Cuddles, kisses and chatter: The top things grandparents have most missed out on

It’s hard to quantify all the things that have been missed over the last year, but new research out today shows that grandparents have been hit particularly hard – missing out on 49 hugs, 47 kisses, 40 conversations and 25 family meals with their grandkids since the start of the pandemic. 

WATCH the emotional moment the first grandparents Granny Lou and Big Grandad Nick from Southampton road-test the service and are reunited with their grandkids after EIGHT months apart.

The research from megabus, shows that as well as these smaller moments missed, including 27 playtimes with toys, 24 storytimes, 18 school pick ups and 19 bedtimes with grandkids, the average grandparent also wasn’t able to be there for big milestones such as first steps (15%), first words (14%), and first days of nursery (11%). 

However, that’s set to change as three quarters (74%) of parents reveal they will be reuniting with grandparents now that restrictions are lifting and older generations have been vaccinated, with almost half (48%) admitting they rely heavily on the support from grandparents in raising their children.

In response, to help grandparents reunite with the ones they love, the UK’s leading great value intercity coach operator megabus is launching an industry-first ‘Grand Reunion’ ticket to bring together long-distance grandparents and grandchildren. The company will offer selected grandparents free travel to visit their family on its entire network for a year. 

Grandparents Louise (55) and Nick (64) Plowright, from Southampton, were reunited with their grandkids and daughter who live in Hemel Hempstead after eight months apart thanks to the new megabus Grand Reunion ticket. The ticket, created to help grandparents reunite with the ones they love will offer selected grandparents free travel to visit their family on the coach operator’s entire network for a year. Grandparents can apply to take part in the trial by visiting

This campaign hopes to attract the three quarters (76%) of grandparents who said they are desperately wishing for time with their grandkids, with the study showing grandparents are set to spend an impressive 30 hours in an average month with their grandchildren, a figure that’s 20% longer than they spent with their own grandparents in previous generations (25 hours). 

Making up for lost time, almost six in ten parents (59%) admit that whilst the use of technology during the pandemic brought grandparents closer together with their grandchildren, there is no replacement for face to face relationships (80%). In fact, over half of parents admit they have a newfound respect for their children’s grandparents after the last year (52%). 

Top of the list when it comes to grandparent duties is covering childcare (35%), as well as doing the school run (28%), preparing dinners (20%) and help with homework (17%). Nearly three quarters (71%) reveal they are counting down the days until they can see their grandkids, with a further 76% stating the hardest thing about the pandemic was not being able to spend proper time together.  

The survey also shows the dedication of this army of helpers – with the average grandparent spending almost 90 hours (89 hours and 52 minutes) travelling in an average year to see their children and grandchildren, amounting to a cost of £240.  

Hoping to bring a smile to kids’ faces up and down the country, the megabus Grand Reunion ticket is now available for 10 sets of grandparents. To apply for the Grand Reunion ticket, visit

The coach operator has launched the trial with a short film showing the emotional reunion of real-life grandparents Nick Plowright and Louise Plowright and their grandchildren Archie, aged 10 and Ava Rollini, aged nine, who haven’t seen each other for over eight months due to the pandemic. In fact ‘Nanny Lou’ and ‘Big Grandad’ as they are affectionately known have only seen their grandchildren twice since last March due to restrictions.

Louise Plowright, says, “We’ve become very old since lockdown, we need them back in our life to give us that energy and make us feel youthful again. We cannot wait to spend time doing all the things we love and be around Ava and Archie’s infectious enthusiasm once again.” 

The top moments grandparents have missed due to the pandemic: 

  1. 49 hugs 
  2. 47 kisses
  3. 40 conversations 
  4. 27 playtimes with toys
  5. 25 meals together 
  6. 24 walks
  7. 19 bedtimes
  8. 19 daytrips
  9. 18 school runs 
  10. 18 hand drawn pictures


Mark Venables, Managing Director from megabus comments

“With 61% of parents saying that missing grandparents has been one of the hardest things for their kids this past year, we’re really excited to help grandparents get back on the road and travel with confidence to see loved ones across the UK through great value coach travel. The past year has been tough on everyone, but what’s clear from the research is that grandparents play a vital role in their grandkids’ lives.


“With our megabus coaches offering strict cleaning regimes and safety measures to keep everyone safe on board, we hope that the new ‘Grand Reunion’ will allow more grandparents to reconnect with their grandchildren, and we look forward to being a part of the journey as a more normal life resumes.”

megabus hopes the campaign encourages grandparents and those of all ages to reconnect with their loved ones. And with services such as reserved seating, extra legroom seats and a new coach tracker, not to mention free Wi-Fi and on board charging points to stay connected, customers can travel in comfort and confidence. For those who can’t wait to see their family and loved ones visit to book tickets. 


About the research 

Research conducted over two surveys, between 14th to 21st May with a poll of 1,000 UK parents of 0-18 year olds who have a grandparent and 1,000 UK grandparents of 0-18 year olds. 


About the Grand Reunion ticket 

Terms and conditions apply (for full T&Cs visit

The prize consists of up to £500 of complimentary travel over a 12 month period for ten (10) winners. Travel to be undertaken between 01 July 2021 – 30 June 2022 (excluding bank holidays). Winners will be able to travel across the whole megabus network. Routes and times are available at As the prize is travel to help reconnect families, origin and destination must be the same for each trip. Winners must contact us at least seven (7) days before their travel date to book their travel.


About megabus 

  • megabus is the market-leading great value intercity coach operator in the UK. It is part of Stagecoach Group, one of the UK’s largest and leading public transport groups. 
  • The megabus service, which was first launched in the UK in 2003, offers mega value fares across the country. Linking 90 locations, offering high-quality, great value travel in some of the country’s most modern coaches and carrying more than 4 million passengers a year.


About Stagecoach Group

  • Stagecoach is a leading public transport company, with operations in England, Scotland and Wales.
  • We employ around 24,000 people and operate more than 8,300 buses, coaches and trams.
  • Stagecoach is Britain’s biggest bus and coach operator and it also runs the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.

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