Genealogy Road Trip Tip 7: Test and pack your gear

Tip 7: Test and pack your gear. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

We all travel with electronic equipment nowadays — cell phones, tablets, laptops, chargers. But a Genealogy Road Trip requires a bit of extra gear to help you capture your research findings and download them when you get back.

By: sean hobson

In addition, testing your equipment before you leave is vital to make sure everything functions as it should in the field.

Start with the basics

So what equipment will you need? Here’s a starter list, which you can add to depending on what you and your travel partner will be doing on your Genealogy Road Trip.

Cell phone. If you and/or you travel partner have a smartphone, load some apps that will help you on your trip. Everything from a scanning app to cemetery finders to maps and, of course, an app that will display your family tree. Plus a translation app if traveling abroad. Add phone numbers you will need at your destination — then test everything to be sure it all works before you go.

Selfie stick. Toss in an inexpensive selfie stick to snap memory-rich outdoor cell-phone photos of you and your travel partner at the destination (Spoiler alert: many repositories don’t allow selfie sticks inside.)

Tablet. A light-weight tablet with a built-in or detachable keyboard should serve you pretty well in the field. This, too, can be loaded with helpful apps — and the tablet camera may be better than your phone’s for shooting documents, photos and other items on the go. If WiFi will be dodgy at the location, add airtime to your tablet so you can go online as needed.

Laptop. While tablets are handy, the more robust capabilities of a laptop computer may be more helpful in a repository for downloading or entering data about your ancestors.

Digital camera and tripod. A nice, lightweight digital camera and tripod can be helpful. Sometimes a digital camera captures more detail than a cell phone or tablet photo. And digital cameras are nice for house photos and panoramic landscapes.

Chargers, chargers, chargers. Test and pack whatever you will need for all you devices — along with extra batteries for devices that use them!

Add in the extras

Portable scanner. For scanning documents on your trip, there are many lightweight hand-held scanners available that do the job nicely — either the wand variety or small, flatbed scanners that can stitch together a large document from its scanned parts. Test to be sure the device works with your computer so you can download items on your return.

Digital voice recorder. If you plan any oral history interviews, pick up a lightweight digital voice recorder. Do a mock interview and test it with your computer before you go. Be sure you can record; rewind and play; download an interview  and save it to your cloud storage. And bring along the instructions just in case.

Location-specific gear. A water sprayer can bring out the lettering on a tombstone without damaging it to enhance your photos. I love my Rite in the Rain notebook, with waterproof pages that let you take notes even in a downpour.

For a U.S. Civil War reenactment, I packed a shower curtain to spread on the ground — good thing, too, because it rained for three days before the event! Bug repellent, sunscreen, water bottles — check your plan and make a list of everything you and your travel partner might need on the trip.

What else, what else? Please add your favorite travel gear in the comments section.

Then join me for tomorrow’s Tip 8: Finalize travel arrangements.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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