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How to Plan a Roots Trip

How to Plan for a Roots Trip  Find more genealogy blogs at FamilyTree.comReady to plan out a roots trip? This type of genealogy focused vacation requires more planning than a typical vacation would. Getting the most you can out of a roots trip involves combining your genealogy research with real world locations (as well as things like travel and hotel arrangements).

Where do you want to go?
You might be aware that your family came to the United States from Ireland, or Germany, or Spain. It makes sense to plan to travel to your “mother country” on your roots trip. However, if you don’t know what city, town, or village your ancestors lived in, you probably won’t get much family history out of your trip.

First, before you do any other planning, you need to figure out your destination. Does the place your ancestor lived in have the same name today as it did then? If not, you need to do additional research to find out what the modern name is. Aim for that location, and plan your trip around it.

Consider hiring a translator.
Are you fluent in the language that is spoken in the place you want to travel to? It might be a good idea to arrange for a translator to help you. He or she can talk to the people who live where your ancestor once did and ask questions. Did any of them know your ancestors?

A translator can also be useful when you are searching for church records or other archives. This is especially true if the records are not written in English. Do some investigating and see if you can hire a translator who will meet you at a specific location.

Use a map.
MyHeritage suggests that you use a big map. Start marking the sites that you, and your family, want to visit on your roots trip. Look for museums that focus on the culture of the area, historical museums, graveyards, and courthouses that hold vital records. Get online and see if the location has some historic buildings that allow tours.

How far away are these points of interest from each other? Factor that in as you plan what to do on each day of your trip. It is important to find out the days, and times, that each location of interest will be open to the public. Can you visit it for free, or is there a cost?

Keep your phone charged.
A smartphone is an incredibly useful tool for a genealogist. Use it to take photos of headstones, records, and buildings that have significance to your family history. Use an app that lets you make a list of things you don’t want to forget. Make sure your phone stays charged! Bring your charger cable with you.

Image by williamson on Flickr.

Related Articles at

* Frugal Alternatives to a Genealogy Road Trip

* Tips for Planning a Family History Road Trip

* How Much Does Your Genealogy Hobby Cost?

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