I recently came across the Spanish term “viajes de autor” and looking for it in English I couldn’t find a literal translation, though it seems that “expert led tours” in English, refers to it.
In an article about why travel agencies don’t work for me, one of my biggest concerns is that personal interests and cultural travel is largely overlooked.
Such an issue may be addressed by this trend of expert led tours or cultural travels organized by small agencies.
Viajes de autor
Viajes de Autor refers to a trip that has been designed by an expert in a certain discipline, mostly related to culture, history, art or science.
So for instance, if you want to see the Roman ruins in Turkey, this expert would be a knowledgeable archaeologist.
If you want to go swimming with whale sharks in Australia, the trip would be designed by a marine biologist.
But it doesn’t end there
The expert (autor) would do two things to make your experience even richer:
One, they would provide some seminars before the start of the trip, with all the academic information required for you to make the most of the adventure.
And two, they would actually accompany you as your tour guide during the trip.
One who’s willing to answer your questions, while you’re right there seeing the answers unfold in front of your eyes!
History, art, science just take on a whole new meaning!
Why Viajes de Autor?
In Spanish, agencies are using the word Autor (author) to mean the expert, the historian, the archaeologist, the artist that is designing and leading the tour.
A literal translation would be “Author Trips” but I couldn’t find any site that would use this term. I found that a Spanish agency uses “Author Tours” in the English version of their site.
What I did find is the term “Expert Led Tours” for which there are quite a few hits in Google.
What else do expert led tours offer?
First of all, expert led tours are personalized for the person or the small group of people who share a common interest in the subject.
Even though the travel industry has evolved since everybody now has access to the internet, many times organizing such a special trip would be almost impossible for a regular person.
These kinds of trips are what to some, separate the travelers from the tourists.
Expert led tours also offer a chance to visit some off-the-beaten-path destinations that are culturally or historically important, but that are not knows and therefore mostly overlooked by tourists.
Not only is the “author” an expert in his subject, he is knowledgeable of the area or city of the visit.
The option to have a series of previous seminars with the expert allows for all participants to pick impressions, perceptions, viewpoints and expectations of the upcoming trip, creating a sense of commonality among the participants.
It only goes to make the experience that much richer, life changing and memorable.
Are expert led tours more expensive?
Expert led tours do not come cheap, with an average increase of 30 to 40% over a regular tour, but people who have done them claim it’s totally worth it and it looks like prices are slowly coming down.
The chance to really absorb and understand other cultures, their history and our place in relation to them is invaluable.
Are all expert led tours for groups?
There are two main kinds of tours. The first kind is the tour that is designed by the expert, where nothing is left to chance; everything is controlled and taken care of.
The downside is that the tour leaves when the expert is available.
The other kind comes from a person who is interested in one particular subject or place in which case, the agency will find the appropriate expert that will design the plan, itineraries, places, visits and tour guides.
In this second kind, several meetings should be held in order to come up with the best tour option for the client.
In Spain one of the most important agencies promoting this kind of travel is mundoamigo.es offering viajes de autor alongside many other travel options.
There’s also viajesalpasado.com presenting a very interesting lineup of “authors” to choose from.
In England, the-traveler.co.uk offer a fantastic array of travel destinations that include historical and archaeological tours.
Some include Crete and the Minoans, Archaeological Ethiopia and Treasures of Kurdistan.
Are you getting excited yet? I am!
With her wit and fabulous grasp of world history, Diana Uribe is the best companion for any cultural trip.
If cultural travel is your kind of thing and you can afford a fantastic expert to go along with you, by all means, do it now!
If you’d prefer to go by yourself, but still know a lot about the history and importance of a place, where to go, when, how to get there, what to do and what’s not worth doing, I’m here to help!
Can you imagine visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing, China being led by a historian who can tell you all about the extraordinary chain of events that happened there?
Traveling back in time decades, centuries and even thousands of years?
Did you ever go on a cultural pilgrimage with an expert? Share your experience in the comments and please post in Facebook and Twitter!