Touring the World With Your Finest Good friend at Any Age


“It’s By no means Too Late” is a sequence that tells the tales of people that determine to pursue their goals on their very own phrases.


When Eleanor Hamby and Dr. Sandra Hazelip met greater than 20 years in the past, it was finest mates at first sight. They by no means imagined that, in the future, their friendship could be featured on information exhibits, get joked about on “Saturday Night time Stay” and cease individuals of their tracks in a Tokyo practice station to exclaim, “Oh my God, you’re the TikTok touring grannies!”

Ms. Hamby, 81, and Dr. Hazelip, 82, have impressed individuals all around the globe with their mission “Across the World in 80 Days: At 81 and Nonetheless on the Run,” named in homage to Jules Verne’s Nineteenth-century journey novel. Their travels earlier this yr took them from the icy shores of Antarctica to the rocky majesty of the Grand Canyon, and racked up greater than one million likes from hundreds of followers alongside the best way. “We completely, completely weren’t anticipating this,” Ms. Hamby mentioned.

The ladies first crossed paths of their late 50s at a Christian medical mission in Zambia the place Ms. Hamby, a documentary photographer, was the director and Dr. Hazelip, a current widow, had come as a visiting doctor. 5 years later, Ms. Hamby’s husband additionally died, unexpectedly. Dr. Hazelip was trying to transfer her medical observe to Abilene, Texas, the place Ms. Hamby lived, however didn’t need to totally relocate. So, Dr. Hazelip made her pal a suggestion. “She mentioned, ‘In the event you’ll give me a mattress two nights per week, I’ll take you out to eat,’” Ms. Hamby recalled.

It was throughout these weekly visits that they found a shared love of journey. “Sooner or later, I mentioned: Ellie, I’ve at all times wished to journey the trans-Siberian practice. Do you assume that’s one thing we might go on as a visit collectively?” Dr. Hazelip recalled. That was their first huge journey, in 2008, and journeys to Southeast Asia and the Center East adopted in 2010 and 2011.

On their first few journeys, the pair used a weblog to maintain their family and friends up to date. For the 80-day tour, a pal helped them arrange accounts on Instagram and TikTok, and shortly hundreds of followers world wide have been alongside for the journey.

“Folks saved saying how a lot we have been an inspiration — an inspiration for a good friendship, an inspiration to get out and do issues,” Ms. Hamby mentioned. The entire expertise “has positively been a life changer.” They usually’re not stopping.

The buddies can’t journey on a regular basis — they each nonetheless work, Dr. Hazelip at a hospice middle and Ms. Hamby for the medical mission — however their subsequent journey, round South America, is already within the works for 2024, Dr. Hazelip mentioned. “And our theme shall be: ‘We Are 82, and Journey We Can Do.’” (The next interview has been edited and condensed.)

How did you propose your 80-day journey world wide?

ELEANOR HAMBY: Effectively, we began with the guide: “Across the World in 80 Days,” by Jules Verne.

DR. SANDRA HAZELIP: We wished to go to as many cities because the protagonist, Phileas Fogg, supposedly went to on his journey. We additionally knew that we positively wished to go to all seven continents; he didn’t try this. After which we wished to see as many wonders or pure wonders of the world as we might.

HAMBY: Ultimately, we wound up going to 18 international locations, and eight wonders. Sandy made a Phrase doc for each single day of the journey. We at all times begin with lodging, determining the place in a metropolis we need to keep, as a result of location is No. 1. We actually simply want a spot that’s clear, as a result of we don’t spend an entire lot of time within the resort. After which we search for the perfect worth. We love to search out these gem little inns, like the place we stayed in Cairo: $13.50 an individual an evening. It wasn’t a typical place most vacationers would keep — we needed to get to it within the alley — however we had a million-dollar view on the rooftop. We take pleasure within the funds.

HAZELIP: Folks will say, “I want I might afford a visit.” I say, “Effectively, you purchased a brand new automobile final yr. I went world wide in 80 days.”

