Feb 24

Thoughts on traveling to explore ancestry



A powerful motivator for travel that is often most present among a segment of the U.S. population is the desire to discover a town of ancestral history. Many Americans often are not interiorly satisfied with their current citizenship and often find ways to distinguish among themselves by talking about ancestry and heritage even their family line may have been in the U.S. for generations, one will still hear people claim they are Scottish, Irish, Italian and the like.


Beyond the various social questions and inferiority complexes this trend signifies, I’m more interested in talking about how it motivates people to travel. In conversations with people, especially those of retirement age or just before this factor seems to be the highest motivation, less so with millenials and younger backpackers.


The research giant Ancestry.com estimates 87% of the U.S. Population wants to do some genealogical research, this ranges from computer searches to in the field exploration. From my perspective I don’t really see the point of using ancestry as a travel motivator. My place in history isn’t defined by where my genes originated, I’m sure my bloodline is full of crooks, saints, scammers and thinkers, but the moments I have to live and the world as it exists in this moment is mine to explore. Any details about my heritage or facts as they might become known to me I find, interesting, but no more interesting than reading an almanac or book of records.


On the grand scale I think that traveling is an enlightening experience for anyone, but what attitude one brings to the trip says a lot about the impact it will have. I think having ancestors from a particular town might bring one to a new and exciting place, but going just because your family once lived there, people whom you’ve likely never met, seems like a setup for disappointment. In short, travel should come with expectations, but not too many, it is good to have a hunger for new experiences. Travel to the places you want to define your life, places you want to be part of your own history.




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