Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.
Two 81-year-old best friends turned explorers, have recently returned home from a truly unforgettable adventure – an 80-day expedition across all seven continents.
Sandy Hazelip of Eastland, Texas, and Ellie Hamby of Abilene, Texas, both health professionals, met 23 years ago while attending a medical mission. From that day on, they have been inseparable.
Around five years before their 80th birthdays, Sandy had a crazy idea come to her, “I just mentioned to Ellie, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun when we turned 80 to go around the world in 80 days?’ Ellie’s eyes got big and she said, ‘Well, yes.’”
Taking inspiration from the 1872 novel, “Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne, their original idea was to travel the year they turned 80, but COVID put a stop to those plans.
After waiting until the pandemic, and the resulting travel restrictions, subsided, the new motto “81 and still on the run” was born. The two grandmothers hit 18 countries from January to March this year and have since taken the internet by storm.
This wasn’t a luxury, all-inclusive trip either, with the average cost of hotels coming to just $29 per person each night. Hamby said, “They were not American or fancy European hotels at all. They were local places that were just adorable, and the people are wonderful.”
First heading to Argentina, the two then boarded an expedition ship to Antarctica. Their adventure continued to some of the most treasured destinations on Earth, such as the awe-inspiring Great Barrier Reef, majestic Mount Fuji, and the iconic Taj Mahal. Although it was Easter Island and Bali that took their hearts, the exotic wildlife and stunning landscapes being the top highlight of their trip.
The pair didn’t skip a beat during their 80-day adventure, full of vibrant life and energy. “We never missed a day. We were always out having an adventure or flying. We never spent one day in the hotel to sleep,” said Ellie.
Now mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, both women said their families were mostly supportive of their young-at-heart spirits.
Ellie’s family are used to her travels and are big advocates of exploring themselves. Sandy’s family was a little more reserved in their enthusiasm, “My family worries about me a little bit when I’m traveling with Ellie because they know what a daredevil she is,” Sandy said.
After losing both husbands, the two said they had no fears of traveling around the world. “If we fall off an iceberg in Antarctica or off a mountain, our husbands are waiting for us in heaven,” Ellie said. “So, it’s all good.”
By the time they set foot on US soil again, Sandy and Ellie were internet celebrities. Whilst waiting in the arrivals section of LAX, a woman came running up to them saying, “Are you the TikTok traveling grannies?” to which the two nodded. The woman said how much she had loved watching and cheering the duo on, giving her the inspiration to do something similar with her best friend.
Neither adventurer plans to hang up their explorer boots either, with a ‘We are 82 and travel we can do’ trip in preparation. “We are going to go to South America and see some of the world wonders we missed this time. If our health holds out, we will go to a couple of continents a year and fill in.”
“…my advice is get up out of that easy chair, step out of your comfort zone, make some plans and live. Remember that age is only a number.” – Sandy Hazelip