New Trend: Grandparents Vacationing With Grandchildren
‘Skip-gen' travel gives them time to connect and make memories
Christina Ianzito, AARP, April
With so many grandparents living hundreds of miles from their
grandchildren, some are turning to a fun way to bridge the distance:
vacationing together. About 40 percent of grandparents say they travel with
their grandchildren, according to a new "Grandparents
Today" survey from AARP Research. They report spending an
average $1,746 a year on these trips.
found that three-quarters of grandparents had traveled with three or more
generations in the past year, while others chose "skip-gen" travel — vacationing
with the grandkids alone, minus the middle generation. About one-third of
grandparents have taken their grandchildren on skip-gen trips.
Gierer, 74, in Westport, Conn., is one fan of skip-gen travel: She took her
oldest grandson, Andrew, who lives in Virginia, on a nearly two-week group trip
through the Western U.S. two years ago, when he was 16. "It was a very special
trip," says Gierer. Their Insight Vacations adventure took them to the Grand
Canyon, Zion National Park, Las Vegas, up through Utah to Yellowstone, then
South Dakota and home from Denver.
"We really bonded," she says. "He opened up to me about a
lot of things in his life, talking every night until like 12, 12:30, 1 o'clock.
I'm a night person, but I thought, I'm going to collapse at the end of this.
But it was just adorable, so I didn't mind."
tour wasn't aimed specifically at multigenerational groups, Road Scholar's offerings include
155 trips just for grandparents and their grandkids — from a Tanzanian safari
to a snorkeling adventure in Florida. Working to appeal to different interests,
the group leaders will sometimes briefly separate the kids and adults for
targeted activities: At a museum, for instance, the children might be led on a
scavenger hunt while the grownups join a docent-led tour.
Brock, 81, has taken her oldest granddaughter, Lilly, on seven
intergenerational Road Scholar trips over the past seven
years. Their first, when Lilly was 9, was a five-day program in
Philadelphia — "close to home, in case it didn't work out," explains Brock, who
lives in Lincoln, Mass. She admits that they were both a little nervous about
whether they'd enjoy the experience, "but I was thrilled with it. We got home
and Lilly said to me, ‘I'm available to travel with you whenever you want
they'll take their eighth trip together, this one to Lisbon, Portugal — their
most distant adventure yet. "I know it's a big expense," says Brock, "but these
are the things that are worth it."