Tactical Traveler: S1:E3 | Traveling the World During Global Uncertainty with Ruth Ancell

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In this episode of The Tactical Traveler, John and Ruth Ancell discuss the challenges of COVID-19 and wildfires in Greece. Ruth shares her firsthand experiences and insights into life on the move, including vaccination rates, evolving regulations, and environmental challenges faced by local communities.

Ruth discusses safety precautions and strategies for navigating unfamiliar territories as a solo female traveler. She also shares her experiences finding work while traveling, highlighting the unique opportunities and challenges faced by travelers seeking employment abroad. With plans to explore Cairo, Jordan, and beyond, Ruth shares her adventurous spirit and flexible approach to long-term travel, sharing her aspirations for future destinations.

Highlights:

{01:00} Greece Amidst COVID

(02:15} Impact of Wildfires

{05:10} How the journey started

{09:25} Traveling Solo: As a solo female traveler

{14:15} Work Opportunities Abroad

{20:30} European Union Rules

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Ruth Ancell Bio:

After enduring a tumultuous year in 2021 that tested her resilience and spirit, Ruth Ancell boldly decided to reclaim her happiness and pursue her lifelong dream of traveling the world. With unwavering determination, she packed up her home, bid farewell to her possessions, and embarked on a journey fueled by courage and wanderlust.

Embracing a nomadic lifestyle, Ruth traverses the globe with curiosity and adventure, immersing herself in diverse cultures, forging new friendships, and documenting her escapades through captivating vlogs. Her journey is not merely about exploration; it’s a profound journey of self-discovery, healing, and growth.

In addition to her travels, Ruth has ventured into entrepreneurship, launching a vibrant online shop that showcases the essence of Greek culture, Skiathos allure, and the adventurous spirit of Roadtripping Ruth. With each product curated with love and passion, Ruth invites others to experience the beauty and excitement of her nomadic lifestyle.

Driven by a relentless pursuit of happiness and authenticity, Ruth Ancell inspires others to break free from the constraints of convention, embrace the unknown, and live life on their terms. Through her adventures and entrepreneurial endeavors, she embodies the essence of living boldly and fearlessly pursuing one’s dreams.

Links:

https://www.youtube.com/@roadtrippingruth8582

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John

Welcome to the tactical traveler. I’m excited to be back with you guys today, and I have a special guest from Greece with us. Ruth Ansell. Ruth. How are you doing today?

Ruth

Hey, John. Yeah. I’m doing well. Thank you. Well.

John

Awesome. Did I get your last name right?

Ruth

And so, yes, you’ve done it correctly.

John

Good, good, good, good. So, we met on a LinkedIn travel group, and I found your story fascinating from our pre-call. You’re right now in Greece, and I know we are not getting stories on what’s happening worldwide for many American listeners. What’s it like in Greece right now, especially with COVID?

Ruth

OK, I’m on an island with a 95% vaccination rate. It was recently featured on a BBC program for the UK about how it’s the most vaccinated part of Greece, from the 13th of September. Greece is a country that has upped its rules regarding vaccination. 

So, if you are vaccinated and a resident of Greece, you now have to be tested twice a week at your own expense, which I think is €20 a test. Otherwise, you won’t be able to visit cinemas inside the eating areas. Anything inside.

Travelers to the island are also under the same measures.

John

Hmm. OK. And also, you guys have been dealing with some crazy wildfires, right?

Ruth

Oh, gosh, yes. So, it’s been all across Europe in August, but Greece was hit the hardest. It was the hottest August on record, and massive forest fires broke out on a few of the islands, and the island that I’m on, you could see across, too. The island opposite, which is 2 hours away by ferry, and you could see it burning this massive forest fire that wiped out towns and villages. It was. It wasn’t very good.

John

And has that been like throughout the entire country? Has it been pretty isolated? I mean, Greece is now open for tourism, right?

Ruth

Yes. Yeah. Greece is open to tourism. The forest fires have all been put out, but many islands have gotten so hot that all it would take is a discarded cigarette, and “voom,” … that is it. And this island, here it was. It was on red alert. We had warnings sent to our phones. We weren’t allowed to enter forests for a couple of weeks. I volunteered with many residents to go into the forest at nighttime and look out for sparks. So that we can react quickly. Case there was a fire. It was. It was a scary time.

