It’s time for us to look back over the past 12 months and share our review of 2021. New places we discovered, our favourite experiences and our achievements this year. Covid is still managing to close borders, create chaos and undo any plans made, but we’re doing our best to keep up with the ever-changing rules and regulations to how Covid continues to affect travel.
Lake MacDonnell, pink lake in South Australia
Marty wrote a detailed post and checklist for travelling during Covid in 2022. It includes all the information you need to navigate what you need to do before you go, which travel insurance covers you for Covid and even unexpected quarantine. It includes what forms, apps and info you need to feel confident about travelling in 2022.
Also, are we any closer to completing our goal of visiting every country?
Summer spent in Victoria – working hard for the money
We spent the first three months of 2021 in a beach town in Victoria, Australia. It’s the best time of year to be in this part of Oz. It’s summer and the days are long, the weather is warm, the beaches are inviting, and it was a chance to spend some time with my family. We even picked up some work in a restaurant that had just opened.
It often surprises many people to know that we don’t have an endless flow of cash to travel. We sometimes work random jobs here and there to put more money in the bank to continue travelling the world. If you’re wondering what kind of jobs we do, we talk about them in our post 20 jobs that pay you to travel the world.
When not at our ‘summer job’, our free time was spent working hard on our travel blog, fishing and enjoying the beach.
Of course, we had Frida our campervan with us, so we took some day trips away too.
It’s worth pointing out that at the beginning of 2021, international borders were still closed due to Covid. They had been since March 2020. Also, the Australian government forbid all Australians from leaving the country (unless you got an exemption from the government to leave).
So, we couldn’t leave Australia even if we wanted to. There was no set date to when Australia would open back up, so we made a plan to do what we do best…to travel!
We left Victoria in early April to head West. You see, Australia is a HUGE country, and when winter comes from July – September in Victoria, it’s the ideal time to be in the northern region of Western Australia. The weather is perfect up there!
Esperance beaches in WA look like this
Our trusty campervan Frida didn’t miss a beat as we first explored South Australia before we drove across the Nullabor (bottom part of Oz) and entered the state of Western Australia.
Luck was definitely on our side as not long after we entered WA, the eastern states entered a hard lockdown (due to rising covid infections). It lasted many months, and our friends and family back home in Melbourne spent the winter months enduring some of the toughest restrictions in the world.
At the same time, the state of WA closed its borders to pretty much all other states of Australia in the hope of keeping out the virus. There were no cases in this huge state yet, and they wanted to keep it that way.
Exploring Western Australia in our campervan was awesome!
From May through to early October, we discovered many amazing places in Western Australia. This is a beautiful state, full of the incredible landscape, stunning beaches, chilled surf towns, great fishing opportunities and magnificent national parks.
Life was pretty sweet exploring Western Australia in Frida. Pic was taken in Monkey Mia.
It was early October at this point of our journey and it was getting really hot and humid up north. Sleeping in Frida was becoming a little too hot for us. In addition to that, the wet season was coming next month and we didn’t want to spend it in Western Australia.
We had plans to begin our big drive towards the east coast again. And, for anyone who doesn’t have a 4×4 equipped for wet, rugged roads and river crossings, it’s best to time it right so you don’t get caught out.
Our tips for doing the Big Lap of Australia include some helpful information which is especially important for travelling this part of Oz. Many parts of WA are quite remote and being prepared for anything is key to having an amazing time. It’s best to take the time to plan this trip according to the seasons in Australia.
So, where do we go now?
There aren’t too many options for what direction to go from there. We decided to drive back towards Northern Territory, and then see what happens. After several long days of driving, listening to podcasts, fuel stops and coffee breaks at some random roadhouses along the way, we reached the town of Katherine in NT.
We felt a sense of ‘Deja Vu. Flashes of 2020 came to mind….but it was 2021! The reason it all felt so familiar is that we were here at this very same time last year. It also meant that we had officially completed the Big Lap of Oz.
We’d done the entire journey around Oz, and then some! Probably close to 35,000km we had driven around our beautiful country, and I have to mention it again – Frida was amazing! It’s going to be a difficult day when we have to sell her.
So really, where do we go from here?
We had two options. Should we drive east, across Australia to reach the coast of Queensland? Or should we drive south towards Victoria, towards home? We drove east, towards the Queensland coast because the weather is warmer there. Days later, we made it to Townsville, turned north and arrived in Cairns.
We love this part of the country, and we had a few weeks to enjoy it before the wet season sets in and it gets stifling hot here too. We visited good friends, ate so much great food (don’t miss our post on the best cheap eats in Cairns if you’re heading there), discovered Fitzroy island and revisited all of our favourite beaches in Cairns.
