Let Ancestral Footsteps take you on an exhilarating journey back in time – with first-class treatment all the way.
Our extensive network of researchers, historians and local fixers will uncover your roots in Britain, Europe or beyond, and guide you on a journey of discovery in the footsteps of your ancestors. Ancestral Footsteps’ bespoke tour packages include background research on your ancestry, luxury travel arrangements, and a dedicated researcher accompanying you throughout your trip.
We don’t just trace the names and dates on your family tree; our researchers go wherever the story is to track down the documents, details and big-picture history which bring your ancestors to life. We then construct a tour to lead you back in time, as you follow the clues and visit places where your ancestors lived, worked and played.
A tour with Ancestral Footsteps will leave you with a deeper understanding of your family’s story, and a new emotional connection to the past.
Every family is unique, and so are all our tours.
‘Ancestral Footsteps offer non-celebrities the sort of service Who Do You Think You Are? gives to its stars… a luxury trip down your family’s memory lane’
How To Spend It magazine, Financial Times
‘The Adventure of a Lifetime’
The New York Times Style Magazine gift guide
‘Ancestral Footsteps goes far beyond a family’s past on a genealogical quest filled with intrigue, adventure and enlightenment’
Robb Report magazine
‘All I want for Christmas is … an Ancestral Footsteps package’
Guardian Weekend magazine
‘Ancestral Footsteps combine in-depth genealogical research with treasure-hunt-like journeys that reveal their findings, clue by clue, along the way’
Wall Street Journal
How it works
You choose your Ancestral Footsteps package, whether for yourself or as a gift
You tell us which ancestors or which branch of your family you want to follow, wherever in the world that may be
You give us basic information on your ancestry and we begin our research
We choose the best stories and build a personalised tour around them
We pick you up from your home, hotel or airport and your unforgettable journey begins
Are you looking for a gift for a loved one or work colleague who is about to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or retirement?
An Ancestral Footsteps tour is the perfect present - with a beautiful gift voucher for the recipient
‘There was a revelation every decade of the way! Fantastic’
Tony, Melbourne, Australia
‘Ancestral Footsteps is a miracle worker’
Art, Washington DC, USA
‘My Ancestral Footsteps weekend was a gift from work colleagues and one of the best presents I have ever received’
Michelle, Berkshire, England
‘The 5-day ancestral voyage of discovery was terrific … not knowing where you were off to next keeps you enthralled’
Nic, Cape Town, South Africa
‘You have managed to completely change my life during the last few days. I have never felt I actually belonged anywhere and had always been searching for my roots … now I feel complete for the first time’
Peter, Sussex, England
All our tour packages include in-depth genealogical and historical research into your chosen ancestor(s) or one branch of your family. We then build a tailor-made tour based around our findings, with your personal researcher/guide visiting your ancestral places in advance (our recce) to ensure the smooth running of your tour.
The tour begins when your personal researcher/guide and your driver pick you up from your home, hotel or airport and you follow a trail of clues as historical documents reveal the story of your family and we place your ancestry in the social and historical context of the time.
After each day’s touring there’s an optional dinner with your researcher to further discuss your findings and an overnight stay in a luxury hotel. At the end of your tour we give you a folder containing all your family documents and illustrating your unique story.
We offer a range of tour packages from 2-day to week-long tours. Decide which one suits you:
- Weeks of in-depth research & recce
- Two days of ancestral touring
- Two luxury overnights
- All your ancestral documents
Tours in England, Scotland & Wales: £8,000
Rest of Europe: £9,000
- Additional in-depth research
- Three days of ancestral touring
- Three luxury overnights
- All your ancestral documents
Tours in England, Scotland & Wales: £11,000
Rest of Europe: £12,000
- Extensive research into all branches of your tree
- 4+ days of ancestral touring
- Commemorative hardback book
Price on enquiry
Prices based on a couple travelling together and sharing a room
Prices are exclusive of VAT
For tours outside Europe please enquire about pricing
‘Remote curiosity was quickly overtaken by a cluedo-style chase as we galloped through history’
Mike & Caroline, Dubai
‘There were so many treasures on the trip that it's hard to pick out just one favorite highlight’
Anne & Eddie, Ohio, USA
‘The team amazed me with the depth of their findings … everyone should take this trip of a lifetime’
Jo, Cambridge, England
‘My Who Do You Think You Are? type tour totally blew me away! It’s incredible to see how traits and patterns are passed through generations. A remarkable experience’
John, Perth, Australia
‘It was the best trip of my life. The most amazing thing was having my family come to life and that many generations from now, our family will know where they came from. I have my story and I will treasure it always’
Lori, Texas, USA
Sue Hills, Ancestral Footsteps’ founder and CEO, is a veteran producer and director on the international hit BBC family history series, Who Do You Think You Are? While filming all over the world with celebrities such as Susan Sarandon, Barbara Windsor and Jerry Springer and helping to give them a fascinating insight into their past, Sue realised she could provide a similar experience for a wider audience. She developed the ‘Ancestral Footsteps’ concept of bespoke family history tours.