HAMBY: If there’s an enormous, thrilling factor we all know we need to do, like snorkeling within the Nice Barrier Reef, we’ll ask the resort to advocate an organization and guide that prematurely, too. The remainder, we go away it as much as the locals to inform us.

How do you adapt when a wrench is thrown into your plans on the final minute?

HAMBY: Sandy and I mainly have a optimistic outlook on an issue. It’s not like, “Oh woe is me, what are we going to do,” crying. No, we see the issue, and we all know there’s an answer on the market. We’ve simply received to maintain a transparent thoughts and a smile on our face, and the answer will come.

Was journey at all times an enormous a part of your lives?

HAMBY: I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma, in a really rural space, and I actually didn’t journey in any respect. However I used to be consistently studying about individuals like Amelia Earhart or books by authors like Pearl S. Buck. I simply had an actual curiosity in any girl who was exploring. My husband and I married once I was 18, and after we completed school we made an actual funds journey to Mexico Metropolis. That was the start, as a result of we found out we didn’t need to be rich to journey, and we might take pleasure in it.

HAZELIP: My husband and I, our travels have been mainly to household reunions in Kentucky or to go to grandparents. Our first actual journey, after our kids have been grown, was a Caribbean cruise. That was a lot enjoyable, but it surely was additionally rather more my husband’s type of trip.

HAMBY: Sandy and I aren’t cruise individuals. We wish to journey to fulfill the locals, not different vacationers.

HAZELIP: Shortly earlier than my husband received sick, he planted a seed in my coronary heart to begin taking our grandsons on mission journeys within the summertime. And so, after he died, once I discovered about Zambia Medical Mission, I made a decision to go on that journey and take a grandson. That’s how Ellie and I grew to become acquainted. And the journey has simply exploded since.

What’s your favourite factor about touring collectively?

HAMBY: Sandy hugs everybody — not just a bit informal hug, an excellent hug — and she or he’s at all times smiling. I actually like that about her. I’ve by no means been a hugger; my household can inform you that. It’s not my psyche. However Sandy has taught me to be extra open with individuals. It’s been actually lovely to see how individuals all around the world wanted Sandy’s hug.

HAZELIP: Ellie has taught me that it’s essential to be on the proper place at sunup and sunset so you will get the fitting mild for that good image. And he or she’s simply so enjoyable.

HAMBY: We have been simply lucky that we crossed paths and got here into one another’s lives after we did. While you lose a partner, it’s very tough, and it’s great to have a pal that has had the identical expertise and understands how one can be a pal to somebody when that occurs. A robust friendship is absolutely essential to the grieving course of.

How do you reply to your households after they fear about your embarking on these huge journeys or say, ‘Grandma, are you positive you need to be traipsing round Lapland or Bali by yourself?’

HAZELIP: I can run circles round you, child. On synthetic knees.

HAMBY: We inform everybody: “We didn’t go on a trip. We went on an journey.” And we by no means missed a day; we have been both on an journey, or we have been flying. That’s why not too many individuals will journey with us. My children wish to calm down on the seaside. They need to keep at dearer inns.

HAZELIP: That’s not an journey for us.

What recommendation would you give to individuals who have been dreaming of an journey like yours?

HAZELIP: Rise up out of your simple chair. Step out of your consolation zone. Make some plans and dwell.

HAMBY: Age is barely a quantity. In the event you assume you need to strive one thing, don’t be afraid to step out. Do it. Since you’re going to remorse in case you don’t, and you’ll by no means remorse in case you do.

What have your travels taught you?

HAMBY: Belief in individuals, as a result of they’re mainly good. Simply attain out and smile. Significantly, a smile will deliver friendship. It should open doorways. It should knock down that barrier or make that individual extra possible to assist when you will have an issue. I assure you’re going to have a a lot happier journey and also you’re going to fulfill an entire lot extra individuals in case you’re smiling.





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