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Grandparents grounded with childcare duties

18th May 2011 Print

Grandparents’ well-earned getaways are becoming increasingly threatened, with 50 per cent of UK families now depending all year round on the generation, dubbed ‘Retired Help’, for their childcare.

According to a poll of 1,000 Brits conducted by Leger Holidays, almost a quarter (22 per cent) of British grandparents spend 20 hours or more childminding each week, with the average grandparent providing at least six hours of childcare for their family.

And, as much as many grandparents appreciate this quality time, caring for their nearest and dearest can have some side effects when it comes to their own leisure time with thousands admitting to pausing, changing or sacrificing their dream getaways to help their families.

The research from leading escorted tour operator Leger Holidays revealed over a quarter of Britain’s 14 million grandparents feel that commitments and responsibilities at home stop them from going away as often as they would like. Grandmas (32 per cent) are also more likely to feel this obligation than grandpas (28 per cent).

One alternative to staying at home which is being taken by ‘Retired Help’ is to go on holiday with their families. However, over half of grandparents admit to not enjoying the experience - one in five say that they find it hard work and many also feel they are only invited to provide free childcare. The equivalent of 1.8 million grandparents (13 per cent) admit their tastes differ from their families when it comes to how and where to spend holidays. Whereas many families choose to lie on the beach or by the side of the pool, the older generation prefer to have more experiential getaways, looking for new things to see and do each day.

Huw Williams, marketing director at Leger Holidays, said: “The mature traveller has always enjoyed more freedom when it comes to holidays as, historically, they have had more time and flexibility. However, especially given the current economy, a generation we at Leger have dubbed ‘Retired Help’ is having to provide childcare and support for their families, which is having a serious impact on their own leisure time.

“As the research shows, much as we love our families, our tastes and requirements for a holiday can change as we get older. So, it’s important to make sure that you take a holiday that suits your needs in order to get that much-needed dose of rest and relaxation.

“If you are ‘Retired Help’ bound by childcare duties, we recommend squeezing in a long weekend or short-stay break wherever possible. A change of scenery can do you the world of good and with the right tour operator at the helm you’ll be amazed at how much you can fit in! ”

Currently, the ‘Retired Help’ network is thought to save £2,021.24 per year for the average UK family and as much as £10,883.60 for those who rely on grandparents to provide full-time support – enough to cover plenty of trips away if grandparents took a pay cheque.

To help grandparents make the most of their free time, Leger Holidays has a variety of short break packages across Europe, which can fit in with even the most hectic of schedules.

Monet’s Garden, Versailles & the Splendours of Paris - 4 days from £269, 5 days from £365

Visit one of the world’s most beautiful cities, home to the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Élysées, Place de la Concorde and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Next, visit the impressive Château and Gardens of Versailles before heading to Normandy to explore the house and Garden of Claude Monet.

Prices includes: Three or four nights’ 4-star accommodation (depending on length of trip) with continental breakfast; free local pick up points; travel by executive coach and excursions to Paris, Versailles & Monet’s Garden and Fontainebleau & Vaux Le Vicomte (five day break only). Upgrade to luxury Silver Service coach available.

Ostend, Belgium’s Premier Seaside Resort - 4 days from £229, 5 days from £299

Visit Bruges, Europe’s best-preserved medieval city, and explore the canals, meandering cobbled lanes and hidden medieval almshouses. Stroll along the promenade at Ostend, where you can admire the Royal monuments, and take the opportunity to visit the historic towns of Ypres and Sluis. Those on the five day tour will also have the opportunity to visit Ghent, the flower capital of Belgium.

Price includes: Three or four night’s accommodation with continental breakfast and three or four evening meals including two drinks; travel by executive coach; two or three included excursions to Bruges, Ostend and Ghent (five day break only). Upgrade to luxury Silver Service coach available.

Paris Weekend & Midweek Breaks - 4 days from £169, 5 days from £365

Enjoy all Paris has to offer, taking in the sights, the delicious food and drink and of course the shopping! Join various optional tours, including a guided sightseeing tour, a cruise down the River Seine and an evening trip to the atmospheric Latin Quarter to enjoy dinner.

Price includes: Three or four nights’ accommodation with continental breakfast; travel by executive coach; free local pick up points; porterage in all hotels; and one or two excursions into Paris. Upgrade to luxury Silver Service coach available.

Leger’s Huw Williams added: “Escorted coach tours provide a great way to see the world, in a safe, stress-free and comfortable way. You can relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery without having to worry about getting from A to B and every day there is the opportunity to see and explore somewhere new.”

For full details of these or other tours offered by Leger Holidays log on to: