You want the truth? Not everyone goes on holiday to relax (though mainstream travel adverts might try to persuade you otherwise). Sure, it’s nice enough to do nothing for a few days, but soon the novelty wears off.
Instead of waiting for boredom to set in, take things up a gear and do more of what you love, surrounded by people with the same mad passion for music, media or history as you. I’ve lined up a shortlist of specialist holidays to keep you on your toes.
Capture New Orleans with National Geographic Expeditions
This photo workshop puts you in the midst of effortlessly cool New Orleans, led by Tyrone Turner, a National Geographic photographer. From your base in the French Quarter you’ll visit Jackson Square, Café du Monde, and one of the city’s famous cemeteries, in between attending workshops and getting to know the nightlife scene. In 2015 there are four different departure dates for the trip, and prices start at $1,595pp ( £1059pp at the current exchange rate) without a hotel, or $2,175 (£1444pp) with a hotel, based on two people sharing.
Unfortunately the workshop is only suitable for SLR camera users but, if you don’t have an SLR, there are loads of other workshops on the website, including smartphone photography tours. None of the trips are cheap, and they don’t include flights, but they’re probably worth the investment if you’re a photography fanatic.
Rock Out in Marrakech with Planet Rock and lowcostholidays
Are you sick of having to listen to tinny dance music when you’re on holiday? Do you crave something live, loud and driven by guitar solos – as I did when I fled to the Samui Rock Cafe in Thailand? Planet Rockstock could be just your thing. It involves three nights of gigs (24th-26th June) in a five star Moroccan hotel, the Eden Andalou Resort & Spa. The Temperance Movement and Black Star Riders are already confirmed to play, with a third act TBA.
For £689pp (based on two people sharing) you get flights, transfers, gig access, Planet Rock activities and a six night all-inclusive stay at the resort, overlooking the Atlas Mountains. You’ll only be ten minutes away from the centre of Marrakech, which was a stomping ground for the Rolling Stones in the 60s; don’t leave without visiting the souks and the Jemaa el-Fna.
Learn from a Journalist or Broadcaster with Telegraph Tours
The Daily Telegraph already has a well-established holiday section on its website, but their tailor-made tours have an extra incentive – speakers you’ll recognise from the media, with in-depth insight. You could let Kate Humble show you around Iceland, or see South Africa with Michael Buerk.
My top choice would be The Danube in Depth, led by John Simpson, Martin Bell and Nick Thorpe, who meet you in Bucharest, Bukovar and Budapest, respectively – cities they’ve reported from as correspondents. Prices start at £1,495pp, covering flights, transfers, accommodation, excursions, talks, tips and most meals – for a nine day trip, this is good value, especially as you couldn’t replicate it on your own.
Still looking for inspiration? Try these:
- Let an expert in Viking archaeology show you some of the coolest Viking sites in Denmark, courtesy of Martin Randall Travel. As well as exploring Copenhagen, Roskilde and Ribe, you’ll see some well-preserved bog bodies. Tollund Man, found in Silkeborg, dates back to the Iron Age. Priced from £3,310pp, including flights, hotels with breakfast, transport and some additional meals
- Hilary Bradt MBE, legendary guidebook author, is joining the Central and Northern Peru tour with Steppes Travel as a special guest. Alongside Hilary, you could be discovering the Pre-Colombian settlement of Kuelap, near Chachapoyas, then heading to the Cordilleras Blanca y Negra (two incredible mountains). There’s a lot of trekking involved, so this isn’t for the half-hearted. Prices start at £2,860pp, including flights
- Wanderlust Journeys has organised photography and travel writing trips for the past few years, led by the Wanderlust magazine team, including editor Lyn Hughes. Previous journeys, normally taken during the autumn, have included Marrakech, Dubrovnik and Petra – keep an eye on the website for updates
If you’ve seen another unique holiday that deserves to be on this shortlist, let me know.