What Are Skip-Gen Trips and Why I Recommend One

Travel Tips

Skip-generation trips, also known as a skip-gen trip, where multi-generational travel includes grandparents and grandkids while leaving the middle generation at home.

Our family loves to travel, and we instilled that love of travel in our daughter beginning at a young age. We told her it was in her DNA. After she married and started having children, we continued to travel, adding more people to the trip as our family grew. While our family travels together frequently, grandparents, parents, and grandkids, circumstances arose that made it necessary for mom and dad to stay home.

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Skip-generation trips, also known as a skip-gen trip, where multi-generational travel includes grandparents and grandkids while leaving the middle generation at home.

Our family loves to travel, and we instilled that love of travel in our daughter beginning at a young age. We told her it was in her DNA. After she married and started having children, we continued to travel, adding more people to the trip as our family grew. While our family travels together frequently, grandparents, parents, and grandkids, circumstances arose that made it necessary for mom and dad to stay home.

Usually, their jobs required them to stay behind, or my job provided the opportunity for the grandkids to tag along. Over the years, my two grandchildren, and sometimes their grandfather, have made lasting memories through skip-gen vacations. It has allowed the two generations to spend quality time together.

Granddaughter wearing Snoopy ears from Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California
Author’s Granddaughter Wearing Snoopy Ears from Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California

Some popular skip-gen destinations are theme parks, national parks, European vacations, and cruises. The trips have enriched my relationships with my grandchildren wherever a skip-gen trip took us. Travel has been one of the best ways to share experiences across generations.

This travel trend is a great way for the older generation to get to know the younger generation in a new environment. Here are seven reasons I recommend taking a skip-gen family vacation with your grandkids.

Capitol at Night in Washington DC
Capitol at Night in Washington DC

See a Familiar Place Through Fresh Eyes

For my first solo skip-gen trip, with only my granddaughter and I, we left her parents and grandfather behind. I decided to go somewhere I had been before. It comforted me to know the lay of the land and how to get around it. However, I still had a lot of new things to explore in the destination.

The journey was also straightforward, with a non-stop flight of about an hour and a quarter, so delayed flights and complications wouldn’t be an issue. It’s vital if you are the only adult, especially traveling with more than one child.

My granddaughter is interested in art, so I chose Washington, D.C., for the trip. I had been there several times before, primarily on business, and had visited some museums. But a lot remained to uncover. Since I’d already been to the destination, I didn’t mind letting her choose which activities she wanted to do.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Provide activity choices and let the grandkids choose from those. Be open to any additional ideas they may have, but leaving it open-ended might be overwhelming for them. If you know the destination, provide some starting options. The most successful skip-gen trip begins with the right destination.

Increase Planning Flexibility

Grandparents are often retired while most parents work, making planning a trip with three generations challenging. When the kids have a school break, grandparents are more likely to have time for a vacation. Parents have limited vacation time and often constraints on planning around co-workers’ time off. When grandparents and their grandchildren travel together, you only need to consider two generations’ schedules, making getting away easier. A bonus for the parents is that they will enjoy some time away from the kiddos. Without the kids, the skipped generation will have the rare opportunity to have one-on-one or alone time. It’s a win-win situation.

Skip-gen travelers will want increased planning to ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone. You’ll want to understand the interests and needs of all those involved. Consider what type of trip will make the most of your travel experience. Is it a beach vacation that includes marine life or outdoor adventures with some horseback riding included?

Piper’s Pro Planning: Get the kids involved in the planning process and map out activities that both generations will enjoy. Be sure to consider if the destination will require a level of physical activity that everyone can manage.

Michigan Stadium, the Big House on Game Day
Michigan Stadium, the Big House on Game Day

Share Your History or Heritage

My first skip-generational trip with my granddaughter was an overnight trip to my alma mater so that she could experience a collegiate football game at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her grandfather, a major Michigan fan, also came along.

It was only an hour’s drive, and we stayed overnight in a hotel. I shared what a football game was like in my college days on this trip. We toured the campus, where I described the good, the bad, and the ugly associated with my years on campus. Since her grandfather and I dated in college, we had a meal at one of our old favorite date-night restaurants, where we discussed how times have changed and what remained the same. She had the experience of a Big Ten football game at the football stadium with the largest crowd in the United States. She also learned about her grandmother’s history and how it made me who I am.

Piper’s Pro Planning: If significant events occur in the town while you are there, make hotel reservations beforehand. On football weekends, locations may not have a hotel room for only one night, but rooms are available if you ask for two nights. They simply require a two-night minimum stay.

Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis Missouri Photo Credit: Cassidy Cooper

Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis Missouri Photo Credit: Cassidy Cooper

Mark a Milestone

Milestone travel is already part of many cultures with honeymoons and babymoons. Celebrations that mark a significant birthday, like double digits, sweet sixteens, or high school and college graduations, are another reason for a skip-gen trip. These types of trips build memories that will last a lifetime. For example, we decided to take our granddaughter to Disney World for her fifth birthday, and it brought back fantastic memories of when we took her mother. Because it was her birthday trip and her parents weren’t along, we could spoil her a bit with no complaints.

My husband and granddaughter found they shared a love of all things space during the trip. At Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, she had a chance to sample different cultures while we talked about where she might like her first international trip to take her.

An excellent graduation skip-gen trip would be one to a country representing the family heritage. That trip would allow the young people to understand their family history meaningfully.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Start with a close-to-home overnight or weekend trip to try it so that if there are significant issues, you can resolve them more easily.

Cathedral in St. Louis
Cathedral in St. Louis Photo Credit: Cassidy Cooper

Learn New Skills

My 16-year-old granddaughter and I attended a photography workshop in St. Louis, Missouri. We both enjoy photography and creating images, so we participated in a multi-day, skill-building seminar that helped beginners and advanced photographers augment their talents. For my granddaughter, it was her first adult-type training. She was the youngest attendee, but she held her own.

Perhaps both you and your grandchild are foodies. Build an itinerary around a food destination. For example, my trip to Nova Scotia’s South Shore allowed me to get a fresh catch from a lobster boat, go to a lobster pound to weigh and sort the lobster, and watch a chef demonstrate deconstructing a lobster in a restaurant. Cooking classes on a similar trip would be the perfect foodie skip-gen trip for pre-teen or teenage grandchildren who love to be in the kitchen.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Check out the age or experience level of the program on offer. Check in with the event organizer if you believe that your grandchild might be too young. When I did this, we discussed maturity level and experience, which was a perfect fit.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Get to Know the Grandkids Better While Making Memories

One of the top reasons for a skip-gen trip is to get to know your grandkids better while making new memories that both of you will cherish. In turn, spending time together will create a stronger bond between generations. Start by doing your research ahead of time with Mom and Dad. Then, have a series of conversations with the young ones and discover their interests.

You might have a place in mind. While working in San Francisco, I had to be there over some holidays, so my husband brought our granddaughter to California. While the general destination was pre-determined, we had many activities to choose from. As we discussed choices, I was surprised that this 7-year-old wanted to hug a tree. She’d heard the expression and knew of the redwoods in Muir Woods. So, while the destination might be pre-determined, working on tuning into the grandkid’s interests, you may be surprised at what you discover. I know I was.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Don’t just research interests, but also find any allergies or issues concerning motion sickness to be sure you’re prepared to manage those situations.

Expand Experiences among Cousins

Since I only had one child, my grandchildren have the same parent; however, I see the skip-gen trip as an opportunity for cousins to travel with the grands and get to know each other better in new environments. While cousins have different parents, they have grandparents in common. A trip together can help them see what they all have in common with the help of those grandparents. The journey can help the extended family grow closer and strengthen family bonds.

National Parks are popular skip-gen trips, especially in the summer. The parks offer a wealth of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to water sports. Of course, as a grandparent with knee issues, activities on the water are easier than hiking, but national parks are places where people of all ages can find things that interest them. So sharing these destinations among cousins makes an excellent adventure.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Make your travel plans with everyone’s interests in mind.

If you’re looking for the perfect skip-gen trip, consider these destinations:

For more planning trips, check out this article:

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What Are Skip-Gen Trips and Why I Recommend One Pinterest Pin
Amy Piper
Author: Amy Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.


Let’s get something on the calendar! Here are some of Piper’s Pro Planning links to help you book your trip.

Plan your flight and book your airline ticket with these links:

Plan your overnight accommodations anywhere from national chains to private homes with:

Plan to save on all of your activities, from tours to attractions. These links will help:

Visit my resources page for more planning help.


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  1. Sonia

    Skip generational trips are a great way for kids to get to know and feel part of their larger family, especially where cousins are involved as you mention.

  2. Michael Taylor

    I had never heard of the term skip-gen trips before, but it sounds like a wonderful idea. There is often a special relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. Also, grandparents are often more patient and less judgmental than parents. Also, they might have more time on their hands and wouldn’t have to rush. For example, assuming they are retired, they could take more leisurely trips without the same professional commitments that parents might have, such as only being able to take two weeks off.

  3. Ivan

    I didn’t have the chance to experience skip-gen travel, but it sounds like a nice idea.
    It’s great that you have the patience to spend extended periods with grandchildren, on destinations that are possibly new to both you and them. I know the memories must be rewarding, but surely it’s not always easy. I commend you for the effort, and I’m sure the middle generation is thankful for getting some time for themselves too!


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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in traveling through a food lens and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.


Lansing, Michigan

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