​Why pay for an expert-led tour when you can do it yourself?

We know that there are lots of options for exploring Britain’s great history. There are books, podcasts and numerous resources across the web. So, with so many different ways of doing it yourself, why should you pay extra to take a group tour with an expert?

We think the advantages of being in a group far outweigh the benefits of DIY travel. In a group you have people to discuss your enthusiasm with, share knowledge and insights and of course the expert is on hand to answer queries or point out features that would otherwise be missed. This can make the whole experience more fulfilling and enjoyable.

For most of our experts, their subject is the passion of their life and they want to share this passion with others.

We asked Paul Allen, a history graduate, former lecturer and amateur historian now resident in York, what kind of history break he would take:

“We all know that time is precious, and especially the opportunity to have a well-deserved holiday or short break. For many people, the holiday experience starts at the planning stage with where to, who with, and what type of activities or experiences? So much choice and so many decisions!

“Arguably one of the most important decisions is whether to book the travel and accommodation independently or to go for a “package” and let someone else do the legwork for you. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages as most people know from personal experience. 

“If you enjoy sightseeing holidays with a focus on history and culture, then I would highly recommend an expert-led guided tour. When I’m on holiday I like to relax and enjoy the whole experience. Also, I want to make the most of what I see and do, and crucially not to miss something of real significance; be it a building, an artefact or a geographical feature. 

“What the expert does, is to bring the past to life and to help us to make sense of the present. Tour experts are there and make a living for a very good reason. They specialise in a subject and know a lot more than most of us about that subject and their period of interest. They are usually most passionate about the subject and only too willing to share this in an interesting and often humorous way with a willing audience. Many are researchers or academics and have published widely. The best of them are much in demand and will have done this kind of tour many times before.

“Of course what brings the whole experience to life are the anecdotes and stories they tell. I can be in a derelict building, or an open field, neither of which means anything to me. Cue the expert guide, who regales the group with tales from a bygone era. Suddenly the holiday experience is transformed in that moment from token interest into total engagement! Experts love the interaction with people on the tour and will want to chat informally during the day, and over lunch or an evening meal. They will also tell you that there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

“I have to declare a bias here. I have done many history/cultural tours over the years, both expert-led and independently. All have been enjoyable for different reasons, but the expert-led tours just add that extra dimension to the holiday which I couldn’t have matched, and it just makes the whole holiday experience  more enjoyable and memorable. If you are thinking about your next holiday, I would thoroughly recommend “expert led.”