A family affair: One quarter of American families are taking multigenerational vacations

April 15, 2016

As summer approaches, and American families plan their getaways, new research from Mintel reveals that vacations are a multigenerational affair, with 27 percent of vacationing parents including grandparents in their family travels. Families with young children are especially likely to include grandparents in vacations, with grandparents most frequently joining trips among families who have three or more children (32 percent) or children under age 6 (32 percent). Not so surprising are the 49 percent of parents who are looking for budget-friendly vacation options.

“Baby Boomer grandparents are a key demographic in the travel industry as they are more likely to have the time, funds and desire to use vacation time as an opportunity to bond with their children and grandchildren,” said Rupa Ghosh, Travel and Leisure Analyst at Mintel. “Whether treating the family financially or joining as helping hand, it’s important for the travel industry to engage the Boomer generation in family travel positioning, while keeping in mind the vacation trends popular among younger travelers, such as authentic experiences and immersive trips.”

38% of parents take nature-based trips while 14% take city-based vacations

Keeping their budgets in mind, parents are also hoping to plan one-of-a-kind trips. Some 29 percent of parents go on vacations for adventure, with two in five (38 percent) taking nature-based trips compared to less than one quarter (24 percent) who take city-based vacations.

What’s more, one third (33 percent) of parents are interested in vacations that go “off the beaten path,” and one in five (17 percent) take vacations to disconnect from society.

“Parents are looking for unique, personalized vacations that stay within their budget. While ‘off the beaten path’ vacations are of interest to those who want authentic experiences for the whole family, established destinations provide a sense of familiarity for parents who feel the pressure of planning a memorable getaway. As such, travel marketers can appeal to families by highlighting affordable outdoor activities available at familiar destinations that allow them to disconnect from society and reconnect with each other,” continued Ghosh.

With 63 percent of vacationing parents taking trips to spend time with family, it appears that kids have a say in the matter: 32 percent of children age 6-11 say they decide the destination most or some of the time, with the majority having a say in where to eat (54 percent) and what to do (69 percent) while on vacation. However, parents’ perception of their kids’ involvement is less clear: 28 percent of parents agree their vacation planning is part of a joint decision with their children, while 22 percent say they are solely responsible for decision making.

No matter who has the final say, seven in 10 (71 percent) US parents agree that doing activities with their children allows them to relive their own childhood.

“Many parents today feel that their children should have input on family matters, including vacations. Beyond involving children in choosing destinations and planning activities, parents are interested in experiences that take them back to their own childhood. The travel industry should look to highlight children-focused activities that also hold appeal for young parents and invoke a sense of nostalgia,” added Ghosh.

Overall, post-recession consumer confidence is contributing to steady growth in the vacation and tourism market, which reached $232.9 billion in 2015. In fact, nine in 10 (89 percent) parents plan to take a vacation this year, with nearly half (48 percent) planning to take multiple trips. It comes as no surprise that summer is the primary vacation season for families, with two in five (39 percent) parents planning to take multiple trips this summer.

However, many parents may still feel residual effects of the recession, making them reluctant to take time off from work: two in five (43 percent) parents prefer to take one or two long vacations per year, but the majority of vacations last less than week, including 30 percent which last 3 days or less.

“While spending on vacations and tourism is expected to continue increasing through 2020, the idea of going on vacation may not be a reality to some Americans. The ‘work martyr complex’ is a common theme among many, where workers feel tied to their desks. One way to provide the best of both worlds is through ‘bleisure’ travel. Blurring the line between work and play and offering parents the chance to bring family members along for leisure purposes on business trips is one way for companies to increase employee morale without employees having to take extended time off from work,” concluded Ghosh.

Press copies of the Seasonal Vacation Trends US 2016 report and interviews with Rupa Ghosh, Travel and Leisure Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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