Travel

Travel Trend: How to Plan Your Heritage Travel Experience

Are you in need of inspiration for where to travel in 2020? Look inside yourself, literally.

Whatever you decide to call it, DNA/Ancestry/Heritage travel is on the rise in 2020 thanks to home DNA kits. A report in MIT Technology Review revealed that, by the start of last year, 26 million people had taken an ancestry DNA test at home. These at-home tests have made finding and connecting with our roots easier than ever.

Heritage Travel provides an outlet for many to reconnect and go about the process of self-discovery, plus it’s really fun! Here are a few tips to help you plan the ultimate ancestorial trip.

Research Before You Go

There are two types of tools you can use as you start your research: DNA tests and genealogical records. I would recommend using both as it’s fun to discover who is in your family tree.

As a history nerd, I love knowing the stories and connections of the past, so I started with genealogical records. Ancestry.com was where I began my research. I divided my family tree into four (starting with my grandparents) and went back as far as I could using knowledge from family folklore. Once the stories from my family stopped being useful, I upgraded to Ancestry’s World Explorer package since I knew part of my family moved to the US in the 1840s.

What did I learn? My maternal grandmother’s family has been in the US since the 1600s, and my dad’s whole family is not from any of the counties in Ireland like we thought.

When it comes to DNA tests, there are so many options. I, personally, went with Ancestry.com’s DNA service. Not only because the results would align with the genealogical research I already conducted, but also because it has the second-largest match database and the most number of ethnic regions. I wanted my results to reflect more on where I am from and not my genetic makeup. I found this article from CNET helpful when I ordered my test.

Consider Location & Budget

When it comes to planning your first heritage trip, there are several different options available to you. The most-effective option is to discover the city where your ancestors first landed when they arrived in a new country. By keeping the trip domestic, it will be easier on your wallet and logistical planning, and there won’t be a language barrier.

If you are ready to travel abroad, consider visiting the country on the top of your DNA profile. Then ask yourself, do you want to connect with family, or do you want to discover the culture? The answers to these questions will help you with planning your heritage trip.

Map Out Your Time

Whether you are looking to visit the church where your great-great-grandparents married or you want to see as much of your ancestors’ homeland as possible, mapping out the trip will help you manage your time wisely. You do not have to have your schedule planned to the minute that excludes all flexibility, but it is a good idea to know how long you would like to spend in each location so you can allocate your time.

Manage Your Expectations

Go into your trip with the acceptance of the things you learn, see, and experience. It is hard not to travel with expectations, but not all genealogical trips end in a happy ending. There are many times a missing piece to the family puzzle and dead ends, which can leave travelers feeling let down. Even if you can’t track down a specific church or house, you can still walk the streets your ancestors did, experience their culture, eat similar types of food, and get a general sense of their lives. Sometimes this experience has more of an impact than finding the missing puzzle piece.

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