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. 

As a college student backpacking through Europe on a Eurail pass in the 1990s, I relied heavily on my Lonely Planet guide books. My favorite sections were the off-the-beaten-path recommendations for the small rural towns scattered along the train routes. I can still recall the sense of joy when I found the cafe tucked in a neighborhood alleyway or the boutique in a tiny town’s quaint main square.  The awe of discovery is certainly a human longing, made possible by adventurous travel.

Moving through life, as we go about building our family and career, that discovery evolves, or may be put on hold all together. Whatever stage of life you’re in, however, travel certainly satiates this longing.

Since those days of exploring as a young college student, I have developed a career in medicine with a focus on education, global health and health equity. I have continued to travel both for work and personal exploration. I travel with passion and purpose. These experiences help me in my perspective - that we are more common than we are different. 

I’m delighted to be the health and travel expert for Lonely Planet through its sister company Healthline Media, where I’m on the Medical Affairs team ensuring all of our content is evidence-based and medically-validated. Our goal here is to provide health information to you  as we all navigate exploring in the age of a pandemic. This column, as a supplement to the Lonely Planet Health Hub, will hopefully serve to rekindle your desire to travel, while equipping you  with reliable health information.

It’s been a tough 18+ months to be still, in place. For me, a recent short trip to visit family and friends in Toronto from my home in Pittsburgh involved hours of navigating through a morass of not readily accessible information. It was difficult to learn what’s needed to cross a border and back. These challenges can be a deterrent to even the most seasoned traveler. We want to simplify this for you. 

The rewards make navigating this challenge worth the effort and then some. Exploration, whether to a destination far and new, or just seeing your familiar neighborhood with a new lens and perspective, is an activity that is good for both our physical and mental wellbeing. 

All the stillness from the past year-and-a-half has made me nostalgic for seeking something new in the world. I’m sure you feel the same. Let's do this together, while staying strong and healthy. 

-- Dr. Jenny

You might also like: 
What you need to know about traveling to COVID-19 hotspots
What do you do if you get COVID-19 while you're traveling?

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