Leaving with a van for months, travelling to nature and making new friends all over the world - the 1970s was the beginning of discovering yourself by travelling, mostly with a car. In this blog, we take you back to the time where self-discovery became important and people took off to India for months, but also when Spain was discovered, and mass tourism took off.
In the late 60s and early 70s, people were looking for more in life than just having children and working. Their ambition was growing, people were looking for more meaning in life. More and more young people were looking for an outlet and searching for that meaning. A way to get more out of life and make new special memories.
The Beatles eventually set the trend: they went to India for a few months in search of their inner peace. Many young people were inspired by this and saw it as a way out. It wasn't hard to buy a car and start traveling from country to country to eastern Europe. It was fairly easy to buy all the stuff you needed for a roadtrip and set off towards the next country. Where Volkswagen vans are now seen as nostalgic, at that time they were brand new and immensely popular.
Driving or hitchhiking
Didn't have the money to buy a car or campervan? Then you put your thumb up and hitchhiked to the east side of Europe - or even a bit further. Pakistan, Afghanistan and India were popular destinations for those looking for adventure. By the early 1970s hippies had grown enormously in popularity, which resulted in the birth of the so-called ‘Hippie Trail’. This was a route taken by many hippies from western Europe to India and Nepal, but it was also popular among people who were keen to discover new things. A journey full of nature, new culture and special people.
By travelling this way, they also came into contact with the locals a lot. If you set up your tent somewhere in a small village in the mountains, chances where you would go for a walk through the village centre to eat somewhere or do some shopping. This made it easy to absorb the culture and connect with the locals. This sometimes took them to the most extraordinary places; from people's homes to remote beaches and high cliffs with fantastic views. It was an adventure where you could really immerse yourself in other people's cultures.
Not everyone was driving east with a van, but getting out into nature seemed to be a trend loved by all. It was a time when nature was being rediscovered. The 1973 oil crisis also helped this. People wanted at least a few days away from the hectic of everyday life. It was not uncommon to put up your tent in the car or set out in the caravan. Once in nature, people could relax again; many also discovered new hobbies. Painting, reading or making things themselves were popular - in short, hobbies where people took a break from their everyday lives, but where they could clear their minds.
Going out on a roadtrip did require a bit more preparation in the 1970s, than it does now. Whereas now you can easily google what the best places are to set up your tent or park your campervan, back then that wasn't an option. You had to work out in advance where you were going, what there was to do and what you needed. It was a matter of good preparation, but also of minimalistic living. By using as little as possible, you could travel longer.
Mass tourism in Spain
The 1970s was also the start of mass tourism in Spain. Not all the adventurers of the early 1970s headed to the east of Europe, many also headed south. The positive stories of these travellers ensured that more people took an interest in the sunny country. After all, it had everything they were looking for at the time: sun, sea, peace and quiet, and good food. The neighbourly countries were no longer far enough. Travelling by plane was not an option yet; in the 1970s, air travel was only for the rich. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the first cheaper all-inclusive flight holidays were offered by travel agencies.
And so there was no other way to travel south than by campervan or car - into which you then put a tent or hung a caravan behind. Just as to the east, a popular route to Spain appeared: Route du Soleil. Before that route existed, you had to drive via the National 7 and it'd take a while. You had to drive past many villages, while Route du Soleil ensured that people could quickly get to Spain to enjoy their beach holidays.
Travelling in the 1970s and now
In some areas, travelling in the 1970s still looks a lot like travelling today. Today, for instance, we are increasingly hitting the road again by car or van. We crave that sense of freedom again, where we don't have to stick to a tight flight schedule. Where we can decide to go to Paris today, but still choose to make a diversion via the French Alps tomorrow. We go back into nature; where some people still opt for the luxury of glamping, pitching a tent somewhere in the Netherlands is increasingly chosen. For a while, turn off that mobile phone and focus on yourself. And the minimalism of those days has also found its way back into these present times. Travelling around Asia for three months with a backpack is no longer abnormal. Or spending months on the road with a camper van, where you constantly use the same stuff.
With the Fab Seventies collection, we have drawn a lot of inspiration from the 1970s. Want to know more about this era and how it is still relatable in our daily lives to this day? Read the blog The 1970s and today | Back to balance.