Skip the beach and trade in your next trip for an ancestry travel adventure.

Trust us, it’s a thing, and it’s gaining in popularity with sites and services all over the internet dedicated to helping you discover your family lineage.

If you’ve ever wanted to know the name of your great-great-great-great-great-grandmother or see the boyhood home of your wealthy aristocrat great-uncle (twice removed), now’s the time.

Be a DNA detective

If you’re not sure where to begin, popular DNA testing services like 23andMe or can help you get started. A small swab of DNA is all it takes to send you on a whirlwind adventure to track down your ancestors from 50, 100 or even 500 years ago. Explore the branches of your family tree by finding new or forgotten relatives on both your mother’s and father’s sides of the family. Or, traverse the globe assembling the halves of the whole that make you, you.

What’s in a name?

Not ready to splurge on a genealogy service or simply can’t part with your DNA? No worries. Your last name can get you pretty far all on its own. The last name Smith, for example, is believed to date back as far as 975 to a north-east region of England that is now Durham. Spring break in Durham, anyone?

Start with your name and see where that gets you, but also branch out and search using your mother’s maiden name or even your paternal grandmother’s maiden name. You very well may find that your ancestors crossed through Ellis Island or landed in the New World aboard the Mayflower.

Hit the books

A library may not make everyone’s Top 10 travel list, but for some the thought of spending hours poring over books, records and documents assembling their family tree is a dream come true. The National Archives in Washington, D.C., the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, or The Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Ind., are all great places to start. The American Family Immigration History Center at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration also can provide a wide array of information whether you visit in-person or online. 

Back to where it all began

After all that research, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get started on your ancestry travel journey. Before taking off, consider hopping on a tour to get the most out of your genealogical journey.

Those looking to explore their ancestry in Europe have plenty of options for guided tours and travel experiences. Try Ancestry for tours in Ireland, Scotland, Germany or Italy. PolishOrigins offers tours exclusively for those looking to delve into their roots in Poland.

Those with roots in the Jewish faith also can take advantage of some unique heritage tours. Jewish Heritage Travel, a program designed by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, offers opportunities to learn more about the many intersections of Jewish culture around the globe, whether your lineage traces all the way back to Ancient Petra or to the Sephardic Jews of Portugal.

If you’re looking for something a bit more customizable, a travel agency can help you plan your individualized heritage travel tour. Some, like Your Travel Service in South Carolina, even offer DNA- or ancestry-specific travel options.

Ready to trace your roots?