any opportunity to survive. And the way the COVID-19 virus is attempting to survive now is by seeking out the most vulnerable—persons without any immune protection. Plus, immunity may be waning in those who may have had a past infection and/or early vaccination. A booster shot may be worth considering as part of your travel planning.
The seemingly endless changes in restrictions and rules, plans, and cancellations often leave us feeling dispirited. The inability to plan creates havoc in our cognition—imagine the frozen screens of your Zoom calls, as an example of this disconnect. Flexibility is all we can ask of ourselves. I compare our need to be flexible with the changing of the seasons—we can’t control the weather, but our response to it either brings out the beauty of the moment or creates dread.
The US is preparing itself for a big travel week with the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. In the midst of travel delays, road congestion, and other unpredictable surprises, I am going to take the time to pause and remind myself of why we gather together—to appreciate our loved ones and friends, to be grateful for what we have, and to reflect on our resilience.
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.