If you’ve ever dreamed about taking a driving holiday around the country or even the world, Ivan and Beth Hodge’s story could be just the inspiration you’ve been looking for.
The New Zealand couple have replicated a road trip they took around the world together in the 1960s and it’s inspiring other over-60s to take the holiday they’ve been dreaming about for years.
Ivan and Beth, now both in their 80s, were only newlyweds and living in London in 1960 when they decided to buy a ride and head off around the world.
They ended up purchasing a Volkswagen Beetle for £439 ($840) and set their minds to driving it all the way home to New Zealand.
They packed their car full to the brim and tied down whatever they couldn’t fit into the car on the roof. Then they were off.
They drove all through Europe, the Middle East, and into the Asian subcontinent, before jumping on a cargo ship headed for Kolkata, India, and eventually Auckland.
The couple spent most of their journey out of touch with what was going on in the outside world, and collected letters from their family at post offices in Istanbul, Tehran and Pakistan.
“We weren’t up to date with the news because we didn’t have a telephone. We didn’t really know what the hell was going on in the world,” Ivan told Traveller.
“We were conscious of communism. We were fearful of it. We really didn’t need to be as fearful, but that’s the way it had been built up.”
Beth added: “I think a lot was based on what we had read or heard, and a lot was unfounded. Really, it was a very easy trip for us.”
Since they finished their journey, Ivan and Beth have been dreaming about recreating their amazing holiday.
The pair kept the old Volkswagen Beetle for the last thirty-five years and decided to take it for another ride around the world.
They set of once more to retrace their steps across the continents, but this time they were equipped with enough modern technology like phones and laptops to keep them in touch with their family.
“Driving into Eastern Turkey was a risky area because there was a war,” Ivan said.
“We were warned not to drive at night, in case we broke down and were taken hostage.
“The Embassy said ‘don’t go’, but they always say that, don’t they?”
“It’s not high-class travel. It’s travel with the best available. Modest transport, self-catering – we’re not going to fancy restaurants. It’s all affordable stuff. Anyone can do it,” Ivan said.
Once again, the couple’s trusty Beetle brought them home safely. They are planning one last trip in their beloved car – a drive around North Island.
Ivan said it was the “end of an era” for the car and their road trips.
“The thing about the Beetle is it’s been going for so long and it identifies with so many people,” he said.
“For many, it’s their first car. Many of them have lovely experiences in the Beetle, as we have.
“It’s been the third person in our marriage.”