Family heritage tours allow you to connect with your ancestors by visiting their homeland—and many people find that as they discover their past, they reconnect to themselves.
On tours, you can see where your ancestors were born, where they lived, where they went to school and where they were married! You can get an idea of what was happening around them at the time; what world events formed their ideas, hopes, and dreams. You can get a better understanding of who they were and where they came from as you travel across their old stomping grounds.
Group Tours and Personalized Tours
There are lots of companies that offer family heritage tours—some offer totally personalized tours, some offer group tours of specific regions, and some a mixture of both. The benefits of a personalized tour are clear—you get to determine where you go, which villages/towns to stop at, and which questions to ask. The focus is totally on your family.
Of course, personalized tours are typically more expensive. Group tours can be a less expensive option, and there are benefits to embarking on a trip with a group of people.
For example, on group tours, you’re with other like-minded people who are interested in exploring their history; you’re also with a group of people who all come from the same place, and that can be really special. You can ask each other questions, share stories, and create a camaraderie that you wouldn’t get while going on a tour by yourself.
Get Specific with Your Tour
Wherever you’re from, you’re almost certain to find a family heritage tour to take you there. Popular tours cover Europe, Africa, Asia, and there are even some that focus on America. Tours can be further broken down by country, region, city, etc.
Family Tree Tours, for example, offers group tours all over Europe; Ancestral Tours offers totally customizable tours of Poland and Eastern Europe (right down to the small town you’re grandparents came from); My Ireland Heritage boasts that it will “find your Ancestors and exact house location from the 1700’s to the late 1800’s, and all available records in Ireland.”
As you can see, there are different kinds of family heritage tours available depending on where you’re from and what you’re looking for.
The more you know about your family’s origins, the more you’ll get out of the tour. For example, if you know your grandparents came from Eastern Germany, you can sign up for a tour that covers that region. But if you know the city that they’re from—Leipzig, for example—you can pick a tour that you know will cover that city. The more specific you get, the more you’re likely to get out of the tour.
What if You Don’t Know Where You’re From?
If you have general knowledge about where your grandparents or great-grandparents came from, but you would really like to get specific and don’t know who to ask, you can look into genealogy/ancestry sites. The sheer abundance of these sites is testament to just how popular they are, and just how many people yearn to connect with their past.
FamilySearch and Ancestry are 2 well-known genealogy sites, and there are others that are geared toward specific populations, such as African, European, Jewish, and Native American. Some sites are free, and others require payment—it’s definitely a good idea to start with the free sites and then upgrade to a paid option if you don’t find the information you’re looking for.
And then there’s genealogical DNA testing, if you want to get really specific! Because even if you know where you’re from, DNA testing can show you specifics about your ethnic mix and geographical region of origin. Many people who do DNA testing are surprised to find that while the majority of their DNA shows they’re from x region, there are small percentages that contain results from totally different ethnicities!
DNA testing is easy and typically involves sending away for a kit. The simplest kits just require that you swab the inside of your cheek or get a sample of saliva. You then send it to a lab to get tested, and get results anywhere between 2-8 weeks (it depends on the testing company you choose - and there are plenty of DNA testing kits to choose from).
My Heritage and LivingDNA are 2 companies that are reputable in this field. MyHeritage offers a DNA test kit along with family tree services; Living DNA offers a test kit that can show your ethnic heritage going back about 10 generations!
Prepare for Your Tour with DNA Testing
If you’re planning on doing a family heritage tour, it can only be enhanced if you do DNA testing before. This way you can know almost exactly where to go, and you can know which areas to explore. For example, if you’re from Central Germany and your DNA test kit says that you have some Scottish genes, boy can you have fun with that!
Fun Celebrity Surprises
If you feel certain about your ethnicity and background and think that searching your ancestry won’t tell you anything you don’t know, think again. Scottish journalist Craig Williams recently reported that https://inews.co.uk/culture/kim-kardashian-is-descended-from-the-first-king-of-scots-investigator-discovers/ —and he discovered this through performing ancestral research of her mother, Kris Jenner. We always knew she was the queen of reality television, but now it turns out she actually does have royal roots!
There’s also the show “Who Do You Think You Are?,” which is all about celebrities tracing their family trees—it’s probably so popular because it combines two beloved interests: celebrities and family history. The show first aired on the BBC and was followed by a successful American version, which is currently on the verge of its 12th season.
In a 2017 episode of the British version, actor Danny Dyer found out that he is a descendant of King Edward III; genealogists, however, took issue with this discovery, stating that many Brits are descendants of kings because there was such a small genetic pool at that time. The same might be said for Kardashian, but these discoveries never stop being fun!
Family Heritage Tours Help You Live Your Past
You don’t need to be a descendant of royalty or a celebrity to explore your family history. All you need is a desire to connect with your ancestors and the will to make it happen. You can do this through family heritage tours, which can be enhanced after you’ve done your research on ancestry sites and genealogical DNA testing. While the latter 2 reveal your ethnic mix and where you’re from, only a family heritage tour can give you a true emotional experience of connecting with your past—and that’s something you can’t get from research and labs.