Tourism Industry News
"Baby Boomer" grandparents refuse to act their age with grandchild leisure time
The ‘baby boomer’ generation of grandparents refuse to act their age – according to new research released by the University of Brighton, in association with Grand Breaks, the holiday specialist for grandparents and their grandchildren.
The new research explored how today’s grandparents like to spend leisure time with their grandchildren and revealed that grandparents perceive themselves to be a lot younger in their lifestyles than people of their age in previous generations. Furthermore, their age is no longer seen as a constraining factor to travel.
Until now little research has been conducted into this area, despite the fact that grandparents now represent over 20 per cent of the UK population and the over 50s possess some 80 per cent of the nation’s wealth. This is an important market, even more especially in the current economic climate as more women are having to return to work and the responsibility of childcare is falling to kinship carers - such as grandparents.
Key findings of the research are:
- Age was no longer seen as a constraining variable to travel, or to have any significant influence on the pursuit of outdoor activities. In order of popularity, outdoor activities - such as cycling, walking, sailing and swimming - came surprisingly high in third place, behind the perhaps more predictable activities of going to the seaside (2nd) and eating out (1st) that grandparents like pursuing on a joint a holiday with their grandchildren (see Notes to editors for complete list).
- Grandparents, who live close to their grandchildren and get involved regularly in school runs and/or preparing evening meals and supervising homework, yearn for a break from routine and the chance to spend some ‘quality time’ and just have fun with their grandchildren.
- 84 per cent of grandparents surveyed thought that travelling was an important part in their grandchildren’s education and an opportunity to provide non-classroom based learning and discover new things in life.
- 66 per cent of grandparents want to try new activities, share experiences and discover new things together with their grandchildren, rather than be observers or bystanders.
- 87 per cent wanted to show their grandchildren that it is fun and exciting to do things with their grandparents.
The research was undertaken by MA student Franka Steinkopf from the university’s School of Service Management, who carried out a UK-based survey into the 50 to 75 age group, with the help of specialist intergenerational holiday company, Grand Breaks.
“In a significant change from their own grandparents today’s grandparents have a lively interest in and expectation of participating in activities - as opposed to being bystanders - and wanting to explore and discover new things together with their grandchildren,” observed Franka Steinkopf.
Managing Director of Grand Breaks, Charles Grimaldi, a former FTSE 100 Corporate Affairs Director, said: “The research findings, with indications of a more fun seeking, adventurous and younger at heart style of grandparents have sparked images of today’s grandparents as the ‘Peter Pan generation’ of grandparents!”
Principal lecturer Chris Dutton from the university’s School of Service Management concluded: “I think the research reinforces the social revolution that began in the 1950s with the baby boomers - the grandparents of today - choosing a very different and more independent youthful and active lifestyle, assisted by major advances in healthcare and diet. The over 50s own some 80 per cent of the nation’s wealth, giving extra dimensions of freedom and choice, all of which has led to increased opportunities for grandparents to participate more actively in the lives of their grandchildren.”
Grandparents were asked what kind of activities they would like to pursue with their grandchildren on a joint holiday. In the following table, these activities are grouped according to popularity
Nature of activities
% of respondents who agreed
- Eating Out 78
- Going to seaside for relaxing 76
- Outdoor activities (cycling, walking, sailing, swimming etc) 68
- Visiting the zoo 66
- Visiting historical sites 65
- Visiting museums 56
- Visiting theme parks 49
- Visiting cultural events (concerts, theatre performances etc,) 44
- Going shopping 44
- Exploring different cities together 41
- Watching sports events* 24
- Participating in sports 22
- Joining guided city tours 11
*The researchers found it surprising that the traditionally popular shared pastime of watching sporting events was only ranked 11th in order of preference.