Thursday, October 28, 2010

Choose Your Own Adventure

When you are planning your roots travel vacation, there are so many places you could go. After all, most people have ancestors from all over the world. So how do you narrow it down?

First, look at your ancestors. Use Google Maps or Family Atlas from Roots Magic to map out where they came from, lived and died.  Then look at where you have large concentrations of ancestors.  Those places are good possibilities for your first roots travel vacation.

Take into consideration the possibility of actually seeing places related to your ancestors. Some destinations might be more modernized than others. It is important to research the area to make sure you are not disappointed when you get there.

Think about what else you might like to see in the area and whether you can incorporate your roots travel into a larger vacation.  If you have ancestors from Ireland, for example, you might want to take an escorted tour to get a feel for the country before heading off on your own. Or you might want to do a fly and drive, driving from place to place, staying in bed and breakfasts, hitting sights interesting to you as well as ancestral sites.

If you have any other genealogists in the family, ask them where you should go. They might have some good ideas to help you narrow down your choices.

Regardless of where you go, roots travel is a rewarding experience with the right planning. Make sure you plan and use these tips to get the most out of your trip.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Roots Travel - Time Travel Not Necessary

A comment on an earlier post mentioned that time travel was the best way to undertake roots travel. While time travel would certainly be useful, it is definitely not needed to have a successful roots travel vacation. Yet because with time, all things change, you will want to put some thought into your trip before you leave.

Imagine that you are out on your roots vacation, ready to discover the place your great-great-grandfather called home. But you get there and there is one tiny problem. His house--indeed his entire neighborhood--has been replaced by apartment buildings. The only way you are going to see that house of his is hopping in a time machine.

Such an experience could be such a disappointing introduction to roots travel. Don't let it happen to you. Just take a few simple steps to find out whether the place you are planning to visit will inspire rather than disappoint.

1. Look at Google Maps. If you are lucky, there might be a street level view of the property, enabling you to quickly look and see whether the house matches any photographs you might have.
2. Contact a local genealogical society or find an online forum for the place you are visiting. You never know whether there might be someone willing to head over to where you want to go, take some photographs, and email them to you.
3. Contact the local tourist bureau to find out if there are any areas of the city that have buildings dating to the time your ancestors lived there. Seeing those buildings gives a sense of place and history and might be a good alternative.
4. Before you plan a visit to a church to see where your ancestors were married or christened, contact the church beforehand to make sure you are there on a day when it is open, or that someone can be there to let you in.
5. If you plan on visiting a gravesite, make sure the cemetery is still there. Or, if it is a U.S. cemetery, head on over to the Find A Grave website to see if it is listed, or even if there is a photo of the grave you want to visit.

There are many more things you can do to make sure that you have a great roots travel vacation without needing a time machine. What ideas do you have?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Roots Travel? Part 2

Make your next family reunion a roots travel reunion!
Roots travel not only provides a powerful connection with your travels and your ancestors, it can be a great way to strengthen the links in your living family.

When several generations of a family participate in roots travel, it brings them all together with a common tie to a place and a person. It's a real place with which to connect. Grandparents, parents and children can all participate in the discovery - they can bring the past into the present. For kids and adults it can be a kind of treasure hunt.

Depending on the age of the kids, you might more of an overview of a place as a side trip from a larger vacation. Getting kids interested in their heritage might at times be difficult, but it is always worth it. Kids need to know who they are and roots travel can help inform them of that.

Roots travel does not have to only visit the places dead ancestors lived. One great roots travel itinerary to connect generations might be to go to the town the grandparent grew up in to show where they lived. It can be a chance for Grandma or Grandpa to let their stories become real for their grandkids.

Roots travel is about connections. So go out and start making connections.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Roots Travel? Part 1

The internet has made obtaining genealogical records easier than ever. With the click of a mouse, a person can find out all sorts of information about their ancestors and the places those ancestors lived. Pictures of gravestones in cemeteries around the world can be found online. You can contact people in far-off places and they can take pictures of places related to your ancestors, upload the pictures, and email them back to you.

