Category Archives: NaBloPoMo 2016

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.

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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Genealogy Road Trip Tip 1: Pick your destination

Tip 1: Pick your destination. Part of “Genealogy Road Trip Tips: Take Your Loved Ones With You” — 30 posts in 30 days for NaBloPoMo 2016.

Picking your destination may not seem like much of a Genealogy Road Trip Tip. After all, most folks choose a location for their vacation every year.

Aug. 1992: Looking west across Otter Lake. Dad and I didn't know it when this photo was taken, but a few miles beyond the tree line, as the crow flies, is where Moose River Settlement once stood -- home from 1875-1880 of my great, great grandparents Arthur and Mary Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Bull and their family. Photo by Molly Charboneau
Looking west across Otter Lake in Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. (1992). My first genealogy road trip was with my dad, Norm Charboneau, to his childhood home on Otter Lake. He shared stories from his youth, I saw his hometown for the first time, and we found church, cemetery and vital records for a number of our shared ancestors. Photo by Molly Charboneau

But these tips are geared toward bringing family or friends along on your genealogy journey.

And destination plays an important role in having your loved ones come away with a treasured family history experience.

With this goal in mind, here are a few things to consider when choosing a genealogy road trip destination:

Should you plan a local/domestic trip, or will you go abroad? This decision affects the cost and length of the trip as well as the type and amount of advance preparation needed.

In what location have you already done the most research? A trip abroad might be more frustrating than fruitful if you don’t yet know the town, region, county or parish your ancestors haled from. But you could gain a wealth of new knowledge on a local trip to a town where you have already documented your ancestors through census and other records.

Will research at the location yield new genealogy information? You want to pick a location where you are reasonably sure of making some research discoveries when you get there, so your travel partner(s) can share in the ancestral finds.

Does the location resonate with your family or friends? Whether it’s a journey to hallowed ground for a U.S. Civil War reenactment or a visit to an ancestor’s home town, the ideal destination should hold some special meaning for you and your travel partner(s).

And remember, a research destination is only one component of a successful genealogy road trip. Bonding with your loved ones during the journey there and back will also create lasting memories and make your road trip that much more worthwhile.

Please stop back for Tip 2: Find a Travel Partner

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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