The Gramping Travel Trend: Why Grandparents and Grandkids Should Travel Together
Bond with the grandkids on a fun (and camping-optional) "skip-gen" trip where you can meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear or zip around Iceland on a Zodiac boat.
Photo By: Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources
Photo By: Stuart Thurlkill/The Resort at Paws Up
Photo By: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
Photo By: Oku Japan
Photo By: Grand Geneva Resort and Spa
Photo By: The Broadmoor
Photo By: Addison Hill/Georgia Aquarium
Photo By: Dennis Minty
Photo By: Visit Orlando
Photo By: Amanda Friedman/Visit California
State and National Parks
Move over, glamping. Gramping is the newest travel trend. This "skip-gen" travel lets grandparents and grandkids take off to bond and have fun, leaving the middle generation — parents — at home. School breaks are ideal times to gramp, but you can go anywhere, anytime; it's especially good for retirees and kids on summer vacation. Just choose a place to stay or a destination that offers something everyone can enjoy.
Parks are ideal for gramping if you're on a fixed income or budget. Some state parks have free admission while others charge a small fee, and national parks sell a lifetime senior pass. Georgia’s Crooked River State Park in St. Marys, shown here, offers geocaching, fishing, biking and other fun for all ages.
Before you gramp, ask if there are age or weight limits for the things you plan to see or do. Ask about discounts, too, for seniors or children.
The Resort at Paws Up, Montana
Many seniors are active and fit, but you don't have to be a triathelete to go gramping. Look for a property like The Resort at Paws Up, in Greenough, Montana, with low-impact activities that are easy on the knees but fun enough to keep the younger set happy. Take the littles fishing, let them saddle up for pony rides, ride electric bikes or go aloft in a hot air balloon (the resort says it's a favorite with seniors). The resort, which encompasses the Blackfoot River and over 100 miles of forested trails, is also ideal for walks, wildlife viewing and photography, or you can swim and kayak at nearby Salmon Lake. At night, roast s'mores together over a fire.
Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
Many families gramp to celebrate milestones like birthdays, graduations and other special events in their grandchildren's lives. Look for a destination with a fun and festive atmosphere, like Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. If mobility issues are a concern, catch an Uber or take an easy walk along the Potomac to shop for souvenirs and see amazing views from atop the 180-foot high Capital Wheel. Summer brings movies to the waterfront and the addition of a small beach, so kids can play in the sand. Back at the hotel, everyone can enjoy the indoor pool, and with seven on-site restaurants to choose from, you don't have to leave the property for dinner.
Kansai Region, Japan
Don't make it obvious, and the grandkids will never guess that your skip-gen trip is also a learning experience. Treat ages five and up to a tour of the Kansai region in Nara, Japan, with a Family Adventure: Treasures of Japan's Heartlands trip. Everyone can take Japanese drumming lessons, feed wild deer roaming free in Nara Park and create pottery and paper lanterns. The trip also includes a scenic boat ride on the Hozu River to meet local residents in the rural community of Sasayama. Later, put the kids to bed on futons in a traditional, Japanese-style inn, or ryokan. Who knew learning about a different culture could be so much fun? Starting at $2,550 per child under age 18 at the time of travel and $2,865 per adult.
Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Wisconsin
Age doesn't have to put a barrier between the generations. Let gramping help you bond by showing your grands that older people are still active, playful and energetic. Wisconsin's Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva offers "skip-gen" fun with low-impact activities like mini-golf and arcade games, but you can also ski, ice skate and sled together. At nearby Timber Ridge Resort and Waterpark, swim, drift on the Lazy River ride or slip down twisting, turning waterslides. Ask about the Grandparents' Getaway, which includes accommodations, credit for food and beverages, tokens for the on-site arcade and four rounds of mini-golf.
The Broadmoor, Colorado
Is there a skill you've always wanted to learn or a sport you've always wanted to try? Plan a skip-gen trip and share your interests with your grandchildren. At The Broadmoor, a luxurious, century-old resort in Colorado Springs, you can go horseback riding and fly-fishing, try archery or play golf or tennis. If you're more adventurous, try zip-lining or rock climbing with the kids; you'll have plenty to talk about after you've all dangled in the air. Book space for your multi-gen crew in a room, suite, cottage, cabin or the grand, 12,000-square-foot Estate House.
For some seniors, driving is an issue. If you plan your gramping adventure in a city known for heavy traffic, choose a hotel within easy walking distance of the things you and your grands want to explore. Georgia's Aloft Atlanta Downtown makes a great home base for getting around without a car. (It's a Marriott hotel, so ask about a senior discount.) Fun attractions like the Children's Museum and World of Coca-Cola, where you can pose with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear, are just two-tenths of a mile away, and the Georgia Aquarium and the fountains at Centennial Olympic Park, built for the 1996 Olympics, are four-tenths of a mile away. You'll find more multi-gen attractions if you're game for a taxi ride or ride-share. Head over to the BeltLine, Atlanta’s urban greenway, to walk or ride a rental bike, or pop into the Center for Puppetry Arts to see a live show.
Greenland and Iceland
Get to know your grands better when you visit a destination that's high on excitement, but low on technology. In other words, gramp by disconnecting and using phones only as cameras. Kids of all ages will be aboard Adventure Canada's Zodiac boats when the next expedition, In the Wake of Vikings: a Voyage from Iceland to Greenland, departs in July 2021. Local experts and naturalists will stand in for Google and Siri and lead you through remote towns to see Viking ruins, waterfalls and villages long-buried under volcanic rubble. The small ships on this cruise make the trip accessible for travelers with mobility issues. Starting at $3,495, or, if you book by June 1, 2020, starting at $2,971. Kids under age two are free, ages 2-4 pay only for charter airfare and everyone under age 30 saves 30 percent.
Everyone knows the big draws in Orlando: Magic Kingdom Park, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, to name a few. But grampers can bond — and save a few bucks — with off-the-beaten-path fun. At Madame Tussauds Orlando, meet Justice League superheroes, superstars and others — not in the flesh, but in wax. Take future astronauts to the Kennedy Space Center, aspiring artists to Crayola Experience and fearless reptile fans to Gatorland. Give everyone's feet a break with tickets to see Blue Man Group at their incredible, multi-sensory show.
San Diego, California
Grandparents, grandchildren and zoos go together like ice cream cones and sprinkles. Amp up the traditional trip to see the animals with a visit to California's San Diego Zoo, named the number one zoo in the world in 2018. It's home to lions and tigers and bears — and leopards, eagles, camels, condors and thousands more animals and plants. Its emphasis on conservation makes it a hit with kids and seniors who care about wildlife and our planet. From the zoo, head out to Legoland, a theme park with kid-friendly rides, shows and attractions for ages 2 to 12. Looking for free fun? Try Balboa Park or Coronado Beach. Keep budding scientists busy, and maybe even teach the grands a thing or two, when you experience over 100 interactive exhibits at Fleet Science Center.