Valentines Day 2017
Celebrating Industry Couples: Bruce & Claire Hodge: After 40 Years, The Adventure Continues

Open Jaw

It sounds like it was love at first sight on a bus many years ago for (then) tour leader Bruce Hodge and (then) wide-eyed group member Claire Hodge, now respectively president and vice-president, administration at Goway Travel. Over 40 years later, the adventure continues!

How did you meet? Bruce: That’s an interesting question. It was 1969 and I was on my last tour of Europe for the season – I’d been guiding for three years, with groups from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and, as in Claire’s case, South Africa. This was an eight week, eight country tour. Claire: I’d been living in London for a year and had planned to take the nine week tour, but it was too much money, so we moved over to the eight week tour. Meanwhile, Bruce was supposed to lead that nine week tour but was switched to the eight, so you could say it was fate! We had a lot of fun.

First impressions? Bruce: I was walking up the bus introducing myself – there were about five guys and 30 girls – and when I got to Claire I thought, hm…she’s very attractive. Claire: I thought he was tall, dark, handsome, slim and fun. And Australian! Such a novelty. So we were in a great frame of mind as we set off! 

Do you remember your first date? Claire: I guess it was on the tour, though we were always with the group. I remember the first time we danced together, in Germany (in an army barracks, of all things, don’t ask me how we ended up there). And that was probably the start of our romance.

What happened when the tour finished? Claire: We got back to the UK and my sister decided to stay on…by January I had decided to go home and Bruce had decided to go to Canada and he asked me to join him. To get my immigration papers I moved back to South Africa – it took a whole year. 

When did you get married? Claire: In September 1973 – it was a small wedding. We had no money! I was working in the hotel business, for Western International (eventually Westin) and Bruce was starting the business. We hosted about 50 people at Fantasy Farm which is a lot nicer than it sounds! I regret that my parents couldn’t be there, but Bruce’s Mum was.

Where did you go on your honeymoon? Bruce: Now that’s a good question. Remember my mother’s here from Australia. So we did a driving honeymoon out to the east coast. And we took my mother along! Some of my friends were worried that my little car wouldn’t make it there and back so as their wedding gift they rented us a Dodge Charger. And labelled the seats: Groom. Bride. Mother.

What’s the most romantic destination you’ve travelled to? Claire: If you knew all the lovely places we’ve been – in recent years, not at the beginning. Overall I’d have to say Tahiti.

Do you recommend marrying someone who works in the same industry as you do? Bruce: I guess it comes down to who they are and what their interests are, rather than if they are in the business or not. At the beginning, remember, Claire had a regular job and could support me. We’ve worked together at Goway now since 1977 – and we’re still married! Claire: You’re on the same page with the issues that are going on. When times are tough you can be supportive of each other. You understand that there are times when you just have to put in long hours.

And the cons? Claire: It would be nice to sit at the dinner table and have conversations about something other than travel! And as both our kids (now in their 30s) work with us we don’t have family get-togethers as often as we might because we see them every day.

What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage? Claire: Patience. Understanding. And sometimes just try to see things from another person’s point of view. Bruce: Love.

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