We also enjoyed one of our favourite house-sits ever in Trinity Beach, Cairns. We got to take care of a beautiful home and two labradoodle dogs, they were gorgeous. We love the Aussie Housesitters website to take housesitting gigs around the country. Check it out if it interests you, and use our referral code VMYBJ5 to join up with Aussie House Sitters and receive a $10 discount off your membership!
International borders are open!
Our faces when we found out that borders are OPEN!
Early November arrived and we were still in Cairns. It was here that we received news that international borders are opening back up near the end of November! We had our eye on one country to go and visit while we can, Libya. We made some quick enquiries to arrange a trip there and looked at international flights online.
Wow, we found a flight on Skyscanner.com (all the best flight deals are found here) from Melbourne to Berlin for an incredibly low price. It was with a low cost, long haul airline called FlyScoot. How was that price even possible? We booked it there and then in the hope that we could make other arrangements for a trip to Libya all come together.
Ok, international borders are open, it’s early November and we’ve just booked a flight to Europe for the end of the month. We had to start driving home, we had a good 3000km or so to cover to reach home.
We took a detour to the Libyan embassy in Canberra on the way and lodged our visa, left our passports with them and continued driving home to Victoria.
It’s always a nice feeling to arrive home and see family. We unpacked Frida, gave her a spring clean and parked her up in the backyard of my parent’s home. Now, we just had to wait for our Libyan visas to be approved and our passports to be returned quickly by mail.
After an anxious few days, they arrived! We had our visa, yes!
Let’s leave Australia!
Libyan visa – TICK! The highlight of our review of 2021 is getting this difficult visa.
Tunisia & Libya
After our super cheap flight from Melbourne to Berlin via Singapore, we felt amazing! We got so much sleep on both flights. There was barely anybody else on board, so we got to stretch out and rest.
We then flew to Tripoli in Libya and spent almost a week discovering this fascinating country. It was great to reach our country number 187, leaving only 8 countries left on our adventure to visit them all. Have you seen our map of where we’ve been and the countries we’ve got left to visit?
We had such a good time here and the ancient Roman cities here absolutely blew us away. Both Leptis Magna and the city of Sabratha were incredible places to visit. So far, the best Roman ruins we’ve ever seen.
Leptis Magna was incredible!
We received many questions about what it’s really like to visit Libya, as it is one of the least visited countries in the world. Also, there isn’t too much information to be found out there about it.
After Libya, we returned to Tunisia and explored the country for a further two weeks and had a fantastic time! You can head to our Tunisia destination page on our website to learn more about our thoughts on this country.
We had planned to enter Israel in early December (this country is still on our unvisited list), but Covid strikes again! We booked our flights to Tel Aviv, Israel from Tunisia, and literally the following day we woke to the news that it had just closed its borders to tourists and couldn’t give a date for re-opening. *sigh*
Plan B or C
We extended our time and explored a little more of Tunisia before booking flights to return to Europe for Christmas with Marty’s family. We flew into Prague, the Czech Republic first to stay with Marty’s sister and it was a good excuse to spend time in one of our favourite cities in the world.
As we write this, it’s lightly snowing outside as we sip on traditional Slovak herbal liqueur while watching Christmas movies on the couch. It’s nice, really nice.
Our plan for the future
If we counted the number of times we’ve been asked “What’s your plans” over the past few years, we’d be very rich!
The honest answer is, who knows? Ideally, we’d love to be able to travel to the remaining 8 countries left on our list, but in reality, that still unfortunately may take some time. The nations in the South Pacific that we have left to visit are closed and they don’t look like opening back up anytime soon. So, it’s anyone’s guess where we’ll go.
For now, we’re just happy that we have our health, time to spend with family and the freedom again to travel internationally if we wish. You may see us pop up in South East Asia or perhaps South America, it’s undecided – and that’s OK with us.
Travel Insurance for 2022
Last thing before we go. We recently discovered a Travel Insurance company created by travellers, for travellers – and they’re awesome! We’d been searching for a travel insurance company that offers coverage for Covid, and SafetyWing Travel Insurance do. They even cover unexpected quarantine. They offer Travel Medical Insurance that covers people from all over the world, while outside their home country and their plans are very competitive.
So, tell us how your 2021 has been? What are your plans for 2022? Are you on the no-plan plan too? We’d love to hear from you, leave us a comment below and let us know.
Rach is a self-confessed travelling foodie. Her passion for food and culture has seen her eat her way through 187 countries. She's currently on a big food adventure to visit EVERY country in the world!
When Rach isn't travelling, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee or wine with friends or chowing down on the best eats around her home city of Melbourne, Australia.