Imagine being able to create a travel itinerary as unique as your DNA. Not only is the concept trending this summer, it’s now easier than ever before thanks to some amazing resources at your fingertips.
According to Airbnb, there has been a 500% increase in travelers using the website to trace their roots since 2014. And the rise of at-home DNA testing kits such as 23andMe, which now has a database of more than 10 million people, may be contributing to the trend. If heritage travel is in your near future, the following tips will help you get started planning the ultimate personalized trip.
Take a DNA Test
Even if you’re pretty sure you know where your ancestors are from, taking a DNA test may reveal some surprises worth exploring. Going a step further, Airbnb and 23andMe recently formed a partnership to help travelers in their quest for the perfect heritage travel itinerary. It works like this: Send off your DNA sample to 23andMe. When you get your ancestry report back, you’ll also find Airbnb homes and experiences in your native countries. In addition, airbnb.com now provides information that correlates with 23andMe’s genetic populations.
But you don’t necessarily need to take a DNA test to personalize your heritage travel experience. Once you know the place of your roots, start researching ways to immerse yourself in the culture and customize your itinerary.
Bug Your Close Family Members
Set up a time to talk with your parents, grandparents and any other relatives you know well. Dedicate the time to asking questions about your ancestry and heritage, jot down notes that you can use to further your research.
Investigate Old Photographs
If your family keeps old albums accessible, take a closer look at the photos in ways you likely haven’t before. Search for street names, neighborhoods, monuments, etc., that may mean something to your family. Make a list of unique sights to see and things to do on your trip.
Food and Festivals
Beyond your family recipes passed down from generation to generation, the place of your ancestry has many unique flavors worth trying. Food is another amazing way to experience your heritage, so identify restaurants that specialize in traditional foods of the area. Cultural festivals are great, too, if you can line up your travel dates to partake in the celebrations.
Reach Out to Distant Relatives
If you’re brave enough, reach out to distant relatives that still call the area home. While this tip may not be for everyone (and it’s certainly not necessary to enjoy your heritage trip), taking the leap could reveal some amazing new connections. Plus, who better to show you around than locals? You may end up visiting them on a regular basis!