Real Life

We’ve been to every country in the world!

''It took six years, but it was all worth it''
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Rachel Davey, 42, from Melbourne, Vic, shares her inspiring story with Take 5.

As I tucked into my avocado toast with my partner, an idea came to me.

“How many countries are there?” I asked Marty, 34.

“190-something, I think,” she replied.

Two years earlier, in 2014, Marty and I achieved our goal to visit 100 countries.

Our passion for exploring the world was what had brought us together.

I met Marty, who’s from Slovakia, while we were both working as road crew for a travel company in Europe.

When we weren’t working, we’d travelled together, taking in as many new cultures and cuisines as we could.

After reaching our 100-country milestone, we decided to move to my hometown of Melbourne.

Rach and Marty’s love of travel brought them together.

(Image: supplied)

But by 2016, I was starting to get itchy feet.

After a bit of research, we confirmed there were 195 countries recognised by the United Nations.

“Reckon we could see them all?” I asked Marty.

“Let’s do it!” she grinned.

We’d ticked more places off our list since 2014, so we had 88 countries left to visit.

We became more determined after we discovered the list of about 200 people who’d achieved this goal.

“There aren’t any women on here,” I said.

Marty and I were passionate about inspiring more women to travel.

By sharing our adventures on social media, and our blog, Very Hungry Nomads, we hoped we could help others realise that the world was not such a scary place.

Travelling through Tibet.

(Image: supplied)

After that day at brunch, we saved money and sold our car, furniture and any possessions we could.

The logistics of planning visits to 88 countries were tricky, especially since we had to limit ourselves to a budget of $75 each a day.

But we were determined.

Two years later, in April 2018, Marty and I excitedly set off with our backpacks.

Our first stop was North Korea. Gaining entry there was easier than expected, as long as we stuck to the pre-planned itinerary of a government-run tour.

We were fascinated by the bright lights of the country’s capital, Pyongyang, and enjoyed tucking into Korean dishes like kimchi.

As we continued our journey through Asia, Marty and I were blown away by the cultures and the people we met.

In Bhutan, the Himalayan Kingdom’s beautiful mountains and people instantly put us at ease.

Marty and Rach visit Afghanistan.

(Image: supplied)

In Tajikistan, we were wandering through a village when we found a group of women harvesting wheat.

“Please join us for lunch,” one said in broken English.

As they generously shared their food with us, the women were eager to hear about our lives.

Making connections like this left me smiling for days.

There were some funny moments, too.

When we visited Saudi Arabia in 2019, Marty and I wore abayas – the loose-fitting robes worn by Muslim women.

A friend had family there and they invited us over for tea.

“You can take off your abayas now,” our mate’s sister-in-law told us.

“No, we can’t,” I replied. “We don’t have much on underneath!”

Marty and Rach at the Alinja Fortress in Azerbaijan.

(Image: supplied)

It was so hot, Marty and I had only worn singlets and undies, not realising it was custom to remove your abayas when you enter someone’s home!

Everyone found this hilarious.

Same-sex relations were illegal in many of the countries we visited, but people always assumed Marty and I were friends or sisters, so it was never an issue for us.

We did experience a few scary moments, though.

In Turkmenistan, a man grabbed my arm and tried to force me into his car.

I managed to break free and yell at Marty to run.

But for the most part, we felt safe.

Travelling through Africa was incredible.

Marty and Rach at the Pyramids of Meroë in Sudan.

(Image: supplied)

We were blown away by Madagasar.

We loved watching the sun set at the avenue of baobab trees, and the incredible forest of giant limestone peaks at the Grand Tsingy.

We were also surprised by how great the food in Ethiopia was, from the delicious chickpea stews to the colourful platters of vegies served on flatbread.

Sticking to our budget was tricky, but we managed to do it by walking everywhere we could, and taking cheaper transport options, even if that meant travelling on buses for hours.

Almost two years into our trip, the pandemic hit.

Heading back to Melbourne in 2020, was disappointing.

“We only have nine countries left,” I sighed.

Finding jobs in the travel industry was difficult, so we bought a van and travelled around Australia for the next 18 months, moving from state to state when the borders were open.

Rach and Marty in Samoa, the last country on their bucket list.

(Image: supplied)

In November 2021, we flew to Libya to finish what we’d started.

The following November we reached our 195th country, Samoa.

“We made it!” I cried.

Realising we’d been to every corner of the Earth felt surreal.

Each place had its unique qualities, and there’s not a single one we wouldn’t go back to one day.

While other women have since joined the list of people who’ve visited every country, I’m the first Australian woman and Marty’s the first Slovakian woman to do it.

We’re still exploring the world as much as ever, and already have plans to travel through Asia and Europe this year.

The world is full of so many beautiful places, and we’re here to prove that women don’t need to be afraid to explore them.

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