My mom has been working on our family genealogy since I was in high school. And over the decades she has discovered quite a bit of family history. I have several memories of trips that I took to Washington, DC with a list from mom – things she wanted me to find in the National Archives, the Library of Congress, or at the National Museum of the US Navy. She even tasked me with a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
My parents’ “genealogy travel” over the years has taken on more interesting forms (not just digging through old dusty paper files or stinky microfiche). My parents have gone “ancestor hunting” many times over the years – crawling (literally) through graveyards to do headstone rubbings, meeting with potential distant cousins that they’ve found through their research, and of course riffling through endless stacks of documents in city halls, libraries, archives, and churches.
Genealogy travel can take you all over the United States, tracing ancestors back to the Civil War, Revolutionary War, the Mayflower; but it can also take you overseas. Alex Haley may have spurred genealogy travel when he published his book “Roots” as some descendants of slaves have been able to trace their ancestors back to Africa (and have been able to go back to their ancestors’ villages). Holocaust survivors have taken their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to Europe on Holocaust Tours.
Tips on preparing for Genealogy Travel: Donna Przecha provides some great tips on how to prepare for a trek into your ancestral past. Two of her most important tips are to do your homework and make appointments in advance. When spending a healthy sum of money to possibly travel overseas in search of the family roots, you don’t want to waste time (or money) ending up in the wrong village, or getting there to find that the buildng you need to visit is closed, or the person you need to talk to is on vacation.
What to pack for Genealogy Travel: besides the standard travel gear (clothes, toiletries, passports, etc.) there are specific items you should pack for your genealogical research endeavors while traveling:
Genealogy travel or ancestor hunting, whatever you may call it, can be the ultimate in family travel or adventure travel (it all depends on how you define adventure). With good research done beforehand, and careful travel planning, you can make some amazing memories as you research your family’s roots.
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