City travelers, here’s our latest interview with world’s most inspiring travel bloggers, sharing their favorite city destination and travel experiences. Meet Janice Waugh of popular travel blog Solo Traveler.
Janice, when did you start Solo Traveler, and why? What is it all about?
I traveled solo a few times in my twenties but it was in my late forties, after my husband passed away and my sons were no longer interested in traveling with me, that I began traveling solo almost exclusively. And now, despite having a new life partner, I continue to travel solo, for it has many advantages. It has made me stronger and more confident. And, because every aspect of the trip is planned and lived by me alone, my travel memories are more clear and rich than when I have traveled with others.
I started Solo Traveler in 2009 to give a personal voice to the solo experience. It has grown beyond my expectations. Over 220,000 travelers are fans of our Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Over 30,000 people receive our newsletter and monthly advisory of deals (sign up here). It’s now a fabulous community.
If you had to choose one, which would you consider your favorite city – and what makes it so special for you?
That is the difficult question that people like to ask. Probably New York City, because I return there again and again and still find it interesting. But I have to say that most cities are interesting. I often say that I’ve never met a destination I didn’t like.
5 tips for fellow travelers planning to visit New York City?
Join a Big Apple Greeters tour. They’re free with a donation to this voluntary organization.
Go to the theatre. There are discounted tickets at the TKTS Discount Booth in Times Square.
Take the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free and offers such a great view of the city. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with more frequent service during rush hour on weekdays.
Get around like a local. You can’t really experience New York City unless you walk a lot. Don’t miss central park.
Meet locals. Use Meetup.com to find people with similar interests to you. Join a local running club for a run.
As a professional travel blogger, what makes a city worth visiting for you?
Diversity makes a city interesting to write about, especially cultural diversity. I also look for cities that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly, so that I can move about at a human pace, rather than that of cars or transit.
3 ingredients for the perfect city trip?
- A lively music scene
- Great festivals
- Green space
Which gadgets or apps do you consider essential for an enjoyable city travel experience?
I use Google Maps for those occasions when I need directions. I use my phone for its camera and on it I use the Camera+ app. It enhances the definition of photos taken by my iPhone.
As frequent traveler, have you noticed any changes regarding your travel experience linked to issues such as overcrowding? How do you deal with those?
It’s true, some cities are overrun with tourists, which exhausts the locals. This is especially the case in smaller cities that have received a lot of attention recently, such as Dubrovnik. I suggest that you not stay long in such cities. See what is drawing you there and then move on to smaller cities that are not attracting crowds but allow you to experience the local culture more easily.
In your experience, which challenges do solo travelers – especially women – face when traveling? And do you have advice on how to deal with those?
First time solo travelers are usually concerned with safety. To stay safe, don’t go out of the public sphere with someone you’ve known only a short time. This is very important.
In a different culture, while traveling and feeling quite liberated, one can make errors in judgement. If an error is made in a public space you will have the protection of other people around you. In private you don’t.
Of course, I’ve written about this extensively on Solo Traveler.
Your key lessons learned from traveling the world?
Most people are good, generous and caring. It’s a big, wonderful world.
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Always, always! book your first night’s accommodation in advance and arrive well before dark. Everything looks better in the light and, if it still doesn’t look good, you have time to change.
Pack light. One carry-on-sized bag and a day pack or large purse. Everything has to fit into these. This arrangement will make your life easier and your travels happier.
Go, enjoy, and discover who you are when no one’s looking.
Thank you, Janice – and safe travels!
Enjoyed our interview with Janice Waugh of Solo Traveler? Spread the word!