Janice Waugh is founder, publisher, and contributor to Solo Traveler, a website she conceived of based upon her own need for better information about travelling alone. Since launching the site in 2009, it has grown to a readership of over 150,000 monthly with a subscriber base of over 45,000 that eagerly awaits four mailings per month. Janice is also author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook, now in its second edition.
Janice is a go-to authority for the media on the topic of solo travel. She’s been interviewed by The New York Times, CNN, TravelWeekly, The Chicago Tribune, The Globe & Mail and many more. She has spoken at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the World Travel Market in London, TBEX in North America and Spain and The Social Travel Summit in Germany and Austria.
Janice has worked with many companies to help them serve solo travelers better, and she has a long history as an entrepreneur. She started a trade show and conference business in 1988 which was sold in 2000. After selling the business, Janice travelled with her family for 10 months and returned to work on a freelance basis as a writer of business articles and websites before starting Solo Traveler. Janice has a Masters degree in History. She lives in Toronto.
And she was kind enough to answer some of our most burning travel questions below…
Travelers worry too much about seeing what everyone else sees.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Janice: I started traveling at 15. I’ve traveled solo, with a partner, with kids and now, again, solo. My mother hooked me on travel. When I was ten, she told me about cycling from hostel to hostel in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I thought it was a romantic thing to do. When I was 15 I saved every cent I earned from working at a delicatessen in Ottawa and took a one month organized cycling tour of Northern Wales and Southern England. I didn’t travel with my family of origin again until my mother turned 80. Travel has been a huge part of my life.
TA: What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?
Janice: What a challenging question. Perhaps my trip to Chile and Patagonia. It was culturally interesting and physically challenging.
TA: What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit?
Janice: Scandinavia. I have an affinity for the north and would like to explore their north.
TA: What’s one thing you ALWAYS pack when you travel?
Janice: Layers. I pack light so I plan for layers of clothing that are flexible.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Janice: Be patient. Things don’t always go smoothly. Sometimes you think you’ve made a mistake. If you’re patient you’ll see your way through a challenge and see how you’ve grown from it.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Janice: The Uncornered Market — I have such respect for Dan and Audrey’s work.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Janice: Budapest. It has a great vibe and it’s not yet overrun with tourists.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Janice: Rome2Rio for understanding the logistics and timing of a trip. Solo Traveler as we’ve been receiving submissions from our readers for years. We have posts on places I’ve never been. The tourism board and other destination-specific websites.
TA: Do you have any good airport or flight hacks for people traveling by plane?
Janice: Forget the free drinks of any kind and drink water. You’ll feel better when you arrive and ready to go even if you’ve traveled many time zones.
TA: Is there something you think most travelers worry too much about?
Janice: Travelers worry too much about seeing what everyone else sees. I think the real joy of travel is seeing beyond tourist sites into the real culture of the destination.
TA: What’s a travel scam travelers should be wary of? And if you’ve ever had someone try to pull a scam on you while traveling, please share the story!
Janice: Scams happen. And there are new ones all the time. I’ve been caught in a couple but I don’t worry about them. A few dollars lost is not the end of the world. But if a person is trying to get you to leave a public place, the scam may be about more than just money. Say no.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you’ve ever visited?
Janice: Ljubljana [the capital of Slovenia]. I felt like I was in Italy in the 50s when I was there. It has an Italian/Austrian feel and is still well off the tourist trail.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Janice: I would say that most small cities are underrated. People tend to go to the large cities but many smaller ones have fabulous food, museums, arts communities… They are often easier to connect with and enjoy on a more personal level.