In one of your meditative moments, have you ever wondered who your ancestors are? Did it ever occur to you that tracing your roots is something that you can do to assuage your interest and give a direction to your wonderings? You may not be aware of it yet, but there are many people who are as interested and driven. This is a fast-rising area of travel called DNA or family tree travel.
These people travel to distant places to trace their genealogy. Armed with some facts, they do research. The Internet is big help when unearthing information about the past. Check out websites dedicated to DNA or family tree travel such as ancestry.com, a web portal to billions of indexed records. Once you get to your destination, solicit help and solid information from local libraries, archived city/town and church records, and museums.
Take the case of Laura Galloway who found out about her genealogy through travel. Read about her story in Who Do You Think You Are? Why DNA Travel is a Booming Business written by Heidi Mitchell and posted in Yahoo Travel.
“… She was a successful media consultant in Manhattan, with two cats and an apartment in Chelsea. But when a work trip sent her off to Sweden three years ago, she felt an odd connection. Not only did many of the people in Northern Sweden’s Lapland area share some of her features — the snow-white hair, the almond-shaped eyes — they also seemed linked to her deep-down, in a way she couldn’t explain.”
A DNA testing that the genetic testing lab called “23andMe” conducted proved that her gut feeling have a strong foundation. She, the adopted Galloway, is in truth half-Sami. Sami is considered to be Northern Europe’s oldest indigenous tribe. Prompted by her desire to learn more about herself and her people, Laura Galloway, moved to Kautokeino, studied the language and blogged about her new adventures.
Her effort to find about her roots wasn’t really very hard. All it took was a DNA testing of a small amount of swabbed tissues. It is, however, for some people who do not know where or how to start. It can take time and more travels. To make things easier, pick some tips from Aimee Cebulski when she went to Torino, Italy with her mom to trace her maternal family tree. The article “Family tree travel: How to create your own journey into the past” for CNN-Travel Section offers an account of that travel and tips.
“This is the house?” my mom asks, turning around.
“Yes,” says our guide. “This is where your grandmother was born.”
My mother and I have traveled more than 6,000 miles to explore Candia Canavese, a tiny village outside Torino, Italy, founded in the fifth century.
We’re here to learn more about our heritage and get a sense of where her family is from.
We’re not the first ones to visit for that reason.
Even though Candia Canavese has a population of just 1,200, our guide says plenty of other travelers have come searching for records, data, photos and that intangible sense of history you can’t get without visiting a place yourself.
The author offered some advises to others who would want to embark on their own family tree trip?
- “Get your history organized before you leave.” This will help you save time when you get to your destination. Start with whatever you know about your elders – the places they talked about during family gatherings when you were young or some old pictures. If you know their names, birthdays, birthplaces, schools they attended, churches where they got married, etc., you can start gathering information online.
- “Let them know you’re coming.” Find a way to connect to some locals before packing your bags and boarding a plane. It is nice to check out surviving relatives, but if you are starting in square one, contact people whose jobs deal with handling archived data. Sending out information in advance can give them lead time so they can cover more.
- “On-site research: Tombstones and immigration offices.” Going to cemeteries is a valuable experience and mode of research. Tombstones usually have details aside from names, there are also dates of birth, death, and often relatives are buried closer in one place.
- “Immigration offices.” If you want information goldmines, head to the immigration offices. These have voluminous records related to naturalization records and passport applications. Most of these contain thorough information on family records, addresses and place of work.
- “Military/VA Offices.” There are also lots of information you can gather from military pension records that include dates as well as location of service, time spent on missions and assignments, and awards and recognition. This is more difficult to access, but it will be worth your time and effort.
Aimee Cebulski and her mom were able to use some of these tips so that they were able to connect to a guide who came from the village where some people they need to talk to live. By advancing information, much of the groundwork can be laid and everything was easy. This tactic left them enough time to enjoy their holiday as well in the place where their ancestors once walked the grounds.