Many people will tell you they are part Scottish, have a bit of English, and maybe a bit of German ancestry. We all seem to have an innate desire to know where we are from and where our ancestors have gone before us. Planning to travel to the locations our ancestors have lived is a great way to see new places and understand their lives and stories.
Before you decide to travel to your Ancestor’ hometown, there are some things you should do to make sure your family history tour is successful. First, you must research as much genealogy as possible before you actually travel. You should then do some local research on the areas you are traveling to; map out what places you should visit. Also, take some time to study the maps of where you are traveling.
Do Your Genealogical Homework
It would help if you did your genealogical homework. There is no substitute for going to another country or place and having no idea what you are looking at or why. The first thing you must be sure to do is your homework to know where you are going and why you are going there.
You can read the blog on some practical steps to prepare to started on your genealogy and family history travel. Read our blog 10 Tips for Preparing A Trip to Find Your Ancestors; you can read it by clicking here. This blog post has many basic practical tips of things you must do before considering traveling on a family history tour.
Online Local Sources Research
There are many countries where genealogical records are not online, and to do any significant research, you may need to travel to the country or location. This can even be the case in some places in the United States.
Vietnam and Vietnamese genealogical research is a perfect example of this. Most of the Vietnamese family records are in the hands of the family clans. So if you really want to find your Vietnamese genealogy, you may need to make a trip to Vietnam. You can read more about this with our blog Vietnamese Genealogy, Searching for Your Family History in Vietnam by clicking here.
Here are some places you should check out for the local records when you are searching for your ancestors:
- Genealogical Societies, Organizations, and Libraries – Many places have Genealogical societies, Family HIstory Organizations, or Genealogy Libraries. Many of these societies, organizations, and libraries have either paid or volunteer patrons who have a lot of local genealogical and historical knowledge. You can try to search for these online. Many of these societies, organizations, and libraries also have websites, newsletters, and other information.
- Historical Organizations – Besides the Genealogical Societies, Organizations, and Libraries, you can also check out the historical organizations in the area. Though these historical organizations may not have actual records, they usually have some local historical knowledge to aid you in your search. Some of them may even have a local museum that you can visit with some information and genealogical data.
- Check out Repositories, Archives, or Churches – Many Repositories, Archives or Churches may have genealogical records. For many of these places, you may need to make an appointment in advance. Try to get their information before you travel so that you will know if you need an appointment.
- Local Cemeteries – Try to find some information on local cemeteries and see if your ancestors are buried there. There are a lot of great websites that now have information on cemeteries and graves. One of the best websites to find this information is Find a Grave. You can find out more by clicking here. If you can find a grave of one of your ancestors, you may also find other family members buried near your family member when you go to the cemetery.
- Local Courthouses – Many of the local Courthouses also have some records that may not be online. It may be hard to get information for some of them beforehand, but you can try to find out what information they have.
- Local Government Organizations – In some countries, some of the records may be kept at local government organizations or even police stations. This is why doing as much research ahead of time is important since you need to know if you need to contact local government organizations. Some of these local government organizations may also require you to prove you are related to the persons you seek to find. So it would be best if you knew this ahead of time to know if you needed to prepare or prove anything before you travel there.
Research Before You Travel
Even though it is not always possible, it is best if you can try to do as much of this research and information before you travel. Some of this basic information would include:
- Contact and Address Information – It would be good to contact and address who to contact and where they are located. This will save you a lot of time when you get to your destination.
- Open Hours – You should also know what hours and days they are open.
- What Information They May Have – It would be good to know what kind of information the organization may have for you to look at. This way, you will know if it is worthwhile to see them. I have found many times that you may need to go there to really know what information they have.
- If An Appointment is Required – It would be good to know if an appointment is required to view the information you want to view. If possible, you should try to make that appointment before you travel.
- If Other Data is Needed – It would be good to know if any other data is needed for you to be able to get the information you desire. It would be best to try to prepare all this before you actually travel.
- Translation – For some places, you visit the people may not speak English. Today, you can use some translators for general translations, but if you need to read some of the old records and are not experienced in this, you may need to hire a local translator. You can try to check out the websites Freelancer.com by clicking here or Smartcat by clicking here to find a translator.
Study Some Maps
Take some time to study some maps of the area. You can find out a lot of information from both old and new maps. If you have old address, land, or other records, you can also locate the areas on the map your ancestors had lived.
Here are some very good online maps:
- Google Maps – Google Maps is one of the best online maps around. You can find out more about Google Maps by clicking here.
- OpenStreetMap – This is a global map that has a lot of data about roads, cafes, trails, and cafes. You can find out more by clicking here.
- Bing Maps – Bing Maps is powered by Microsoft and has a lot of information. You can find out more by clicking here,
- Michelin Maps – This map is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Michelin Group, and they have good maps for Europe. You can find out more by clicking here.
- Mapquest – Mapquest is an American mapping service owned by AOL. You can find out more by clicking here.
Going on a genealogical tour, especially one overseas, is a great way to see a country or location. By doing your research beforehand, not only will you get a feel for the area and the sites, but you come out of your trip with added information about your ancestors, and you will discover their lives and stories.
Should I Get My DNA Done Before I Travel?
Before you travel on your family history tour, we find that getting your DNA done by one of the qualified genealogically DNA companies is a great way to confirm where your ancestors are from. You can read our blog 10 Tips for Preparing A Trip to Find Your Ancestors by clicking here. We have listed out the major Genealogical DNA companies.
Should I Interview Any Living Relatives Before I Travel?
We suggest that before you go on your family history tour that you can take the time to interview some of your oldest family members and friends who may have valuable information to help you with your research and your travels. You can read our blog 10 Tips for Preparing A Trip to Find Your Ancestors by clicking here. to find out tricks and tips on how to properly interview your oldest living relatives before you travel.