Travel with a Twist: Specialist Holidays for 2015

Cyclists in a line on group day out. Credit: drumnadrochit.info

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.

Garden cemetery in Louisiana with violinist and flowers
New Orleans is ready for its close-up. Credit: Linh Nguyen – flickr.com/photos/lng0004 (please note: this image wasn’t taken on the course).

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.

Moroccan resort overlooking Atlas Mountains with pool
Imagine this scene, plus killer guitar riffs. Credit: Eden Andalou Resort

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.

Classic skyline of Budapest, Hungary, with ornate buildings
Budapest will spill some of its secrets with the Telegraph. Credit: Frank Schmidt – flickr.com/photos/48018151@N05.

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:

Danish museum with Viking longboats
Meet the Vikings in Roskilde, Denmark. Credit: Chris Rimmer – flickr.com/photos/chrstopher.
  • 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.

4 thoughts on “Travel with a Twist: Specialist Holidays for 2015”

    1. I’m with you on the budget issue – most of these tours are beyond my price range, too, but I thought they were too good not to write about. They’re the kind of trips that would be worth saving up for, even though they might require sacrificing a few luxuries to boost the travel fund 🙂

  1. Hello, Polly,
    Your blog caught my eye. Love the topics. In the ’80s I visited that museum in Roskilde when as a teacher I was there with a Scottish school party. We adored the town.
    Just to say, for any of your readers who happen to be knitters/crocheters and would like to vist France, and, given that budget is an issue understandably for most people, I am launching retreats at my French home in the Limousin, from Aug 2017. http://www.knitandcrocheznous.com
    Very reasonable costs, fully catered with ick u form airport at Limoges included.
    Best,
    Heather

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