Everything you need to know about gramping

Adventurous seniors are now hitting the road with grandkids in tow. Skip-gen holidaying is a new travel trend that brings together the young and the young at heart.

A grandfather and grandchild in wetsuits hold surfboards at the beach.
  • Alexandra Carlton
  • October 2019

Sydney retiree Elizabeth Atkins cherishes every second she spends with her only grandchild, six-year-old Jasper. Which is why, when a friend with a grandson of a similar age suggested Elizabeth and Jasper join them for a week-long holiday in Dubbo, in the NSW Central West, she jumped at the chance.

“At first it seemed a little strange to take him away on my own without his mum but we ended up having the most wonderful time; we rode bikes everywhere, explored the town and of course went to Taronga Western Plains Zoo,” she says. “He missed his mum a bit – there were a few tears on the first night – but he was so excited about going to the zoo. It was really lovely to have that time with him.”

The “gramping” or “skip-gen holiday” trend – where grandparents take vacations with their grandkids while the generation in the middle stays home – is one that’s growing in popularity across Australia, fuelled by the rise of retirees with the time and funds to invest in leisure and encouraged by overworked parents who may not be able to take a break from the office.

A grandmother and grandchild look at a giraffe at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, NSW.
Grandparents and grandkids alike will love the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

“Part of this new trend is because grandparents despair at the amount of time children are spending on devices,” says Sue Preston, travel editor of The Senior newspaper. “Increasingly, grandparents are taking the children to places where they can enjoy the great outdoors, preferably without Wi-Fi! Grandparents say they relish the opportunity to connect with and really get to know their grandchildren without the normal day-to-day distractions.”

Michael Buggy, general manager of Australian Walking Holidays, says it’s something he’s seeing more and more. “Grandparents are looking for experiences to share with their grandchildren. Travel is a great way to make memories and do something together,” he says.

“We recently had a couple of grandparents stay with their grandkids, aged six and eight,” says Edwina Shallcross, co-owner of Bullara Station in Western Australia’s north-west outback. “They said their son and daughter-in-law work full time and this takes the pressure off with holiday care. It also allows the grandparents and grandchildren to maintain a beautiful relationship while they’re young. The whole family gets together to plan the next year’s adventure.”

A grandmother and grandchild walk on the beach
Nature-based activities like the beach or bush walks are great gramping options.

Then, of course, it’s important to choose a holiday that includes sights and activities that appeal to both ends of the age spectrum. When in doubt, says Steve Edmonds, CEO of Reflections Holiday Parks, wildlife is the great intergenerational leveller.

“One of our properties, Moonee Beach Holiday Park [near Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast], is adjacent to a nature reserve. Each night in September the fireflies come out. It’s a beautiful thing and the looks of wonder on everyone’s faces – from the kids to the adults – is something else.”