John

Yeah, I remember when we were talking. You were talking about doing, you know, volunteering to help with that. So, you know, it’s amazing on your part. So, let’s dig into your story. I wanted just to. Give the audience a kind of preview. Of what things are? Like in Greece, you’re in Greece. You’re alone.

Ruth

I am a lot.

John

What are you doing?

Ruth

What am I doing? OK, I came to Greece nearly three months ago as a starter for an epic world tour. I’ve been doing a lot of noisy cash-in-hand work, working for tips, and doing some kitchen work, but that was during the heat wave. It wasn’t a good idea and didn’t last very long, but I found a fantastic job waitressing in a beautiful cocktail bar and restaurant. I’ve been doing that for over a month, and that’s been really good fun. I have been working all night, sleeping too late, hitting the beach, and working again. It’s been it’s been good fun.

John

Yeah. So, tell me about it. Just deciding to move to Greece for three months and do a little bit of work, I mean like, I mean I love it the free spirit and just like to heck with the rest of the world. I’m going to. I’m just going to explore an adventure but fill the audience in. Who were you before, what were you doing, and what moved you to this lifestyle?

Ruth

OK, so I’ve always traveled, but never on a long-term basis, and my heart was always calling out for more of a life of travel. I have a background in retail management and running bars and restaurants. With all the lockdowns happening in the UK as it got to the start of this year, I felt quite suppressed and like I needed to spread my wings. I also had a few little problems at work, which disillusioned me. I was also having problems in a not-so-great relationship. 

The son had moved out and brought his own home, and I just and it all happened there. At the same time, I thought, this is it, now or never.

So, I told everyone I owned everything. Even down to the pictures on my walls, I sold everything I owned, packed my suitcase, and came to Greece.

John

Yeah. So, Greece was your first stop.

Ruth

Greece was my first stop. I’m only here for ten more days, then off to Cairo for a month.

John

I wrote for a month. Yeah, and so.

Ruth

I have a little bit of work over there doing a bit of teaching English, not I’ve ever taught English before, so I’m on a bit of a wing and a prayer there.

John

Right, that’s cool. So, you sell everything that you own to basically. Get out and. What’s the plan like? So, you’re in Greece now? You’re going to Cairo next? I mean, tell me about the vision of this. Tell me about where you see yourself in six months or nine months. I mean, how far out do you have a plan, or are you kind of just, you know, going by whatever feels best?

Ruth

I’m going by whatever feels best. I have a loose plan in that when I leave Cairo; I’m then crossing the border into Jordan as I found a little bit of work there as a hotel receptionist in a hotel just by Petra, the ancient city of Petra. And I’m just kind of, I’m going with it. I’m seeing what pops up, and I’ve got no ties anymore, so I don’t need to be anywhere. I can stay as long as my visa allows me to stay in whichever country I’m in.

John

Alright, so we’ve got Greece, Cairo, then Jordan. You and I have a loose plan, which is cool. And I can’t wait to see Petra myself. Where do you want to go?

Ruth

I don’t think I will ever get to visit some of the countries I would love to visit. I would love to be able to visit Saudi Arabia and Mecca—the history behind that. But I don’t think that will ever happen for many reasons. And the same with Syria. I’d love to be able to explore Syria, Damascus in particular, but I don’t think that’s ever going to be something I’m going to see in my lifetime. So South America is calling next year if I’m honest. Peru. 

John

Bruce beautiful. So you know, I’ve talked with a couple of solo female travelers, and when you’re starting to talk about Cairo, you’re talking about Jordan, potentially Syria, in some of these other countries. What are you doing for safety? How do you mitigate that? How do you personally handle all that?

Ruth

Well, where I’m staying in Cairo, I’m renting a room with a lovely Egyptian lady and her mother to get some safety tips. I was also quite prepared to put the brown hair dye on my hair. I’ve got a fake wedding ring I put on as well. My pretend husband, in case I’m ever approached.

John

That’s good. That’s good.

Ruth

Not making eye contact with groups of men and not being the friendly, open person I would necessarily be in countries like Greece.

