Looking to Travel for a Sense of Renewal

Svetlana Reznikova-Steinway, an emergency doctor living in Phoenix, has spent most of a year in an overwhelmed intensive care unit on double duty. At the beginning of the pandemic, she and her husband, a urologist, developed an after-work system of taking off their scrubs in their garage to protect their 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old twin sons from the virus. She has got used to intubating critically ill Covid-19 patients. She has learned how to carefully use patients’ phones with members of the FaceTime family so everyone can say goodbye.

“It was awful,” said Dr. Reznikova-Steinway, 43 years old. “My colleagues and I have encountered a great deal of death, a great deal of horror, and a great deal of suffering – it’s hard to describe the weight, the horror, and the mental and physical strain.”

In June, Dr. Reznikova-Steinway and her husband with a group of about a dozen doctors, nurses, and their spouses – all of whom are fully vaccinated – take an eight-day trip to Alaska organized by Boutique Travel Advisors – a luxury travel agency. Most of the itinerary will keep them outdoors; You cycle, hike and kayak amid the mountains and fjords of the Kenai Peninsula.

Dr. Not only did Reznikova-Steinway need a vacation, he was hoping to “debrief” with the other health professionals, many of whom have also worked in emergency rooms across the country.

“There is no safety net in medicine to discuss how you are feeling and to be able to share the pain you have experienced and seen,” said Dr. Reznikova-Steinway. “But hopefully we can also take some time to laugh and maybe pretend we’re in another world for a few minutes.”

Although cases are increasing in some places, many parts of the United States and the world are opening up, with vaccinations increasing and more travelers passing through United States airports than at any other point in the pandemic. As we all emerge from our homes and rub our eyes, some travelers believe that vacation these days is about recovery – recovery from everything that has happened since last March. Instead of unrestricted blowout trips aiming to “take revenge” on the year, these deeply personal trips are intended as an ointment that provides an opportunity, big or small, to move on.

“Travel is an opportunity to escape our thoughts and feelings that we spent last year in quarantine,” said Vaile Wright, clinical psychologist and senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association. “It provides a much-needed break from the routines we had to put in place to weather the stress of the pandemic and reminds us of all the tremendous beauty and humanity that exists outside the homes where we have isolated ourselves since last March . ”

In a January survey of 3,000 travelers from the US, Canada, and several other countries, American Express Travel found that 78 percent of respondents would like to travel this year to relieve stress from 2020 onwards.

“Customers tell me that because it’s been such a difficult year and because travel is something very close to their hearts, they are finally able to take the trip they have dreamed of, their mindset and point of view change, “he said to Amina Dearmon, a New Orleans-based travel consultant and owner of Perspectives Travel, a subsidiary of travel company SmartFlyer.

Deepa Patel, 36, almost got over the stress and fear of the virus when she gave birth to her third child in March 2020. Ms. Patel, who lives and works in public health in Anaheim, California, was excluded from her postpartum evaluation for bringing her 6 week old son with her. None of the Gujarati childbirth and postpartum traditions she cherished – the stream of well-wishers, the family meals, and the blessings – took place. She postponed her master’s degree so that she could look after her children – now 6, almost 4 and 1 – all day at home.

Ms. Patel’s work in humanitarian aid has taken her well beyond the typical vacation destinations – South Sudan, Iraq and beyond. But in July, Ms. Patel and her family will take a new type of trip to them: a fly-and-flop at an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

“My humanitarian bum is going to be sitting on the beach drinking mai tais all day,” she joked. “I’m ready to go out and do nothing for a while. I just want to turn off my brain. I just want to see my kids play. “

Mrs. Patel knows she is lucky; She and her husband were healthy and able to work. But like many parents over a year old, they still long for a respite.

“We hope to be able to use the kids’ club,” she said. “We have been with our children every day for a year. We didn’t have babysitters – no family help, no nights away. It is important for us to find a way that we can just relax. “

In January, about three weeks after Mirba Vega-Simcic lost her mother to Covid-19 – and not long after she recovered from the virus – she and one of her brothers traveled to their “happy place”: The Roxbury, a colorful, fabulous resort in the middle of the rolling Catskill Mountains.

“There was a meditative aspect to it – looking at the falls and feeling the wind on your cheek and feeling their presence,” said Ms. Vega-Simcic, 44, a certified community service incentive coordinator for The Family Resource Network Mother. “Up until that point, I hadn’t had a moment to mourn.”

Though Ms. Vega-Simcic, who lives in Belleville, New Jersey and drives with Mimi, has been to The Roxbury at least a dozen times, the January trip made the biggest sense because of its timing – and because she went with her brother. The resort’s white cottages, individually decorated with themes ranging from Greek gods to mythical fairy forests, were more than just a physical change in the landscape.

“When I took a bath, I cried and I cried, but I felt this calm come over me because when I looked at my surroundings, I wasn’t looking at my home and the chaos of my life,” she said. “I looked at something really beautiful – something that made it possible for me to escape.”

Like Ms. Vega-Simcic, Judith West has comforted herself in the familiar after a heartbreaking year. Her 61-year-old husband died shortly before the pandemic in February 2020.

“I had tightened the isolation of grief by isolating it from Covid,” said Ms. West, 80, a Manhattanite active in the world of philanthropy. “It was a double blow.”

Fully vaccinated as of mid-February, Ms. West fled to the Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach, Florida last month. In contrast, while she and her late husband went to Seagate together many times, this trip was her “‘getting used to being alone on vacation,” as she put it.

Ms. West spent the time leisurely reading the newspaper, taking walks, chatting with resort staff, visiting the beach club, and going out to dinner, either alone or with friends who live nearby.

Although she had been nervous before the trip because she was bored and lonely, Ms. West walked “on a high level,” she said, feeling at peace and relaxed.

“I would be a robot if I didn’t say there was some nostalgia, but it’s nice,” she said. “They are all good memories. What is life about other than good memories and experiences? “

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