What if you could walk across the same land your great-grandmother once traversed 80 years later? You may have never even met your great-grandmother, but chances are you can easily trace her origins back to Germany or Ireland with a quick browse on the web. Today, websites such as Ancestry and 23andMe make discovering your ancestry more accessible than ever before, which means finding the land of your ancestors is only a click away, too.
So, you’ve spit into a test tube, sent out your DNA, and received the much-anticipated results you’ve always dreamed of discovering. Regardless of your method of discovery, you’ve now uncovered the land of your ancestors and predecessors— which makes now the perfect time to put those Ancestry DNA results to use.
Heritage trips are transforming into the top travel trend across the globe. Whether you have an unrelenting itch to get out and explore or aren’t quite sure where to voyage with your family for your upcoming summer vacation, a trip to the land of your ancestors may just provide you with the sense of discovery you need.
The Growing Fascination with Geology and Heritage Travel
The desire to connect to our roots is more than just a passing interest reserved to select few. What was once a mere niche has now transformed into a $1.6 billion industry, making genealogy the second favorite hobby and pastime of Americans scattered throughout the country.
While the growing fascination and interest of this activity are evident in the revenue generated by the genealogy industry alone, the question remains as to what had sparked this intense interest in heritage exploration in the first place. In short, from a mere curiosity about their origins to the desire to validate family stories, knowing where you come from can be a significantly impactful and satisfying event.
Still not convinced heritage travel is the right choice for travelers and avid vacationers alike? Check out our list of the top four reasons why you should voyage to a country connected to your heritage or cultural roots below.
Forming a Greater Understanding of Your Family (& Meet New Relatives!)
Your abuelita always stresses the importance of making homemade tamales and empanadas as a family, but do you truly understand why? Traveling to the country where your parents, grandparents, and ancestors grew up offers a life-changing amount of insight into the different values and customs experienced by your predecessors.
Second generation English immigrant David Moss recounts how visiting his mother’s birthplace in India helped strengthen his connection to his family while increasing his appreciation for this aspect of his identity as well. His mother would always fondly recount the good memories she made in her homeland and now he was finally able to connect to this aspect of his mother’s cherished recollections as well.
Traveling overseas can help you connect with family members you haven’t even met yet, too. You may have heard of your distant cousins from your aunt’s side in Germany, so why not meet them instead of crafting their identity from mere stories without a real sense of meaning and attachment?
Traveling to land connected to your ancestry offers more significant levels of insight that allows you to better connect with all family members — both old and new.
Knowing Who You Are by Knowing Where You’re From
Where you come from constitutes a large percentage of who you truly are. The way you act and think about life in inevitably impacted by your mom and dad, who were likely influenced by their parents as well. If you go back far enough in your lineage, you’ll find that a portion of your everyday thoughts, beliefs, customary practices, and actions all stem from a group of individuals you may feel removed from in a faraway land.
One of the top ways to connect to your ethnic identity is by visiting your family’s country of origin to gain a better understanding of the cultural surroundings that helped define your lineage and family tree. When you retrace the footsteps of the people who helped shape your identity, you can better understand the stories and people of the past which define a considerable portion of what makes you who you are today.
Keeping Your Culture Alive
Your parents may feel a sense of connection to their cultural heritage, but what about you? If you feel removed from the rolling hills of Ireland that your mom fondly recounts at family dinners, chances are your children will feel just as detached from their heritage and ethnic identity as you. Traveling to the land of your ancestors helps to keep your cultural roots alive for future generations by igniting a newfound sense of interest in the land that defines your family tree.
You won’t have to recount stories passed down from generation to generation — you’ll be able to create and craft your own sense of meaning in your heritage that inspires future generations to embark on the same journey of cultural exploration.
Exploring a Culture with a Newfound Sense of Meaning
Heritage travel is more than just a vacation. While a quick trip to your local beach provides a day full of sunny relaxation, a trip to your great-grandparents’ birthplace runs can be much more profound. Watching the sloths swing through the trees in Costa Rica would take on a whole new layer of meaning if you knew your great-great-grandparents once lived amongst those jungles just one century ago.
Baby boomers lead this trend and are beginning to tag their children and grandchildren along in this movement towards ancestry exploration as well. Why now? In an age where traveling across seas and to new continents is easy, people desire a more in-depth and inspiring experience that helps enrich their lives.
It’s always fun to explore a new culture and open your insights towards the world in a more meaningful way, but when you reach out to a land with cultural ties that helped shape who you are as a person, that newfound layer of significance offers a greater sense of value that is guaranteed to stay. Have you experienced heritage travel? What were your takeaways? Let us know in the comment section below!
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, Tripping.com and more! Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts.
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