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 His house--indeed his entire neighborhood--has been replaced by apartment buildings.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?