Maegan Kasteler | Jan 2, 2019

Ancestral Homeland Vacationing

Are you a planner? Do you find yourself planning major events months in advance? What about vacations? Whether or not you’re a planner, now is a great time to start thinking about your summer vacation!

Odds are you’ve heard rumblings about the newest travel craze sweeping the world, fondly known to some as “ancestral homeland vacationing.”

Start by doing some family history research to discover where your ancestors are from. Some people find it easiest to complete a DNA ancestry test to discover their origins; others have found concrete information about their ancestors while doing their own research. However you choose your destination, the next step is to plan!

There are a multitude of ways you can incorporate family history into your travels. Here are just a few:

Visit Old Homes/Important Places

This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you do some research, you might be able to find some old homes or public places your ancestors lived in or near. Go explore, take pictures and notes, and add them to your family history resources.

Visit Records Places

Here is another easy idea: find local records places. Whether it’s a church, library, or hall of records, this is a great place to get some research done. Don't forget to bring something to take notes in and some small bills, since some of these places might charge a small fee to enter or to make copies of records.

Visitors Bureau

Many different places have a local visitors bureau where you can find information about the area. This is a great place to ask locals questions that might lead to new discoveries in your genealogy.

Immersive Culture Experience

While vacationing in your ancestral homeland, treat yourself to an immersive cultural experience. Find local family restaurants, and try the local food. Stay away from tourist traps, and fill your time with an authentic experience. Many traditions today may be fairly similar to what your ancestors experienced. Do some research in advance, and find out if there are any local or national holidays or other important celebrations occurring while you are there. Try celebrating with the locals.

Visit Grave Sites

Using resources such as FindAGrave.com or the Map My Ancestors tool in the FamilySearch Family Tree app you can find the graves of your progenitors. Visiting these grave sites can offer valuable information about your ancestors and might just lead you to fill some holes in your tree. You can download the FamilySearch Tree app on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

Meet the Locals

When you sit down to eat at a local place, don't be afraid to ask the people at the table next to you some questions. Ask them about the area and its history; you might discover some interesting things about your ancestral homeland. Every time you have the opportunity to talk to a local about what you're doing in their country, take it! You'll learn new things, and some people might even be able to show you pictures and artifacts or point you in the right direction to find what you are looking for.

Give Yourself Time

When planning your trip, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get lost in your adventure. You might have a plan, but you likely won't know exactly where your research will take you or how much you will find.

Leave Room in Luggage for Mementos

Finally, make sure you leave some room in your luggage for mementos. Bring some empty folders to carefully transport documents. You’re going to want to bring home some souvenirs of your adventures tracing your ancestors’ steps.

Wherever your vacation takes you, enjoy seeing and experiencing some of what your ancestors saw and experienced. Share your experiences with us on social media by tagging our official social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you want to travel to the home of your ancestors? You could win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to your ancestral homeland by entering your own original film to RootsTech Film Fest! To learn more, find the rules, and submit your video visit RootsTechFilmFest.org.

Maegan Kasteler

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