Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×

Search

Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Friends Make the Most of Traveling Around the World in 80 Days at 81

Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby shared the trip of a lifetime

Video: At 81, Adventurous BFFs Traveled the World in 80 Days

For Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby, both 82, a fondness for the book Around the World in 80 Days prompted them to venture out on their own journey at 80. The pandemic delayed, but didn’t halt, their trip. When Hazelip, a hospice medical director, and Hamby, a documentary photographer, completed their trip at 81, they had visited seven continents and 18 countries.

Hazelip, who lives in Eastland, Texas, and Hamby, who lives in Abilene, Texas, spoke to AARP about their journey and what they learned along the way.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

Sandy Hazelip: Our friendship has always meant travel. Ellie is the codirector of Zambia Medical Mission, and I’m a physician. In 2000, shortly after my husband died, I signed up for my first mission trip to rural Zambia with ZMM, to provide health care in the bush. That’s where Ellie and I became friends.

Ellie Hamby: Five years later, my husband passed away suddenly, right when Sandy was moving her medical practice to our city, Abilene, from her home 60 miles away. She called me and said, “I’ve got a deal for you. I need a place to stay in Abilene two nights a week. If you’ll give me a bed, I’ll take you out to eat.” That was 18 years ago. It’s never stopped. She was just here last night.

Sandy: A few years ago we were talking about our upcoming 80th birthdays, and I blurted out, “Ellie, wouldn’t it be fun to go around the world in 80 days when we turn 80?”

Ellie: I said, “Why not!”

Sandy: We got a little delayed by the COVID pandemic, but this year we did it, before our 82nd birthdays. We toured the globe in exactly 80 days.

spinner image left ellie hamby right sandy hazelip australia vacation
Ellie Hamby, left, and Sandy Hazelip, both 82, went on an 80-day odyssey when they were 81.
Courtesy Sandy Hazelip and Ellie Hamby

Ellie: On our trip, we experienced so many mysteries. The moai statues on Easter Island, with their enormous heads and torsos carved from hardened volcanic ash. Who created them, and why? The incredibly sophisticated toilets in Japan — we couldn’t figure them out!

Sandy: We kept a pretty tight budget for ourselves. We’d decide exactly where we wanted to stay — for example, in Santiago, Chile, we targeted the beautiful old square. Then we’d look up the ratings for local lodgings, and among the top-rated places, we’d book the cheapest one.

Ellie: The ratings aren’t based on the price; they’re based on how much people like it. So our average lodging cost was $29 per night, per person. We always shared a room. The cheapest stay was $13.50 per person for a place in Cairo overlooking the pyramid of Cheops. Which is a million-dollar view.

Sandy: There were so many times when people stepped up to offer help or just to wish us well. What makes the world feel small isn’t the relative ease of traveling great distances by plane, train or ship, or even making hotel reservations with a click on the computer.

Ellie: I agree. The real gift is experiencing firsthand that no matter where you go, no matter how people dress or what language they speak, we’re all much more alike than we are different. ​​

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?

AARP Travel Center

Or Call: 1-800-675-4318

Enter a valid departing date

Enter a valid returning date

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Enter a valid departing date

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Enter a valid departing date

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Flight 2

Enter a valid departing date

Flight 3

Enter a valid departing date

Flight 4

Enter a valid departing date

Flight 5

Enter a valid departing date

+ Add Another Flight

Enter a valid checking in date

Enter a valid checking out date


Occupants of Room 1:



Occupants of Room 2:



Occupants of Room 3:



Occupants of Room 4:



Occupants of Room 5:



Occupants of Room 6:



Occupants of Room 7:



Occupants of Room 8:


Enter a valid departing date

Enter a valid returning date

Age of children:

Occupants of Room 1:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 2:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 3:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 4:

Age of children:


Occupants of Room 5:

Age of children:

Age of children:

Child under 2 must either sit in laps or in seats:

Enter a valid start date

Enter a valid drop off date

Select a valid to location

Select a month

Enter a valid from date

Enter a valid to date