John

Right, right. Good. Well, you know, I encourage women to travel. I think that there is concern. There are things that you need to be aware of. But I think that by and large if you just think it through and take some of the precautionary steps you have. For the most part, women can travel by themselves and be relatively safe, and for the majority of the world, I know, at least in, you know, most of Europe, there they would be safe to solo. That’s good for most of the United States and probably South America. It’s good that you thought that through.

So Peru is going to be amazing. What makes you feel called to the South?

Ruth

I guess it’s the bucket list of those must-see things before you die, so visit the Amazon to work more way around South America.

John

Yeah, you know, the Amazon, if you talk about Machu Picchu, there are so many great things to see in South America. Do you think you’re going to make your way to Argentina?

Ruth

Argentina. Before I die, I plan to visit every country in the world, so I’m sure I’ll get to Argentina someday.

John

How many countries have you visited? Up till now.

Ruth

Oh my goodness, I’d say over 30.

John

  1. That’s it’s a little bit. I don’t think people understand that it is easy to get to 30-40 countries when you live in Europe. You guys are all so close-knit distance-wise. You can watch the drive from the UK and the tunnel to France in two hours, right? 

Ruth

Absolutely. And where I live in Portsmouth, there are direct ferries that you can catch across to France. You’ll be there in 4-5 hours, and ferries to Belgium and Spain. It’s all close.

John

You know, so I think I sent it to you. There’s a guy on TikTok who’s from the UK. And he’s experiencing all this stuff from America. And they were showing him pictures of a moose in Alaska. And he was just like, it’s bigger than my home.

Ruth

Oh, they were hilarious.

John

Yeah. And I didn’t realize this, but you guys don’t have ranch dressing in the UK.

Ruth

No, no, we don’t. Well, I think we have arranged in some stores by the actor, Paul Newman. He’s got, like, a dressing range. I think he’s got a ranch dressing, but it’s not something we would use daily. The British love ketchup.

John

I had no clue until I started watching some of his videos that stuff like Ranch is a novelty. I mean, you always know that certain things aren’t going to translate from the US to the UK. It’s just really funny when you start to think about it. No ranch dressing and he’s just like, oh my God, this is amazing. And you’re like, it’s ranch dressing. So, you know, that’s a really good question for you. 

So you know you’re on this journey; you’ve sold everything you own. You’re just traveling. How difficult has it been to find work, and how are you finding work? Are you just checking the local newspaper? Tell me about that experience and how it’s working.

Ruth

It’s been easy and random. To be fair, when it comes to work, at the moment, Greece has a furlough scheme in which Greeks are choosing to take €600 not to work. And there are so many job vacancies that they choose to stay home rather than work. Companies are paying no heed to working visas this year, which has been helpful. 

So the kitchen work was just a lady at a Tennis Club where I was swimming to say, are you looking for work? And I said yes. Then I walked into the job. It was it. It’s so random, but it’s so easy. They’re crying out for workers in Greece at the moment.

John

Why are the Greek people getting paid to stay at home? Is it because of COVID-19?

Ruth

They had it in the UK, where businesses perhaps couldn’t operate because there were no customers or businesses. So, the government was financing them. And so, they’d rather take the government finance than return to work.

John

Yeah, we, I mean, we did unemployment for everybody who lost their jobs due to COVID, and it was pretty good. I didn’t really. You know, it wasn’t like you got a choice to stay home.

Ruth

No, right, they have it in the UK as well. When we had lockdowns in the UK, Shops and businesses closed down because we all had to stay home. We were put on a furlough scheme where we still received up to 80% of our wages. I don’t know what percentage of the wages the Greeks are receiving, but I know €600. Is a lot of money out here. See what?

John

So €600 is a lot of money in Greece.

Ruth

Yeah. Yes, it is.

John

Oh my God.

Ruth

I’m currently working on tips. I am just under €40 a day as a waitress. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

John

Yeah. So, the euro is gone. So that’s probably $700 in American money.

Ruth

I’m not sure I let me work this out. It’s going to be about. It’s going to. Yeah. It’s going to be about 700. Your $700.00 may be more.

