By Linsey Schluter

‘Skip-gen’ travel was one of the hottest trends in 2019, and as the world opens for travel once again, it is expected to grow in popularity

But what are ‘skip-gen’ (skip-a-generation) trips? Also known as ‘gramping’, skip-gen adventures see grandparents taking their grandchildren away on holiday, leaving the parents at home.

Fit, active grandparents are looking to spend extra time with their grandchildren, especially if they live in another town or province, and a skip-gen holiday gives them the opportunity to bond, share experiences and make fantastic memories – before the kids get too old.

Gramping in a post-COVID world

COVID-19 will have put many plans on hold, not least of all because parents can no longer afford a holiday – or have had to take the lockdown period as paid leave.

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For parents no longer able to travel, the school holidays are a challenging time. Sue Garrett, General Manager of Marketing and Product at the Flight Centre Travel Group, believes that once grandparents are able to travel again, they’ll be ready to step into the breach: “Today’s grandparents are modern, active and can be a positive influence in what are often busy and stressful lives”.

Garrett believes that gramping might be the perfect solution for a short trip over the September school holidays (again, if grandparents have the green light to travel), or a multi-gen break (when the whole family comes along) over December.

“I can’t think of a better way to teach your grandchildren about South Africa’s cultural, regional and environmental diversity. Not only will grandparents instil a love for travel and adventure in their grandchildren, but they’ll give the parent’s much-needed peace of mind – especially if they manage to get the kids off screens and outdoors!”

South Africa is ideal for skip-gen holidays, dishing up safaris, beaches and an abundance of outdoorsy pursuits. But what makes for an ideal gramping getaway?

The perfect ingredients for a gramping holiday

Peter Dros, Sales & Marketing Director of Fancourt in George says grandparents should choose a destination which keeps both generations entertained and happy. His top tips for a skip-gen break are:

1. Choose a destination where you don’t need to entertain the kids 24/7
2. Find activities which bridge the generation gap
3. Make sure there are other kids for your grandchildren to hang out with
4. Spend time outdoors
5. Adventure!

“A fabulous kid’s club is a must,” says Dros, “but so are a range of activities and dining options which the family can share together. Fancourt’s nature trails, bike paths, pools and restaurants are great fun for the whole family, while our Kidz Club is perfect when the grandparents want to enjoy a game of golf or an afternoon at the spa.”

Family sport. Portrait of a healthy father and son working out over blue sky background. Happy loving family

The benefits of a gramping holiday

While some might feel intimidated at the thought of taking their grandchildren away sans parents, the benefits outweigh the odd the moments of ‘homesickness’ or tricky behaviour. While the benefits for the parents (a break from the stresses of working and parenting) and grandchildren (a holiday!) are clear, there are also tangible benefits for the grandparents.

Dr Amanda Gummer, author of Play, says research demonstrates that looking after grandchildren for the day can boost energy, cognitive powers and act as an anti-depressive: “There are a lot of benefits for the brain when you do something new and get out of your comfort zone,” say Gummer, “Not only will holidaying with your grandchildren keep you active, but you’ll be able to bond.”

Sharmila Ragunanan, Marketing Manager, Dream Hotels & Resorts agrees: “Gramping holidays can be simple. Children love collecting shells on the beach, doing puzzles, heading out on walks or days spent together. Don’t underestimate the power of good old-fashioned fun.”

Great gramping spots in South Africa – and beyond

So where does one head for a gramping holiday? South Africans are spoiled for choice.

While Avalon Springs’s biggest drawcard for young and old remains its selection of hot mineral pools, it also offers putt-putt, tennis, a kid’s club and wonderful walking trails in the mountains around Montagu in the Western Cape.

If you’re heading up the Garden Route, Fancourt is a must, while in KwaZulu Natal, The Blue Marlin Hotel in Scottburgh offers a relaxed, Indian Ocean break filled with sun, sand and new friends.

For a bush break, make sure to choose a game reserve which offers kid-friendly game drives or a junior ranger programme – leaving loads of time for granny and grandpa to relax at the pool.

Looking for an African adventure?

Natalie Tenzer-Silva, Director Dana Tours, believes that Mozambique deserves to be on everyone’s 2021 bucket list: “Mozambique is great for a multi-generation holiday. From long stretches of quiet beach and warm turquoise waters, to dolphin cruises and safaris, there really is something for everyone. Chat to Dana Tours about one of our ‘Flavours of Mozambique’ food tours, or a ‘Maputo Art and Culture Tour’ – exciting, vibrant options during an unforgettable family holiday.