Heritage tourism is
traveling to understand the cultures and places of the past—including those of
your ancestors. Here’s how to make heritage tourism the ultimate vacation!
One of the best ways to understand history—including your
family history—is to go to a place where you can relive it. This kind of travel
is called heritage tourism, or “traveling to experience the places, artifacts,
and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past
and present. It includes visitation to cultural, historic, and natural
Though many places offer heritage tours that you can pay for and join, you can also create a personalized heritage tour—and save some money—with just a little research and preparation. Here are some tips for creating a heritage tour that is customized to your personal history and heritage.
Tips for Creating Your Own Heritage Tour
Try finding the exact location of your ancestor’s home or property.
Look for street addresses in census records, civil or draft
registrations, vital records, correspondence, old family address books, and
Identify other places of interest associated with your ancestor’s life.
Study records about your family to find the names of
workplaces, churches, schools, cemeteries, or other landmarks. Locating and
visiting these places, if they still exist, may build your sense of connection
to your ancestors.
Visiting an ancestral grave can be an especially poignant
experience. You may be able to find the location of your ancestors’ graves
using this Find
a Grave Index.
Look for maps from your ancestors’ time period.
Compare these maps with Google Earth. See what has changed and what has not. Try to pinpoint the modern locations of sites that are key to your family’s history. Borders may have changed; so may have the names of streets and towns and even house numbers.
Make a list of traditional, authentic recipes you want to try.
Eat what your ancestors ate! Research what food was
available to your ancestors at the time they lived there. For example, what
local food was grown? What animals were raised? What spices did locals use?
Look up traditional recipes of the country and region, and be sure to try them
during your visit.
Read up on the history of the region.
Before you travel, research the
culture and history of your ancestral homeland, keeping in mind that this
history is part of your history. Make a list of historic sites and
museums to visit so that you have a better idea of what your ancestors’ may
Watch for industrial museums, mining or logging camps,
restored homes or villages, decommissioned military posts, or religious
landmarks. Don’t ignore the exhibits of small historical societies near your
ancestral home. These may have displays or artifacts especially relevant to
your family’s story. Some museums and historic sites even offer living history
or interactive experiences that more fully immerse you in the past.
Consider contacting a local history expert or someone associated with an ancestral place.
You may be able to schedule a tour or conversation with
someone while you are there. That person may even be able to connect you with
relatives who still live in the area.
Can’t make a personal visit? Try taking a virtual tour of your ancestor’s neighborhood or village.
If visiting your ancestral homeland isn’t possible, you can
also try to find an immigrant community or cultural heritage society near you
with the same ethnic roots. You may be able to visit ethnic neighborhoods,
churches, restaurants, festivals, or clubs where that heritage still thrives.
You don’t need to
travel to your ancestors’ homeland to connect with your heritage and learn more
about your family history. Right at home, you can discover your family story
through searching records, starting a family tree,
and exploring and preserving important family
memories.Create a Free FamilySearch Account
Source: Family Search