Sue’s team of dedicated researcher/guides is largely made up of journalists and former TV researchers and producers. They have an eye for a story, tenacious research skills, and a wealth of experience, all of which makes them excellent travel companions. The Ancestral Footsteps team also boasts an unrivalled international contacts book, to help bring your family’s story to life wherever it leads us.
- Why do you specify research into particular ancestors or one branch of the family rather than the whole tree?In order to do justice to your family’s story, we have to be selective. Rather than race through a long list of names and places, we prefer to focus on several ancestors in depth so that you can really get to know them. If you have specific interests in certain ancestors we will focus on them; if not, our initial overview research will help to dictate which ancestors we concentrate on.
- How much information do I need to give you?The more information you can give us about your family at the start of our research, the greater chance we have of finding interesting new leads rather than spending research time on what is already known. If very little is known, don’t despair: for ancestors in the UK or in much of Western Europe we can start research with as little information as a name, date and place of birth. For ancestors from further afield, for instance in Eastern Europe, we may need to gather information on your wider family rather than just your direct ancestors.
- I know a lot about my family already / I know absolutely nothing about my family. Is an Ancestral Footsteps tour right for me?If you know very little about your family history, you can enjoy one of our ‘mystery tours’ with a journey of revelation. We will guide you to uncover the story as you travel, with each new document or encounter giving clues to the next step back in time. If you know your ancestors’ names and some information but want to develop your understanding of the family, your tour can be a journey of exploration. Guided visits to relevant locations and a wealth of social and historical detail will help to ‘colour in’ your ancestors’ stories, and our research will aim to find surprising revelations in documents such as newspaper articles, court reports, wills and photographs. You may have one ancestor whose life you want to commemorate and investigate, perhaps because they served in the forces, were victims of persecution, helped make history or achieved glory as an athlete or artist. A tour of commemoration can help you sort fact from fiction, honour your ancestor’s life, and take you to the heart of their story.
- How can I give a tour as a gift?The majority of our tours are gifts to a loved one, whether from one spouse to another or from children to a parent for a ‘big’ birthday or wedding anniversary. 50th birthdays are currently very popular, as are leaving presents for work colleagues. We offer gift vouchers for any of our services.
- What happens if you don’t find anything?We have never yet researched a family with no results. Every family has a story, and even in far-flung countries there are always new findings to be made.
- How long should I allow between booking and going on the tour?It is best to allow at least 3 months for tours in Britain and 4 months for tours in mainland Europe. This is so the research process can be as thorough as possible and to guarantee the services of our all-important local researchers who will be working in your ancestral town. We will probably know where your tour will take you early on in the research process. We will confirm locations for your hotel stay(s) around 1-2 months before your tour.
- Do you really go anywhere in the world?Over the years Ancestral Footsteps has led families back to their roots in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Russia, Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine & North Africa. Through our Who Do You Think You Are? documentary work members of our team have researched families in America, Australasia and Asia. We will of course not travel to parts of the world that are deemed dangerous by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
- What does the researcher/guide do?
Your dedicated personal researcher/guide will be on hand throughout your journey to ensure you get the most out of your experience. Your researcher will be immersed in your family history and will help you get to know the people behind the names and dates, by exploring your ancestors’ lives and the day-to-day challenges they faced. He or she will take charge of your daily schedule to personally facilitate all the meetings and visits that will help you experience your ancestors' stories.
- What is a recce?A recce is a preparatory trip (sometimes called a ‘scoping mission’ in the USA), done by your researcher/guide in advance of your tour. A thorough recce helps us to ensure the smooth running of your schedule and lets us arrange special access to family locations, talk through our findings with local experts, visit local archives, and check out places of relevant historical interest.
