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Would You Like to Be a Genealogy Tourist?

It’s time to think of spring trips to family gravesites and plan for some travel. Many people would like to see where their family came from. Whether you want to venture a short distance to a neighboring state or travel to other countries, it is all doable.

Genealogy tourists are a big thing! Whether your family came from eastern New York, Connecticut, Maine, or Pennsylvania, these are manageable drives or train trips. If your family came into the U.S. through Canada, go to Canada and feel what your ancestors felt coming from their country to Canada and then to the U.S.

Did your family come into the country through Louisiana, a huge port town that accommodated many men and women who later made their way up the Mississippi to reach the Buffalo area? Do you want to see Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia, Poland, Sweden, or Africa? It is all doable. Just find a genealogy tour group headed that way.

What better trip to plan than to the Family History Research Center in Salt Lake City, Utah? It is five floors of voluminous information relating to ancestors-- lots and lots of ancestors. It is free to the public. The library is filled with friendly, helpful people who actually know where information is located.

The Fenton Museum in Jamestown, NY, is offering a tour to Salt Lake City from October 26-29, 2017, specializing in Swedish ancestry. From November 1-8, they will be covering general genealogy. Their travel plans cover many options but they allow you to choose your own hotel and travel method to ensure that you can manage the accommodations you specifically need. Information can be obtained by calling 716-664-6256.

The Buffalo area has many genealogy centers. For a list of genealogy tours or trips to consider, check out <www.cyndislist.com/traveltours-and-cruises/> where a whole host of options are available. Ann-Mar Genealogy Trips to Salt Lake City, UT, has several tour dates available through the remainder of 2017 and 2018. Celtic Quest has trips to Dublin, Ireland. Apulian Ancestry has options in Italy. Wherever you want to go, there are genealogy tours that will get you there.

Now the question is, what am I going to go “there” to do? If you are going somewhere to smell the air of your ancestors, taste the food, and walk the earth, book a nice tour and go and enjoy yourself. This kind of tour might be considered a “heritage tour.” When you call or email to ask about tours, tell them this is your goal for the trip.

If you are going on a genealogy tour, you may want to ask more specific questions. Let’s start by being honest about your needs. If you cannot hike seven countries in six days, you may want to reconsider your tour activities. Do you have special requirements? Do you use a walker, cane, or wheelchair? Be honest! It won’t be fun if you can’t get around. You will have paid a lot of money (or even a little money for local NY state tours) because you can’t get around. I would like to say that every place in the U.S. is wheelchair or walker accessible but that’s not true.

When traveling to foreign countries, there is no expectation of walker/wheelchair accommodations. However, that does not mean that you can’t go, only that you need to be up front with your tour guides about your specific needs. There are many ways to get into buildings and there can be walker/wheelchair transportation available with proper notice. When making hotel or sleeping accommodations, consider that a hip, knee, or ankle replacement may be best served by having a bathroom commode that is higher and more accessible. You just need to plan on it in advance.

Do you only speak English? Although English is the worldwide language of business, it is not necessarily the language spoken everywhere. It would be a good idea to identify that you need an English-speaking tour guide and genealogical research guide.

I would recommend that you contact the U.S. State Department or visit their website at <https://travel.state.gov> to check for travel alerts and warnings. I am a firm believer that unless I am an active participant in any conflict, revolution, or war, I should stay home under those conditions. You should also research purchasing travel insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason. It costs a little more, but is well worth it. The State Department has a Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) that should be checked out as well.

Check out what other countries have to say about travel in areas of your interest. The United Kingdom, the Canadians, and the Australian government put information online. You will have a broader understanding of your travel destination.

Family Tree Tours offer a variety of Genealogy and Heritage tours as does Ancestry with their <www.ancestralfootsteps.com/experience> tours which offers extensive background and a personal researcher who will accompany and guide you.

Heritage Centers throughout the U.S. offer tours and can offer suggestions for local accommodations, such as the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, OK, which houses the Cherokee Family Research Center.

Federation for Genealogical Societies Alaskan Cruise and EOGN’s website features a calendar of genealogy events, including the Legacy Genealogy Cruise of the Pacific Coast in September 2017.

If you want to actually conduct genealogy, you need a plan. “What do you mean, you’re closed?” is not the phrase you want to say when you have traveled halfway across the planet and spent a lot of money. Contact courthouses, libraries, and other repositories you want to see to make sure they are open.

Have one or two family lines that you want to locate and follow at your travel location. Make sure you search indexes and research family lines before you leave; it will cut down on research time in that country. Check out state, regional, and local university libraries and genealogy centers. It is important to make copies of all charts that you are bringing. Leave the originals at home! Put your name and address on all of your materials.

Practice makes perfect. Planning to take photographs of tombstones or making tombstone rubbings requires practice at home before you leave. Have plenty of office supplies, pencils, and blank charts with you. Many records repositories do not permit the use of pens. If you use a laptop, make sure you have paper and pencils just in case of machine failure or loss of power. Bring an actual paper map with the locations you are interested in seeing identified on the map, with the addresses, so you can plot your course.

Most importantly, bring your sense of humor and adventure. Serendipity may be awaiting your arrival. A handful of business cards stating your name, home address, local address, and a blank to fill in the ancestral name you are looking for could lead to actually finding current relatives in your homeland.

Bio: I am a Certified Genealogist and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I believe that the hobby of genealogy is fun, exciting, and very satisfying. Through researching genealogy, you may add skills, meet new friends, and gain new respect for those who have gone before you. You may reach me via email at ‘getreganmail@gmail.com’ with questions or comments. I thoroughly enjoy the hobby and hope that you will too. Please label your photos, especially the photos of ‘friends’ so that you don’t drive your descendants’ crazy trying to decide who these photos of ‘friends’ are related to.

 

By Marjory Regan

A brief bio of Marjory Regan: I am a member of the Williams Mills Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and a “Certified Genealogist’ Thank you for your questions, comments, problems and successes. Email me at getreganmail@gmail.com. I think genealogy is a fascinating hobby; I hope you will, too. Get Started. Do something small every day, it all add up. Label the photos! First & Last names and approximate date of the photo. Do it for an hour while watching TV.