Genealogy Road Trip Tip 6: Pack research materials

Tip 6: Pack research materials. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Once you and your travel partner have made a Genealogy Road Trip plan, it’s time to pack research materials to take with you. These can be hard copies or electronic versions accessible through your laptop or hand-held devices — either are fine, as long as you can quickly refer to them while at your destination.

Pension Records
Bring must-have documents as hard copies. If electronic devices fail at your genealogy road trip destination, you will be glad you brought along copies of key research materials — such as these pension records for my paternal great, great grandfather Arthur Bull. Photo: Molly Charboneau

You don’t have to bring all of your research materials with you — just the ones pertaining to the ancestors you will be researching on this trip.

Here are a few tips on getting these materials ready before you hit the road:

Take your must-haves as hard copies. Print out a family group sheet for the ancestor(s) you will be researching onsite. Print out one pedigree chart covering the direct-line ancestor(s) who lived at your destination. Also pack a hard copy of your phone list and your research plan — including repository details, contact information and addresses. Photocopy pertinent documents from your files. Yes, paper is heavy — but when you are out and about doing research, you will be happy to have those hard copies if your device batteries fail, if there is no WiFi or if you want to jot down some notes.

Set up cloud copies of your materials. Think of all the possible documents you might need to refer to while on your genealogy road trip and make sure you have saved them in a cloud service such as Dropbox. Set up a genealogy road trip folder in advance and drag all the documents into it that you may need to look at while traveling — that way, you will only have to access one folder while on the road.

Make sure you have access to your family tree. Most genealogy software packages allow for viewing your family tree on your phone, tablet or computer — or all three. Test these before you go to be sure you will have access to your genealogy data at your destination.

Bring a few photos. My sister Amy and I made a family history visit to a farm where our family and maternal grandparents once lived. We explained to the current owners that we were on a nostalgia tour. But it was photos of us as children at the farm — thoughtfully packed by Amy, my travel partner — that convinced them we were for real. Bring copies of the photos to avoid damaging/misplacing the originals.

Don’t forget historic and cemetery maps. If you have hard copies, saved images or links to digitized historic maps of your destination, be sure you can access them on the road. The same is true of cemetery maps. You don’t want to spend precious time onsite hunting around for maps that could aid your research — so plan to pack what you need, either physically, on a device or in the cloud, for easy remote access.

Am I leaving anything out? If so, please let me know in the comments section.

Then join me tomorrow for the next Tip 7: Test and pack your gear. See you then!

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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