- What sort of experts will be involved in my tour?Our researcher/guide will become an expert in your family’s story. When possible, we will arrange meetings on your tour with other experts such as archivists, local guides, or military historians who have new insights to offer into the history of your family.
- I have ancestors from different countries. Should I do separate tours, or combine them into a long tour?This is entirely your choice and may depend on the time you have available and on your current location. Clients travelling within Europe may want to separate their trips, especially if they want to travel with relatives from different branches of their family, while clients travelling a long way sometimes prefer long tours. We frequently offer multi-country tours, especially for clients who live outside Europe. For those looking for a long tour, our ‘Giant Footsteps’ package is the trip of a lifetime: a comprehensive look into all branches of your tree to identify the best stories. These tours often take in several countries in one week and clients may choose to travel by private jet.
- I have Jewish ancestry and believe all records from their home town were destroyed. Can you help?It is a common misconception that if records are not available online then they do not exist. They often do, but in local archives. Also, while many records were destroyed in the Second World War, many do survive. Some of our most rewarding tours have been for Jewish families, where we have started with little information and been able to reveal so much on the tour. Past tours have included visits to graves, mikvahs, former homes, synagogues and workplaces, all relevant to the family.
- I was always told I was related to royalty. Can you confirm this?We will investigate all sorts of family stories, though often your lineage may not be what you expect. While we are not accountable for any disappointment you may feel because of your ancestral heritage, we will say that whoever your ancestors are they all have good stories to tell.
- Can other members of my family come along?Of course. Our quotes are based on a couple travelling together and sharing a room. For two people staying in separate rooms there is a single supplement of £200 per overnight. For costs for additional family members please enquire, as this depends on which country your tour is in. We have led tours for groups of up to 16 family members. If you would like to bring along younger relatives, we recommend a minimum age of 10. An Ancestral Footsteps tour can be great fun for children who get into solving the clues – the process can catch young people’s imagination. One young ancestor-hunter who didn’t enjoy history at school declared at the end of his tour that it was “a really cool subject” after all.
- Why do your tours cost more in mainland Europe?Although we have a network of researchers and genealogists all over Europe, our core team of guides is based in England. This means there will be additional travel costs to reach other locations. In addition, tours in Europe incur extra costs for translators and interpreters. Tours in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland require flights for our researchers, and also a more complex and therefore more expensive research process than mainland Britain.
- Do you offer a research-only service?We can undertake just research but as we are principally an ancestral tour company we have a £5,000 minimum price for any research projects. As revelatory as a research package can be, our clients find that visiting the places where their ancestors came from transforms them from two-dimensional names on a page to three-dimensional characters. An Ancestral Footsteps tour will leave you with an important and emotional connection to your predecessors as individuals.
- What is the difference between family history and genealogy?To fully understand your ancestry we need to draw on the techniques of both genealogical and family history research. Genealogy traces the names, dates and relationships between your ancestors in order to construct your lineage. In contrast, family history will help you step into the shoes of your forebears and understand the reality of their lives and experience. Ancestral Footsteps’ interests lie in family history rather than straight genealogy. We work with excellent genealogists to build our clients’ family trees, but our research also goes beyond the family tree, sourcing the documents, photographic material and experts to bring your history alive.
- Is your tour package fully inclusive?Your package includes our weeks of in-depth research, your hotel accommodation and transport on the tour, the travel, accommodation and services of your guide both on the advance recce and on the tour itself, any meetings with experts, visits to any archives and copies of all your ancestral and any other documents. Not included are meals (except breakfast) and any flights or visas you may need to get. In very special circumstances we will inform you of any additional travel costs for our guide – this could be visas (eg. for Belarus) or extra internal flights once in the country of origin. We should already be able to give you an idea of this when we know your ancestors’ country of origin on booking.
- What is the payment process?You pay 50% of your tour package on booking and the remaining 50% 4 weeks before your tour departure date. For gift packages we accept 100% payment on purchasing a gift voucher. Payment can be made by international bank transfer, bank transfer or cheque. Ancestral Footsteps is a member of the Travel Trust Association. As a member of the TTA, Ancestral Footsteps operate a Trust account. Travel monies are placed in this account for your total financial protection.