FAQs

  • 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.