Thinking about your next travel adventure? Have you ever considered taking a trip based on what a DNA test tells you about yourself? Find tips and tricks to plan your next epic adventure below!
Have you ever really thought about, “where do I come from?”. Those of you who have followed me for a while might know I’m a bit of a genealogy buff. It’s become one of my favorite hobbies. Travel happens to be another, and so it made sense that they would cross paths. A few years ago, I started leaning towards travel adventures based on DNA.
Earlier this summer, 23 & Me hosted a contest in which a person could win a trip based on their DNA. Since I’ve been doing this personally, I thought I’d share my own personal experience in how a DNA test could influence your travels. Over the years I’ve discovered there are 3 levels when it comes to this.
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Travel adventures when you just know your ethnicity percentage
The first time I went to Germany in 2012, I had not done DNA testing. I knew from a paper trail that one set of my Great Great Grandparents had originally come from Prussia/Germany. They were immigrants, and my paper trail dried up there. I can remember riding on the trains, watching the farmlands go by and thinking, “Is this it? Am I near?”. I felt such an incredible connection and was sad that I didn’t have a specific area.
When I first tested my father at 23 & Me and saw the 17.8% French/German estimate I was ecstatic. I finally had more concrete proof that yes, I was on the right track. If anything, this spurred me on more. Since testing my father, I’ve found connections with cousins and now have a small farming town in Germany for my Great Great Grandfather, and a fishing town off the coast for my Great Great Grandmother. They are now on my list of stops for the next trip to Germany!
It turns out I’m Scandinavian as well. I have not figured this part out at all, either through DNA matches or through a paper trail. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed traveling around Norway and getting to know the people and the fjords.
Travel adventures when your paper trail matches your DNA matches
One of the most fulfilling parts of DNA testing is when your research pairs up with DNA matches that also have the same paper trail. If you can see from the picture above, my dad has 41.9% British and Irish based on his 23 & Me test. A few years ago, I had traveled to Illinois to do some local research for one of his lines. While doing it, I hit the jackpot with records from the Daughters of the American Revolution and some other incredible researchers. Once I was able to find his connection to this well-researched line, it was like a whole new world opened up. Well, at least Scotland did!
The first time I traveled to Scotland, I fell in love. I had no idea of my connection. I still today put Scotland as one of my top 5 places in the world to visit. When I realized I had this Scottish line, I decided this must be one reason I’m so passionate about the country. I was able to return this summer, and it added such a fun twist to be able to look specifically for tourist trinkets from my own Clan! There is something really neat about feeling such a connection to the spot you are visiting.
Right after my visit my youngest son had a history project to do on a family member that had immigrated to the United States. We decided to do his 9x’s Great Grandfather. In researching him, we discovered he had been held prisoner at the Canongate Tolbooth prison in Edinburgh. Imagine my surprise when I remembered taking a photo of that very building during our ghost walk. I liked the architecture, but had no idea of its significance in my family history!
Travel adventures where you actually meet your DNA connections
One of the best parts of DNA testing is learning about cousins you had no idea about! Meeting them is incredible, and meeting them in a country overseas is priceless. My mother’s father was born in England. We ventured to the small British village, and in a pub, we all connected. In so many ways.
We all have the same married couple in our pedigree. Earlier in the day, we visited the cemetery where this couple is laid to rest. The pub? Well, that’s another great story. In the beginning of the century, it was a “bowling club”. My mother’s great uncle (her grandmother’s brother) was a member there. He spent quite a bit of time there before he left to fight in France in WW1. It was amazing to be able to spend time in a spot where we knew family members had walked and lived their lives.
Sadly, like so many other young men at the time, my Great Grandmother’s brother did not come home. To make our trip full circle, we visited the battlefield in France where he lost his life.
Nothing prepares you to see a name on a wall and know that connection you share. Nothing prepares you for the humbleness you will feel when you see that name times thousands and know other families have shared that grief.
Sometimes genealogical travel adventures can be bittersweet like that. I love to visit historical sites all around the world, but when you have an actual connection, it just makes that visit seem so much more surreal.
There are other reasons to test your DNA besides having it guide future travels.
Reasons to test your DNA with 23 &ME:
- Your ethnicity results will give you a general sense of where you come from
- DNA matching allows you to make connections with relatives from the past, as well as those who are alive now.
- DNA can help break down genealogical brick walls.
- With DNA testing, you can find the answers to family questions and other family lore.
- By expanding the database, you are helping those who may not know anything about the family they come from.
- 23 & Me offers heath reports, including genetic health risk reports.
Get started now! GET YOUR DNA TEST KIT FROM 23 & ME (simply click here).
I hope you enjoyed my tips on how in-depth DNA can make your travels, or how it can simply add another spot on the map to visit. Have you ever tested your DNA? Have you taken a trip based on your family tree? I’d love to hear about it, so drop me a comment.
If you have more questions about DNA, you might find this article helpful:
Want to hear about more of my travels? Find more of my travel adventures HERE.