“It’s By no means Too Late” is a collection that tells the tales of people that determine to pursue their desires on their very own phrases.
When Eleanor Hamby and Dr. Sandra Hazelip met greater than 20 years in the past, it was greatest buddies at first sight. They by no means imagined that, in the future, their friendship can be featured on information exhibits, get joked about on “Saturday Evening Reside” 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 12 months took them from the icy shores of Antarctica to the rocky majesty of the Grand Canyon, and racked up greater than 1,000,000 likes from 1000’s of followers alongside the way in which. “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 apply to Abilene, Texas, the place Ms. Hamby lived, however didn’t wish to absolutely relocate. So, Dr. Hazelip made her buddy a proposal. “She mentioned, ‘When you’ll give me a mattress two nights every 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. “At some point, I mentioned: Ellie, I’ve at all times wished to trip the trans-Siberian practice. Do you assume that’s one thing we may go on as a visit collectively?” Dr. Hazelip recalled. That was their first large 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 buddy helped them arrange accounts on Instagram and TikTok, and shortly 1000’s of followers around the globe have been alongside for the trip.
“Folks stored 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 intend your 80-day journey around the globe?
ELEANOR HAMBY: Effectively, we began with the e book: “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 may.
HAMBY: Ultimately, we wound up going to 18 nations, 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 wish 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 one of the best worth. We love to seek out these gem little lodges, 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 delight within the finances.
HAZELIP: Folks will say, “I want I may afford a visit.” I say, “Effectively, to procure a brand new automotive final 12 months. I went around the globe in 80 days.”
HAMBY: If there’s an enormous, thrilling factor we all know we wish to do, like snorkeling within the Nice Barrier Reef, we’ll ask the resort to advocate an organization and e book that prematurely, too. The remaining, 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 principally have a constructive 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 obtained 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 always 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 after I was 18, and after we completed faculty we made an actual finances 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 may take pleasure in it.
HAZELIP: My husband and I, our travels have been principally to household reunions in Kentucky or to go to grandparents. Our first actual journey, after our youngsters have been grown, was a Caribbean cruise. That was a lot enjoyable, however it was additionally rather more my husband’s type of trip.
HAMBY: Sandy and I should not cruise individuals. We prefer to journey to fulfill the locals, not different vacationers.
HAZELIP: Shortly earlier than my husband obtained 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, after 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, a very good 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 let you know that. It’s not my psyche. However Sandy has taught me to be extra open with individuals. It’s been actually stunning to see how individuals all around the world wanted Sandy’s hug.
HAZELIP: Ellie has taught me that it’s crucial to be on the proper place at sunup and sunset so you will get the appropriate gentle 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 once we did. If you lose a partner, it’s very tough, and it’s fantastic to have a buddy that has had the identical expertise and understands the right way to be a buddy to somebody when that occurs. A robust friendship is actually essential to the grieving course of.
How do you reply to your households after they fear about your embarking on these large journeys or say, ‘Grandma, are you certain you wish 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 prefer to calm down on the seashore. They wish to keep at costlier lodges.
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 just a quantity. When you assume you wish to strive one thing, don’t be afraid to step out. Do it. Since you’re going to remorse for those who don’t, and you’ll by no means remorse for those who do.
What have your travels taught you?
HAMBY: Belief in individuals, as a result of they’re principally good. Simply attain out and smile. Severely, a smile will carry friendship. It’s going to open doorways. It’s going to knock down that barrier or make that particular person extra probably to assist when you’ve gotten 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 for those who’re smiling.