Category Archives: Genealogy Road Trip Tips

Genealogy Road Trip Tip 4: Call ahead

Tip 4: Call ahead. 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(s) have set the date and destination for your genealogy road trip, it’s time to call ahead and let folks know you are coming.

Land line phone keypad. Establishing person-to-person contact by calling ahead can open doors at your genealogy road trip destination and set a positive tone for your visit. By: Andrew Malone

This may seem like an old school tip when so many interactions today are through social media , text and email — but there is still nothing like person-to-person contact to set a positive tone for your visit and open doors when you arrive at your destination.

Calling ahead is a great way of introducing yourself to those who may be able to help you with research and logistics during your family history trip.

Contact research repositories

First on your list to call should be offices, archives and other repositories you plan to visit at your destination. Check their hours of operation and procedures online — then make a quick call to double check that they will be open during your trip.

While you’re on the phone, ask if there is a librarian, archivist or office staff you should ask for when you arrive — they may even come to the phone. This gives you a chance to introduce yourself and let them know when you will be in their area.

Reach out to relatives and neighbors

You and your travel partner(s) may also want to reach out to any relatives who live at or near your destination. Do you want to do an oral history interview with an elderly relative? Might some of your extended family have documents, photographs or stories they would be willing to share with you? Calling ahead gives them time to be prepared — and to locate precious family history items.

And don’t forget about the neighbors. My oldest brother and I went on a family history road trip to visit our childhood home, which had been damaged by flood waters and was scheduled to be torn down. We called ahead and arranged to meet some of our former neighbors — children we had grown up with who were now adults like us, along with a couple of their moms — and had a wonderful time sharing stories and touring around our old block together.

Take your list with you

Above all, keep track of your calls — and be sure to pack your phone list and any notes when you gather materials for your genealogy road trip. You and your travel partner(s) will want to have ready access to the information at your destination.

Please stop back tomorrow for Tip 5: Make a plan

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Genealogy Road Trip Tip 3: Set your travel dates

Tip 3: Set your travel dates. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Mark your calendar. Once you have selected your destination, and your travel partner is on board, it’s time to get out the calendar and start circling possible dates for your genealogy road trip. By: Dafne Cholet

Now that you’ve selected your destination, and your travel partner is on board, it’s time to get out the calendar and start circling possible dates for your genealogy road trip.

Easy, right? Well, not necessarily. Here are some things to thinks about when scheduling your genealogy road trip.

What dates work best for you and your travel partner? Whether it’s a local, weekend trip or a longer journey to a distant destination, start scheduling your genealogy road trip by blocking out a few possible time frames with your travel partner — and far enough ahead to take advantage of savings on airfares and accommodations or to arrange vacation time from work.

When are records repositories open at your destination? You don’t want to arrive at your family history research location and find out the offices or archives you need to visit are closed because of a holiday or special summer hours. Or walk into a town office looking for vital records on the opening day for fishing license applications. (Yep, that once happened to me!)

What will the weather be like on your target dates? Spring and summer are nice times for genealogy road trips in some areas, but if your ancestors hale from south Florida or San Diego or sunny climes abroad, you might think about a winter trip to those destinations. Also consider scheduling around mosquitoes, black flies and other seasonal wildlife that could cut short outdoor activities like visiting an ancestral cemetery, home or school.

When is the tourist season at your destination? Traveling off-season can be cost effective and it will probably be easier to get around without the crowds of sightseers. Plus you are more likely to experience typical day-to-day life at your family history destination.

Will your road trip happen during a special event? Sometimes an event will set your dates for you. Perhaps your destination features an annual festival or parade, a centennial event or similar commemorative gathering. Check the location’s events calendar and consider planning your visit to coincide with a special event — one your ancestors may have attended or participated in decades or centuries before.

Setting your travel dates is a balancing act, but one that sets the stage for a productive genealogy road trip for you and your loved ones. Once you know when you’re going, you can begin your pre-trip preparations with your target date as the deadline.

Next up Tip 4: Call ahead

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Genealogy Road Trip Tip 2: Find a travel partner

Tip 2: Find a travel partner. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Finding a travel partner to join you on a genealogy road trip makes the journey that much more enjoyable. I know because I have traveled with family and friends on my heritage quest and have reaped the rewards of camaraderie and good feeling at trip’s end.

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Travel partners add so much to a genealogy road trip. My friend Jane Latour (left) traveled with me (right) to U.S. Civil War reeanctments of battles my Union Army ancestor fought in because of she shares my love of history. Photo: Molly Charboneau

“How do you get people to go with you?” a genealogy colleague asked me, when I described visiting a Union Army soldier’s grave with a group of friends. “I can never get anyone interested.”

Her question got me thinking about how and why my travel partners agreed to join me.

A focus on common heritage. My dad, Norm Charboneau, was my first genealogy road trip partner. Our destination was his home town — Otter Lake in Forestport, Oneida County, New York.

I wanted to learn more about where he grew up. He wanted to go back for a visit and serve as my tour guide. And we shared an interest in learning more about earlier generations of our family. So we both had a personal stake in the trip’s success, and had a great time in the process.

Reconnecting with relatives. My mom, Peg, was my travel partner on my second genealogy road trip to her hometown — Gloversville in Fulton County, New York. I wanted to see where she lived as a girl. She was interested in revisiting the homes where she and our ancestors’ had lived. And we both looked forward to visiting several relatives who still lived in town — many of whom Mom had not seen in years — to interview them about our ancestors.

A shared love of history. My friend Jane Latour, shown above, agreed to travel with me to Fredericksburg, Virginia — for reenactments of U.S. Civil War battles my Union Army ancestor fought in — because she shares my love of history.

I was thrilled to visit the hallowed ground where my ancestor fought. Jane, a labor historian,  was blown away by the hundreds of reenactors and history buffs who attended the event.

“I’ve been wondering where to find people who are interested in history — and here they are!” she exclaimed on the first day.

Each genealogy road trip will be different and each travel partner will have unique reasons for agreeing to join you. But the key is finding a shared interest that will sustain you both during the journey and — if you’re lucky — contribute to great stories about your adventure when you get back.

Have you had success traveling with family and friends on genealogy road trips? Share your story in the comment section.

Tomorrow, Tip 3: Set the date

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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