In the past, a nice bonding experience between a grandparent and grandchild might have been baking cookies or learning how to knit. Today, grandparents are branching out with different kinds of experiences to build relationships with their grandchildren.

Multi-generational travel has been a growing segment for several years now, which means it can hardly be considered an emerging trend anymore. As families continue to find new ways to create experiences and memories together, multi-generational travel has morphed to include “skip-gen” travel.

What is “skip-gen travel”?

Skip-gen travel is a trip in which grandparents spend quality time with their grandchildren only. Skip-gen getaways are focused on grandparents bonding with their grandchildren sans parents. The name for this type of travel has been happening since at least the mid-1980s and has grown in popularity in the last several years.

Why is “skip-gen travel” gradually taking over multi-generational travel?

The proliferation of this type of travel has emerged as the baby boomer generation moves into retirement and is looking for ways to combine bonding with family and exploring the world. Often such trips are planned to mark certain milestones for the grandchildren, grandparents or the family.

“What’s driving skip-gen travel is that many grandparents these days are healthier and more active than they were in the past,” said Rainer Jenss, president and founder of the Family Travel Association.

“Skip-gen” travel involving grandparents and grandchildren is an important market for travel advisors to pay attention to. Not only are grandparents more active these days, many see travel as a rare bonding opportunity with grandchildren. A lot of grandparents want to pass down shared experiences with their grandchildren instead of just giving them money. Another factor behind the trend is that retired grandparents have more flexibility to travel than the middle generation does.

A recent study of 2,000 grandparents and great-grandparents by Parkdean Resorts found that 71 percent of them feel happier after spending time with their grandchildren.

Other family travel experts also note that since many families now live far apart and that children often have busy schedules, the time that grandparents get to spend with their grandchildren is often limited. Therefore, skip-gen holidays make for a brilliant gift to mark a graduation, big birthday or other special occasions for the grandchildren, according to TravelPulse.

Also, many behavior analysts agree that children tend to be better behaved when their parents aren’t there.

While the grandparents enjoy quality time with the kids, it allows the parents to stay at home or book their own getaway without the children. It is a win-win situation for all three generations.

Moreover, planning a skip-gen vacation is, somehow, a bit easier for travel advisors than planning a multi-generational trip where the needs of three or more generations need to be acquired.

Challenges from “skip-gen travel”

There can be some challenges to skip-gen vacations, including potential behavior issues or awkwardness between grandparents and grandchildren who don’t know each other that well. What travel advisors do need to be aware of with skip-gen travel is that getting the grandchildren involved with the planning is crucial. Even if the grandparents think they know what the kids like to do, the information might not be current.

Physical differences are also a hindrance when it comes to searching for activities that both grandparents and grandchildren can do together. For example, a skip-gen trip which involves long hiking will not be very suitable for grandparents although it may be something the grandchildren love to try. Rafting, on the other hand, is something grandparents can do even when their knees aren’t so great yet still involving physical strength that may interest the grandchildren.

Furthermore, the grandparents’ hobbies can be totally different from those of their grandchildren, which makes it hard to find a middle ground. Travel styles also vary from generation to generation. Studies show that Gen Z travelers value unique, adventure experiences such as exploring and trying new things more than anything else. Baby boomers are also interested in ‘bucket-list’ travel, while also exhibiting a penchant for more traditional travel experiences (such as sightseeing or touring) and opportunities to relax and unwind. Millennials, on the other hand, seem to seek out relaxation and local experiences, with 86% stating they would rather experience a new culture, compared to 44% who prefer to party or 28% who prefer to shop.

As such, settings and accommodations that provide these groups from different generations with the ability to connect as a whole, but also enjoy experiences separately or in smaller groups, are sure to strike a chord. Many hotels around the globe are rising to this occasion, finding creative ways to attract and engage with skip-gen vacations. This can include specialized packages and incentives with perks and experiences catered to different groups within the family, unique amenities, and flexible accommodation styles.

Source: Destination Review