John

I was just reading an article. I don’t know if you know anything about it, but you can live pretty well in Portugal for about $1200 or €1200 a month, maybe €1400.

Ruth

Yeah, yeah, I’ve read about that too. Portugal seems to be quite a free and easy country as well. I have looked into that.

John

I was reading that in America, you know, we can have a second passport if you meet certain criteria and all this stuff. And they were talking about that for a single person to make $600 a month, and you spend four months in Portugal. Then, set up an address and all that stuff so you can become a citizen in Portugal.

Ruth

Ah, that’s amazing.

John

Yeah, I was like, wow, like that. That’s so mind-blowing. I think to the American audience. That for that amount of money you can. Do something like that, they. It’s a different mindset. I think between Europeans and Americans. Because you guys are so close that your countries are more like states for the United States, and it’s hard for us because our country is so, you know, as far as land mass goes, so massive to really kind of put that whole thing in the context like in the economy and stuff like that. I was shocked reading the article. I was like, what? That’s wild.

Ruth

Yeah. The UK is in the same time zone as Portugal. But that kind of shows you how close all these European countries are.

John

Yeah. Hey, I mean it, it’s pretty amazing. I haven’t had much time in the UK. I spent two weeks in Ireland and then went to other countries. I spent ten days in Romania and Moldovia: A and A and a dip into Transnistria. I want to get over there and do more, and then I’ve spent about a month in Norway, maybe three weeks. 

So I’ve gotten to get some good experiences in Europe, and you know, once all this COVID stuff kind of chills out, I would like to do a lot more. Talk to me about this because I brought it up with the European Union because they require the COVID-19 net passport. The Europeans, by and large, are rejecting it and rioting in many countries. What countries are not included in that? I mean, the UK’s no longer in the EU, right?

Ruth

No. So, the UK came out of the EU at the start of the year. So that so that’s made things a little bit careful. Because I have to, I can only stay in EU countries for 90 days now, and then I have to leave for 90 days before I can return for 90 days. So it’s made things difficult with travel. There are protests every weekend in London, even though they’re being documented in mainstream media. But there are big protests every single weekend in the capital.

John

So, the Brits are very much against the passport vaccine.

Ruth

It’s very, very polarized, very.

John

Yeah, it’s polarized everywhere. Like in the US, it’s become a very, very, very, very controversial issue. I’ve been joking with some friends and even on the podcast. To be honest, as an American, I’m a little bit embarrassed that the French have started to riot and protest before the Americans. I’m a little embarrassed, you know.

Ruth

Well, they have the French Revolution. They do like a revolution.

John

Right, yeah, but for, but for at least the last, you know, 120 years, they haven’t, they haven’t been the most outspoken people, so.

Ruth

They like a good strike. Instead, they like to down tools and sit at home.

John

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you know. It’s been, I don’t know what the right word is, but it’s been isolated from Americans to find out that what we’re feeling about COVID and the COVID machine and the COVID mandate is not a particularly American phenomenon, but that this is happening in Greece. It’s happening in Italy, France, you. The day is happening in a bunch. Spain has flat-out said. They’re not going to do vaccine passports. They’re open for tourism. Anybody can come, and we are in America unless you’re watching other media sources from other countries, like or not hearing anything about it.

Ruth

It’s the same. There’s been a blanket across UK media if I’m honest. It’s only telling you one side of the story. It’s not telling you the full story; it’s difficult hearing Greece in. Where I’m currently working, none of the entire workforce has been vaccinated, and they come from different countries, including France, India, Albania, and other islands. Like myself, not one of us from the UK has been vaccinated, yet we must check people’s documentation before they’re allowed into the country. Indoor club. Yeah, it’s OK for us as unvaccinated individuals to serve them. It makes no sense.

John

Yeah, none of it does. And many people, regardless of their. You know, political or national affiliations or all kinds of, you know, coming to the same conclusions.

Ruth

I was. I was festival when I got to the island, and there was such a big stigma about not being vaccinated that I kind of hid my status a little bit if asked just so that people wouldn’t pull their face mask up a little bit higher up when around me. But when I started working at the cocktail bar, I started learning about the status of my coworkers. It was. It was liberating, and the more people I encounter now, the more they have the same mindset. 

