Every time you travel or experience another region or culture, you probably learn something about yourself along the way.
The world isn’t as big as it seems once we make connections and find similarities with others.
And now, travel companies want to help you discover who you really are and where you came from.
But be careful what you wish for.
Go back from whence you came…
People have always kept records of their family history.
Before the days of modern technology, historians could use land records, letters, diaries, and hand-drawn family trees in order to learn about our past.
Then came the internet, opening the door to a wealth of information that could tell us even more about how the world used to be—and all right at our fingertips.
But in its early days, most of this research was done by professionals – researchers, scientists, and teachers.
However, we don’t have to rely on just a handful of black and white photos saved by our grandparents anymore.
In this day and age, everybody who’s anybody wants to trace their genealogy.
The fact that tracing our roots has become so trendy not only benefits our own families, but future historians. The mad rush to find out where – and who – we came from will be a great help to those who come after us.
And… it’s big business. Really big business.
Families are spending big bucks to purchase access to online databases, as well as the oh-so-popular genetic DNA kits.
Now, I’m not really into voluntarily giving someone my DNA. Not that I have anything to hide, but I’ve seen too many science fiction and murder mystery movies.
But millions of people are doing it so they can isolate specific geographical regions where they may discover even more information about their roots.
And this has spurred another big business venture…
Now that you’ve spit into a tube or swabbed your cheek and mailed it off to one of several companies, you’ve probably received a breakdown of your ancestral roots by region and culture.
So now, the next logical step is to go see exactly where your family got its start. Fifty percent Irish? Well, book a flight to the Emerald Isle and see where it all began!
But there’s much more to it than that – and people are always looking for more, right?
They want to know where their clan lived in the Highlands, or which African village their great-great-great grandfather was a respected elder.
So genealogy companies are partnering with travel companies in order to give you the most complete picture of your family’s roots. In fact, it’s become such a trend that companies like AncestryDNA have started their own travel departments.
They know the best way to make money is to market towards a person’s sense of identity and the emotions that come with learning their family’s history.
It’s brilliant because “finding oneself” is just about the hottest commodity there is nowadays – and people are willing to shell out a big chunk of change for priceless information about themselves and those they love.
Sure, you can travel to your DNA-determined country of origin and be content walking the same land your ancestors once did. But, again, don’t we always want more?
I want it all…and I want it now.
These companies are offering it all – and then some – to connect you to your past.
Ancestry.com, for example, offers you a pre-trip meeting with one of their genealogists where they go over your DNA profile and craft the perfect itinerary for you.
They’ll set you up in a local B&B where you can talk to the sixth-generation owner who knows everything about everyone who has ever lived there.
Or, they’ll schedule a meeting at a local college, university, or museum so you can meet with a regional specialist to determine which historic sites are most likely part of your family’s history.
Not enough? Some of these companies include the services of genealogy “investigators” who will pore through local library, hospital, and church records, and even talk to elderly residents of nursing homes to glean more information about you and yours.
You know what all that means though – it’s gonna cost you.
Yes, you could probably just hop a plane to the village where you think your ancestors came from and go off asking a bunch of questions yourself.
But that takes alot of time – time you could be spending actually following credible leads that someone else already researched for you.
You can even take advantage of paying for your own “journey specialist” who will take you to homes (they think) your past family members lived in, or the school (they think) they attended.
It’s all pretty amazing and very cool, but it’s not always completely accurate.
People like to throw stuff away, stories change over time (remember the game “telephone?”), and alot of this is guesswork.
Guesswork you’re going to pay alot for.
It’s completely natural that we would be interested in visiting the homes and lands of our ancestors; that we’d want to learn as much as we can about ourselves and our heritage.
(And it makes a great gift!)
But like everything else, ancestry tourism will follow the law of supply and demand. Right now, demand is huge – and so are the prices.
Only time will tell if the ancestry boom continues or what future technology will allow us to uncover.
It’s all going to depend on how much worth travelers assign to discovering—and visiting—their family’s roots.
For some, it’s enough to have a handful of photos and a few generations of the family tree written down in a scrapbook.
For others, they’ll go to any lengths necessary to find everything there is to know. Maybe it helps them feel a little more significant in this big, wide world of ours.
Whatever your preference, there’s a customizable ancestry travel package available.
And this popular trend certainly proves one thing – every life is significant and valuable and has an impact on future generations.
And honestly, if you’ve got the resources, it’s probably worth the cost seeing your part in all of it.