If you’ve ever seen the show Who Do You Think You Are?, you know that genealogy research will sometimes take you to the strangest places. Take a cue from the show and design your next vacation around an exploration of your family roots.
If you know that you have ancestors in a country in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, or somewhere else around the globe, start doing some research now so you’ll have leads to follow when you get there. You don’t need hard evidence to have a great time, anyway.
Even if you don’t turn up any old documents at your destination, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some old-world activities. The best genealogy software and sites can often give you clues about where to go next, but sometimes you hit a dead end, and that’s okay.
Follow your heritage, indulge in some local activities and dining, and make your own history.
You’ll need to flex your creative muscles if your research leads you to a country that may interest you for a visit but it doesn’t keep good records. In some cases they’ve been destroyed, but other times they’re tucked away in archives that aren’t immediately evident.
If you can, engage the help of a local who knows the system and speaks the language. This can often be done via a tour guide company.
Make sure you know any regulations going in, such as whether copies can be made or you need proof of identification beyond your passport. You don’t want to get stuck seconds away from a discovery and find out you need more paperwork.
Luckily, the research you do leading up to this moment should prepare you well.
Mixing business with pleasure
For most amateur genealogists, the thrill of the hunt is more than enough. Even if you don’t get hard evidence of an ancestor in a faraway land and era, the journey to seek it out is a memory to treasure in itself.
Make sure you choose a destination that’s going to be a blast and reasonably memorable no matter where your family tree reaches. Genealogy makes you naturally more curious about the history of a land, so you’ll have a better grasp of famous sights, museums, and other cultural hot spots.
Most important, don’t forget to create your own archives. Photos of the trip are an excellent addition to a virtual family tree, and generations down the line might use your vacation snapshots for serious research.