So I don’t know whether that is because. Where they are travelers and travel to work in different countries, maybe they have more of a well-rounded mindset towards things I don’t know, but we’re all there under the same common denominator.

John

Right, right. So you have started doing a blog, right?

Ruth

I started writing a blog and a YouTube channel when I landed in Greece for my adventure. And it’s, yeah, it’s picking up traction. Just me on my little day-to-day basis of what I get up to. I had to hide that I’ve been working cash in hand because I don’t want to get deported, but I’ll be by the time this airs Out here. So that’s it’s not a problem.

John

Right, right. So, tell me a little about your blog and your YouTube channel. What are they primarily about your traveling, how long have you had them, and what’s your strategy? With it.

Ruth

OK, so it’s all new, I’ve always. I’ve always had a dream. Being a travel writer, I thought I would be able to. Document my experiences and journeys on this new massive adventure at the Grand Old Age of 43. So yeah, I’ve been. I set up a blog, and I set up my YouTube channel so people can follow the journey that I’m on. 

And yeah, I’ve had so much support. It’s been mind-blowing. And it’s been very strange because it’s such a small island. I can’t even walk into town without holidaymakers going. It’s Ruth. It’s the YouTube woman. And I keep getting caught for photographs, which is a bit odd.

John

Right, So what is your what is your YouTube channel and your blog name so that the listeners can find it?

Ruth

It’s called Roadtripping Ruth

John

Roads tripping roots.

Ruth

It’s a very tripping room.

John

That’s great. And now, how many people are watching now? How many views do you have?

Ruth

Ohh, I’m on over 20,000 views at the moment, so, and it’s, yeah, it’s picking up traction, and I’ve got viewers from all across the world, from Australia and America, it’s. It’s been amazing, and the messages of support and people have been following my Instagram pictures. And I’ve joined some for travel tips and things, they’ve helped encourage me with good ideas for my blogging. It’s all new to me.

John

Yeah, that’s awesome. Wow, that’s great. If you keep that kind of traction up, you know you’ll be able to work on the town when you want to, but you can monetize the YouTube and the blog—getting it to where it pays you.

Ruth

Wow, that would be the absolute dream, wouldn’t it? That would be the dream. So it’s it’s slowly, slowly. I’m running my sleeves up and doing some hands-on work in the countries because you get to meet the real people and locals and learn more about their life in the country.

John

Right, right. For sure, for sure. How much do you estimate you need to keep this up as long as you want? I mean, are you talking 1000 a month to 2000? I mean, what do you think your budget is for this kind of this kind of endeavor?

Ruth

Well, so far, I’ve broken even with doing all the evening bits and bobs I’ve been doing. I would say I have broken even thanks to all the tips and my little wage. The most expensive thing is the flights. The most expensive thing is the flights. I would say that €500 a month. 

But you can get that down a lot, a lot, lot less by budgeting carefully. I only buy what I need. I’ve become very frugal, and I’ve become so frugal that my garden is just full of fruit like figs, pears, and plums. Lemons and I’ve been on the fruit diet. Oh, I saved so much money.

John

Nice. So, if people are listening today and find you as inspiring as I am, what’s the easiest way for them to contact you as a true Instagram? Is it through your YouTube or your blog? Well, how can somebody get a?

Ruth

Yeah. So they can contact me through Instagram. I love getting messages. Yeah. So, through Instagram, feel free to drop me a message and a comment on YouTube. I also have an e-mail that I use for. So, like my professional stuff, that is roadtrippingruth@outlook.com, and yes, you can always.

John

Right.

Ruth

Your e-mail that way.

John

That is awesome. In the show notes, I will put up your YouTube channel, blog, and Instagram handle so that anybody who wants to get a hold of you can stay in touch. Can Ruth, thank you so much for coming on today. I love hearing about just the freedom that you have. And that you’re pursuing your dream and traveling the world. I mean, that’s something that everybody should do, at least for a bit.

So, I just want to thank you for spending your time with me.

Ruth

Oh, no, thank you so much for having me on here; it’s very appreciated. It’s fabulous.

John

There is no problem. Alright, we’ll talk to you soon.

Ruth

Take care. Thank you.

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