News & Views

Trend or Foe? Is “Gramping” the New Big Thing?

As part of our new series, “Trend or Foe?,” looking at trends in the industry, we want to kick off with one of 2020’s new buzzwords: gramping. A play on grandparents and another trend, glamping, get ready to see this word more often this year. Travel+Leisure discussed it earlier last year, while Family Traveller presented a few ideas for gramping trips.

This new wave of multigenerational travel, which allows grandparents to bond with their grandchildren without the children’s parents in tow, may be the next big thing in travel, and the research is beginning to support what the media has already been saying. The 2019 U.S. Family Travel Survey reported that 37% of grandparents surveyed were planning to travel with their grandkids in the next three years, spurring the gramping trend.

Gramping in context

Why the change? It’s pretty simple. People are living longer lives and keeping healthier into their old age. Traveling isn’t as much of a challenge as it may have been before. With more time and resources, many grandparents are taking advantage to bond with their grandchildren, the report states. It’s also a way to give busy parents some time off from their parental duties.

Moreover, grandparents are living further from their grandchildren, while four in 10 work, according to an AARP study. Time is tight for them, and traveling together is a way to cover several bases. The report echos other studies, showing how nearly half of grandparents are planning a multigenerational trip in 2020. A whopping 61% are interested in traveling alone with their grandchildren. They spent some $179 billion a year on their children, so the spending power is certainly there!

If you grew up with grandparents, you might remember spending time with them, getting spoiled when your parents were away. Gramping likely provides a similar experience, just in a more distant destination or city. It doesn’t sound half bad.

Should destinations be looking towards this multigenerational trend, also known as “skip-gen travel?” Outlets like Skift are keeping an eye on it, and we have a few thoughts on some easy ways to market a destination to this rising breed of travelers.

Mobility vs. Activity

First and foremost, grandparents have mobility considerations that their teenage grandkids likely don’t, so look at the attractions in your destination. If it’s all about hiking, diving, or cycling, is there some sort of activity that might be more attractive to older visitors that won’t bore children?

Perhaps instead of paddle boarding, it’s sailing with a captain. Instead of hiking, maybe it’s a Segway tour. Be sure to highlight activities that will cater to the mobility requirements of seniors while also to the activity levels of younger travelers. Some advisors suggest cruises, rafting and even safaris for gramping trips, offering the perfect blend of adventure and mobility accommodation that visitors may need.

The point is to travel together, so separate activities for each group negates the whole idea of gramping in the first place.

Technology-free?

While kids might be stuck to their phones, scrolling on Instagram, grandparents – for the moment – are less likely to be so addicted to technology. If you have activities that can push, nay, force younger travelers off their phones and tablets, you might attract grandparents a bit more. Are there workshops, cooking classes, or other engaging activities that multigenerational travelers can enjoy together? Put them forward, highlight them, and make sure grandparents know they won’t be watching their grandchildren in front of a screen while in your destination.

Shared interests

Grandparents may want to visit a gallery and do a wine tasting, but grandchildren aren’t likely to be so inclined, if even just for legal reasons. What do multi-generational travelers have in common? What attractions or experiences in your destination speak to everyone?

In Paris, everyone likes visiting the Eiffel Tower. A wine tour, however, will bore the kids. In New York, who can resist the Statue of Liberty? Strolling the Brooklyn Bridge, however, may exhaust some grandparents. Position itineraries and activities carefully so that both sides feel like they are winning together.

Family-friendly facilities

Are there particular hotels that skip-gen travelers might really appreciate? Maybe there’s a kids’ club, or some sort of evening activities for teens while grandparents are resting after dinner? Knowing that there are babysitter or group activities that kids and teens can enjoy while grandparents are taking some downtime will make your destination even more appealing.

There’s nothing worse than imagining taking your family to a far away destination and having young ones cooped up in a hotel while grandpop naps. Sure, he needs to recharge, so if there is something the kid can do in the meantime, why not advertise it?

Make these things known so that grandparents can see the true value of gramping in your destination.

Accept if gramping is not for you

That said, not every destination needs to be a gramping hotspot. Multi-generational travel isn’t for everyone. Climbing the Himalayas isn’t really going to draw many seniors, while a river cruise down the Rhine may never be something for pre-teens.

And you know what? That’s OK. Skip-gen travel can’t be forced onto your destination, but if you have a mix of attractions and it seems plausible, don’t be afraid to position your destination as gramping-friendly. It could be a way to attract multigenerational travel in a way you never thought possible.

As grandparents live longer, fitter lives, there will likely be more opportunities for them to travel with their grandkids, and this trend may become more the norm before we know it.

Stressed about the ever-changing trends in the travel industry? At DCI, we have 60 years of experience monitoring what’s going on around the world, working with destinations to keep up with the Joneses. Get in touch with Karyl Leigh Barnes at [email protected] if you’re interested to know more about how we can help you stay up to date in this new decade.

Written By

Bryan Pirolli

As DCI's in-house Senior Writer, Bryan brings more than a decade of travel journalism experience to play when uncovering the next big story idea for our clients.

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