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Travel tips from two women who have ticked off every country in the world

ABC News logo ABC News 4/12/2022
Rachel Davey and Martina Sebova's passports went around the world. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC News (AU) Rachel Davey and Martina Sebova's passports went around the world. (Supplied)

It's been four years since Rachel Davey and Martina Sebova set out on a mission to travel everywhere in the world.

Now, 1,685 days later, they have achieved their goal.

The Australian and Slovakian couple believe they are the first females of their nationalities to do so — with thousands following their journey on social media.

The "Very Hungry Nomads" have officially visited 195 countries, 193 recognised by the United Nations.

The couple sold everything they owned and saved for years for the trip.

"Back in 2016 we both had already travelled to 100 countries, we worked in travel, loved travel, it was our passion," Ms Sebova said.

"We returned to Melbourne after one trip, and wondered if there's been anyone that's travelled to all the countries, so we looked it up.

"They were all men, we struggled to find any women on the list.

"We decided to set off on that journey. It meant we had 88 more countries to go."

They visited countries such as North Korea, indulged in sweets in Iran and even visited sacred spots in Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover.

The couple set a budget of $US50 ($73) each per day — which needed to cover everything – that included flights, accommodation, visas, transport, food and sightseeing.

To make it possible, their motto was 'live simply'.

'Food brings people together'

Sharing local cuisines was a big motivator in their travels.

"That's why we are known as the 'Very Hungry Nomads'," Ms Sebova said.

"Food became a real focus, it is something that connects everyone around the world."

They were often invited to eat with the locals and experienced different cuisines.

"One of the most memorable experiences was when we were walking in Tajikistan and saw a group of women working in a field," Ms Davey said.

"They stopped for lunch and invited us over. They had pots of rice, stewed meats and fruit from their trees.

"We chatted through broken English, bits of German and broken Russian."

But this would become one of many experiences where the pair were welcomed to eat with locals.

"Another one would be in Afghanistan, we were invited into a local home with [Afghan] women," Ms Davey said.

"It's something that only us being women could experience.

"If you were a man you wouldn't get that opportunity.

"Ethiopia is a really great country to eat ... phenomenal food."

The pair offered a hot tip to get an authentic food experience while travelling.

"We always try to visit the local markets, or the night markets, that's where you'll find some great food," Ms Davey said.

'Best friends or sisters'

The couple set out to find diamonds in the rough, no matter where they were, but it didn't come without its challenges.

They made the decision to not disclose their relationship with many, letting others assume they were best friends or sisters.

"If you were an outsider looking in, we just looked like best friends, and that's how we introduced ourselves," Ms Davey said.

"It was the easiest thing and safest thing moving through the world."

Africa a challenging journey

Logistics were a tough part of their adventures.

"Travelling through west Africa and central Africa was the most challenging part of the journey," Ms Sebova said.

It was a combination of factors that made those particular destinations more difficult.

"We had to arrange visas, some quite difficult to get, and for some we even had to return to Australia," Ms Sebova said.

"Many days were spent getting from A to B and planning the next step.

"In some places the infrastructure wasn't there, so a simple hotel could cost as much as Sydney."

Ms Davey said that navigating the Pacific Islands caused problems too.

"We have been stranded in the Pacific twice," Ms Davey said.

"The Pacific Islands are very spread out, and to get between them is very, very expensive.

"Logistically the scheduling of these flights is challenging, there's only one flight a week and it needs to connect to something."

Favourite destinations

A common question for the pair is what are their favourite destinations?

Ms Davey said it was hard to nail down, with many spots on the list.

"Destinations like Thailand, Mexico, Italy … we do love these destinations, it's always a great time," she said.

"There were other destinations that we really loved in Africa, particularly Madagascar.

"We enjoyed Ethiopia and Eretria, on the horn of Africa."

Inspiring other women

The couple wanted to add more women to the list of those who have travelled everywhere in the world.

"We have set out on this journey to inspire other women and add more women to the list," Ms Sebova.

"Our message is more in a general sense to encourage women to travel and not be afraid.

"Probably one of our most common questions from solo female travellers is if certain countries are safe to visit.

"Women can be free to travel in different forms or shape, but they shouldn't be held back by the fact they are a woman."

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