Almost everybody likes to travel, and almost everybody has an excuse why they can’t. Maybe we have too much work to do, or not enough money. Maybe we’re too young to travel, or too old.
And then there are inspirational people like Eleanor Hamby and her bestie Dr. Sandra Hazelip. The New York Times chronicles how at the age of 81, they went on a journey that not only changed their lives but made them social media superstars: An 80-day trip around the world, inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel “Around the World in 80 Days.”
As you can see below, Hamby and Hazelip decided to record their adventures on their @aroundtheworldat80 account on TikTok, where they picked up tens of thousands of followers along with some famous fans.
@aroundtheworldat80 81 yr old #BestFriends travel Around the World in 80 days following in the footsteps of #PhileasFogg (Footage Credit: PhotosbyEllie.com) #bucketlist2023 #bffgoals #wondersoftheworld #bucketlist #bfftravelgoals #bfftravelgoals #egyptianpyramids #drakepassage #greatbarrierreef #tajmahal #easterisland #northernlights #mteverest #widowsoftiktok #grandmasoftiktok â¬ My Next Thirty Years
They’ve been profiled on Access Hollywood and lovingly roasted on “Saturday Night Live,” but these two friends didn’t embark on their trip for fame. According to the New York Times, the two met in Zambia at a medical mission. Hazelip was a physician whose husband had recently died, and Hamby was a documentary photographer. When Hamby became a widow years later, their friendship deepened over shared grief and the pair began staying together a couple days a week at Hamby’s home in Abilene, Texas.
With nothing to tie them down, the pair started checking off items on their bucket list. First came a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway in 2008, then trips to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. They kept records of each journey on a blog (accented by Hamby’s beautiful photos), but decided to set up Instagram and TikTok accounts for their “80 Days”-inspired jaunt, which they titled “Around the World in 80 Days: At 81 and Still on the Run.”
In fact, they ended up outdoing the protagonist of Jules Verne’s novel: Hamby and Hazelip visited all seven continents and 18 countries in 80 days, where Phileas Fogg only traveled to 11. (Not to mention the fact that Fogg was about half the age of Hamby and Hazelip.) From posing with penguins in Antarctica to balloon rides in Egypt, the pair made the most of every vacation day.
@aroundtheworldat80 Drake Passage vs Sandy & Ellie #drakepassagetok #drakepassage #thedrakepassage #travelover50 #bfftraveltime #antarcticatravel â¬ Rocky: Eye of the Tiger
It’s clear from the videos the two have plenty of spark, and they’re nowhere near burnt out from their epic trek. In fact, they’re already planning a jaunt to South America in 2024. If you’re feeling inspired by their adventures, you might be wondering how you can follow in their footsteps. Here are some tips we’ve learned from Hamby and Hazelip about traveling at any age.
- Set an agenda. “We did not go on a vacation. We went on an adventure,” Hamby told the New York Times. But that doesn’t mean they went into their trip without a plan. Hazelip did plenty of research, making a Word document for every day of the journey about what they wanted to do and where they were going to do it.
- Prioritize experience over elegance. The pair made sure every day was full of things to do, and that made things a lot easier — and cheaper — when it came to lodging. The pair went for rustic, local hotels over destination resorts, reasoning that they wouldn’t spend much time in the rooms anyway. As a result, they told Access Hollywood that their average hotel stay only cost them $29 per person per night, and one hidden gem in Cairo, Egypt only cost them $13.50.
@aroundtheworldat80 How much does it cost to travel around the World? #sandyandellie #bfftravels #bestfriendstravel #aroundtheworldin80days #grandmas #widowsoftiktok #mariolopez #accesshollywood #kithoover â¬ original sound – Around the World at 80
- Roll with the punches. Don’t be afraid to pivot if things don’t go your way, on vacation or in everyday life. Hamby and Hazelip certainly didn’t. They had actually planned to do their big “80 Days” trip at the more appropriate age of 80, but COVID-19 put the kibosh on that idea. Not for long, though: They were able to move the reservations and stay on target for the next year.
- Smiles are universal. SHamby and Hazelip are great at making social media friends, but if the videos are anything to go by, they’re even better at it in person. It’s clear that meeting and learning from new people was half the fun of travel for them. Their secret? “Trust in people, because they’re basically good,” Hamby says in her NYT interview. “Just reach out and smile. Seriously, a smile will bring friendship. It will open doors.”