Amid a worldwide pandemic, we found ourselves in London having to call off our big trip. For the past two years we’ve been travelling towards one goal – to visit every country in the world.
Why? To inspire women. And to show that the world is not a scary place. But most importantly, to add more women to the very small list of people who have done it.
More people have been to space than those who have been to all countries of the world. We are aiming to diversify a list made up of predominantly white men.
But here we were, sitting on the floor of our friend’s house with passports in hand with our final visas. We skim through a bunch of emails about upcoming cancelled flights. Borders across the world were closing down and everyone was rushing to get home.
Our phone pinged with the final text message of a friend who was on the ground for our next country: “The borders are closed. Do not come.”
The unthinkable happens – Travel stops!
This was it. The end of a two-year intense travel journey on top of 15 years of exploring the world trying to eventually visit every country in the world.
We have visited 186 countries recognised by the UN, which means 9 remain in the world to visit every country in the world.
Some of the most common questions are: What will travel look like after coronavirus? What nine countries do you have left? And why these nine? Is there an order to visit every country in the world? Here is the list of those 9 and the reason why we haven’t visited yet.
9 countries remain to visit every country in the world:
You haven’t been to Israel? We hear this question a lot. I get it. It’s easy to get to, with flights as little as 20 Euro from Europe. There is plenty to see and as for any foodie, you won’t be disappointed. And honestly, if you are on a journey to visit every country in the world, you normally would visit Israel in your first few years of travel for the obvious reasons.
The truth is, we were due to pop into Israel in 2015 when we were travelling around Jordan and Lebanon. But fighting broke out in Jerusalem at the time and we decided to stay in Lebanon for longer. We were loving our time there and figured we’d just get to Israel later on.
9 countries remain to visit every country in the world and Isreal is still one of them!
Fast forward a few years and the obvious hurdle becomes apparent. Multiple countries won’t allow you to enter if you have been to Israel. And while Israel doesn’t stamp your passport upon entry, it was easier to visit other countries first and leave it until the end. Our flight to Tel Aviv in March was cancelled due to the country closing its border to visitors to prevent the spread of the virus.
Israel is probably the easiest destination of the 9 countries that remain to visit every country in the world.
Before we set off on the journey to visit every country in the world, we had to define how many countries are there in the world. Trust us, it’s not easy to decide, we even wrote a blog about it here: How many countries are there in the world?
We decided to count countries recognised by the UN: 193 + the two observer states; Vatican City And Palestine. Once again, we would have travelled to Palestine back in 2015 and the plan was to travel there from Israel in March of this year.
Eritrea, a small unknown country in the horn of Africa is a former Italian colony. We have heard wonderful things about Eritrea, another friend described it as Ethiopia with an Italian touch.
But the visa condition has changed in June 2018 and Australian passport holders could no longer get a visa on arrival. I could get mine with no problem as there is no embassy or consulate in my country of origin – this is the rule. But Rach being Australian was asked to fly from Africa back to Australia to get her tourist visa.
Sigh… This wasn’t the first of our many visa challenges. The question of visa for Eritrea reappeared when we visited Sudan in December 2019. There was a rumour that the Eritrean embassy in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan can issue a tourist visa for non-residents in 8-10 working days. This would mean an extra two weeks in Sudan.
Or we could fly to Slovakia for Christmas and surprise my mum. We chose the second option. We were exhausted from being on the road and the idea of home-cooked meals, Christmas markets and family made this choice easy.
Plus we were due to fly to Australia anyway as we still needed visas for Algeria and Libya. Both had to be obtained in Australia. Yup, if you wish to visit every country in the world make sure you plan your visa logistics wellhead.
One of the two remaining countries in Africa is Libya. Today, Libya is sadly considered one of the most unstable countries in the world, it certainly doesn’t see hordes of tourists. A visit to Libya has to be carefully planned, with strong contacts on the ground and due to the current situation, your visit will be brief.
