Octogenarian best pals travel the world for 80 days

Ellie and Sandy on their travels
‘Our theme was, “At 81 and still on the run”‘ (Picture: Facebook/ Around the World at 80)

A pair of 81-year-old friends from Texas have given us big time life goals by going on the globe-trotting adventure of a lifetime.

Best pals Ellie Hamby, a documentary photographer, and Dr Sandy Hazelip, a physician and lecturer, have made it around the world in 80 days.

The two widows have visited all seven continents, 18 countries and eight world wonders during their impressive travels, which started on January 11, according to their blog.

It was on this blog that they also explained they were dedicating their trip to their late husbands, Don and Kelly, writing: ‘We miss you and wish you were joining our adventure.’

Speaking to CNN, Ellie said: ‘We’re both independent, very stubborn. But we seem to allow each other to give space.

‘We just understand each other. We know this is a good thing we’re doing and we respect each other’s feelings.’

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Sandy first met Ellie after her husband died in 1999. Before he passed away, Sandy said he ‘planted the seed in my heart’ that they should start taking their grandkids on mission trips during the summer break. This seed is what took her all the way to the Zambia Medical Mission, which was run by Ellie and her husband.

The two women bonded over a shared love of travel, and grew even closer after Ellie’s husband passed away.

Best friends, Sandy & Ellie at the Livingstone National Game Park in Zambia, Africa
Best friends, Sandy and Ellie at the Livingstone National Game Park in Zambia, Africa (Picture: Around the world at 80)
Best friends, Sandy & Ellie at Lapland, Finland:
Zipping through Lapland (Picture: Around the world at 80)
Best friends, Sandy & Ellie in Antarctica
Meeting some penguins (Picture: Around the world at 80)
Best friends, Sandy & Ellie in Zanzibar
Living it up in Zanzibar (Picture: Around the world at 80)

It was Sandy who first had the idea that they should embark on their massive 80-day journey.

She said: ‘I just got the idea because we had travelled previously together internationally.

‘And so about four years before we were going to turn 80, I mentioned to her one day, “Ellie, wouldn’t it be fun to go around the world in 80 days at age 80?”‘

Best friends, Sandy & Ellie at the Vatican
‘We just understand each other’ (Picture: Around the world at 80)
Ellie in a previous trip to Zambia in 2012 Best friends, Sandy & Ellie
Making new pals (Picture: Around the world at 80)
Best friends, Sandy & Ellie in Finland during The Aurora Borealis
‘Every single day was an adventure’ (Picture: Around the world at 80)
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While they’d first planned to embark on the trip when they were both 80, Covid resulted in a slight delay.

‘So we went this year,’ said Sandy, ‘and our theme was, “At 81 and still on the run.”‘

During their months-long journey, the two saw penguins in the Antarctic, rode camels through Egypt, met elephants in Bali, and gazed out at the Northern Lights in Finland.

Aside from things like deciding not to ride a motorcycle in Bali for fear of falling, they say their age hasn’t held them back.

And even though they’re back home in Texas now, the two are planning to go on another adventure already.

Ellie, whose favourite part of the trip was the people they met along the way, said: ‘We always say when we started this, we did not plan a vacation. We planned an adventure.

‘And every single day was an adventure.’

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