So why roots travel? What does roots travel have to offer that can not be found online or at your local family history center?

1. Roots travel creates a powerful connection to your past. 

When you are physically looking at the church your ancestors were married in, the feeling that you get is a connection much stronger than looking at a photograph. You are standing there, where your ancestor may have stood an hundred years before. It's almost as if your ancestor is standing there beside you acting as tour guide to their past, which is also your past. The place you are seeing had a part in shaping your ancestor's life, and therefore yours as well. It is an amazing and awe-inspiring feeling.

2. Roots travel creates a powerful connection to your travels.

We all know what it is like to travel the tourist trail. We walk through the horrendous lines into overcrowded museums that funnel everyone into the gift shop at the end. But roots travel is different.

Roots travel is almost always off the tourist trail. Somehow, everyone's ancestors seem to have come from tiny villages spread across the countryside. You have to travel closer to the ground. Bed and breakfasts are a common place to stay. And when you get there, there is no audio-guide. Your genealogical research is your guide. You walk where your ancestors walked. You talk to the locals; maybe you find the local historical museum. But it's all connected to you. This place you are visiting becomes your temporary home - a new consciousness seeps into you as you realize you ARE Irish, or Scottish, or wherever it is you are visiting.

Roots travel makes connections, and those connections are powerful.They are connections that shape your feeling for your family and for your ancestors. A picture is worth a thousand words, but but being there in person? That's priceless.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Is Roots Travel?

Before devoting an entire blog to roots travel, let's discuss exactly what I mean when I talk about roots travel.

Roots travel is--simply put--traveling to a location where your ancestors or relatives lived, worked, or died. You might visit a church in which they got married or were christened. You might hunt down their gravestone. You might visit the street they lived on, the house they lived in, or the places they frequented. Maybe you just want to visit the region to get a feel for the area. It's all roots travel.

The roots you travel to see can be as close to the ground or as deep as you want. You might have an ancestor from the 1700's and you would like to see locations connected to them. Or maybe you just want to visit the town your mother or father grew up in. Your roots might grow in Ireland, Virginia, Australia, or the town next to the one where you live. It's all roots travel.

Roots travel can be for research or it can be to learn more about your heritage. It might be the sole purpose of your trip or it might be a small side trip. Maybe you'll go the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or maybe you'll go right to the source. It's all roots travel.

Roots travel might be the beginning of your genealogy research or the end. You might do a lot of planning or you might just be in the area and figure you'll take a quick look. It's all roots travel.That's the beauty of roots travel - it is what you make it.

In later posts, I'll be talking about why do roots travel and how to do roots travel. There are so many reasons and so many things to think about and do, it's going to take a lot of blog posts. After all, what is this blog? It's all about roots travel.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Welcome to Roots Traveler

Welcome to Roots Traveler, the blog for anyone interested in traveling for genealogy research or traveling to see their heritage or their roots.

If you are do genealogy, whether professionally or as a hobby, chances are you see records from places all over the world. After all, most people can trace their roots to all sorts of places.

Maybe you have dreamed of taking a research trip somewhere. Let's say your ancestors are from Ireland.  Have you ever dreamed of traveling to Ireland to do some research, even though you know you can easily get the info on the internet? Or maybe you've dreamed about seeing the house your great-grandfather left in Ireland before coming to America. Maybe your dreams are closer, and you'd like to see the battlefield where your ancestor fought in the Civil War.

This blog is about those experiences. How to have them, how to set up your own trips, things to see, travel news that might impact your travels, and resources that will help you realize your dream.

Roots Traveler is a blog by Adam Glenn, former owner of Family Roots Travel. Though I don't do Roots Travel as a business anymore, it's something I am passionate about it, so I hope you enjoy this blog and become a roots traveler yourself.