Home to some of the most remarkable Roman ruins in Africa, this was another country we were aiming to travel to in March. As the only way to fly into Libya is currently via Tunisia, as soon as Tunisia imposed border restrictions, that was it.
Getting a visa is not easy. There are only a handful of embassies that will issue it. We flew back to Australia and even drove up 10 hours to Canberra to make sure everything runs smoothly. When the time is right, we will have to repeat this process.
And while only 9 countries remain to visit every country in the world for us, Libya might be impossible to visit for a while.
We knew very little about Palau. It often gets lost due to its geographical location. Palau lies 900 km west of the Philippines and 1300km east of Guam. It got its independence from The Federated States of Micronesia in 1979.
During our travels in the Pacific, we visited Micronesia but were not able to fly onto Palau. Why? All flights transit through Guam which is an overseas American Teritorry and therefore we require a US visa. Due to our travels in the past ( Iran and a few other countries) we are no longer eligible for ESTA and would therefore need to apply for a 10-year USA visa.
So we decided to visit Palau later on, flying there via the Philippines or Taiwan. This would technically be possible now in the second half of 2020 as Palau is open to tourists. However as we can’t leave Australia at the moment, Palau will have to wait as well.
Kiribati is a small island nation of just over 100,000 people in the pacific. The name Kiribati is pronounced “Kiribas” and it is the first country to celebrate New Year each year due to its location.
We had flights booked to Kiribati and were due to visit at the start of February 2020, but we got stranded in Tuvalu. So no Kiribati for us due to the limited flight schedules in the Pacific. We did have a stopover here twice while travelling to neighbouring countries but we don’t count that.
Also, Marty’s backpack was offloaded here so at least we can say the bag had a great time. It took three weeks to get it back so we often joke about it… Marty’s bag sitting on the beach and drinking coconuts in true Kiribati style.
Currently, tourists can’t visit Kiribati.
7. Papua New Guinea
Our flights were booked for February 2020. Then they were cancelled by the airline and we got stranded in Micronesia. Without the direct flight, the only option to get to PNG from Micronesia was via Guam and the Philippines. So our planned 4-hour flight was suddenly 32 hours long.
But there was a catch – I needed a US visa to transit in Guam (an overseas US territory). We are both no longer eligible for ESTA. But Rach has an Australian passport so she can transit in Guam on a so-called Guam waiver.
It was very frustrating – the condition to apply for a US visa just to transit in the middle of a pandemic…
In a nutshell, it meant we couldn’t get to Papua New Guinea. We planned to visit Bougainville which is an island that just voted for its independence and it might be the worlds next newest country!
8. Solomon Islands
Due to our cancelled flights from Micronesia to Papua New Guinea, we missed out on our connecting flights to the Solomon Islands. Travel around the Pacific Islands was difficult in February 2020.
Many islands have introduced new conditions banning visitors from countries with cases of coronavirus.
Since many islands are connecting with flights from Australia, it made it impossible for airlines to operate.
The Solomon Islands are only 3 hours away from Brisbane. Hopefully, we will be able to travel to the Solomon Islands soon. Especially since there is talk of a travel bubble to be created between some nations in the Pacific.
Samoa – this island nation was our final country to visit on our journey to visit every country in the world. Why? Well when planning our final countries and itinerary, we thought it would be fun to choose a country to be able to kick back and celebrate.
Samoa ticks a few boxes: beaches, landscapes, friendly locals, rich culture and it is relatively easy to get to from Australia. There is even a direct flight! And our friend wrote this blog that convinced us it will be great – 9 Reasons to travel to Samoa.
Will Samoa be our last country in the world? Who knows…
As you can see we had plans and flights booked for 8 of the countries on the list and we were due to celebrate our last country Samoa in April 2020.
So final 9 countries remain to visit every country in the world, hopefully, we can get there in 2021 or 2022.
Did you enjoy our blog 9 Countries Remain to visit every country in the world. Let us know which should be our last country in the comments below.
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