Category: Genealogy travel

Cemetery tourism in India

I went through a goth-like phase in my late teens / early twenties and visited a few cemeteries. And some are considered tourist attractions by the mainstream, like a couple I’ve mentioned on this blog:

Rome: excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica

The Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Vienna

Paris: Pere LeChaise cemetery

I think the Vienna one is the only one I wrote myself and I don’t even remember writing it so maybe not. Anyway, I mention these old articles because of this new one on India promoting cemetery tourism. They don’t seem to have the celebrity thing to attract tourists so they are going for the genealogical traveler:

According to the Bacsa website, there are some 2 million Europeans buried on the Indian subcontinent alone. “Cemetery tourism is becoming more popular in India. With more information online, people are finding they have ancestors buried in India and want to see their graves,” said Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, chowkidar editor and honorary secretary of Bacsa, recently to a website.

San Francisco hostels, happy travel story, sad travel stories

Before I forget (I’ve been meaning to blog this one for months), I’ll start with a link to this article on hostels in San Francisco, a city that’s pretty high on my list. I hear it isn’t cheap so I’d certainly consider staying in a hostel – the article is generally positive.

Then this article reminded me of my uncle’s situation. He was born in Germany and adopted in America. He recently used the internet (sorry but I forget the site) to find that he had a brother living in Florida and a sister living in Germany. He’s already planning some sort of motorcycle trip with his brother and he’s planning to meet his sister one of these days. I find it just an awesome, happy story.

I don’t think I have any immediate relatives to meet, but I would love to find some distant relatives in Ireland (my maternal grandmother’s heritage).

Now we turn to the sad travel stories.

Here’s a couple who were kind of screwed by a resort on their honeymoon but who (if the travel agency can be believed) screwed themselves a bit too. They couldn’t get the villa they booked, got put in a filthy one, and then instead of letting the hotel people clean it (or they could have paid extra for a hotel) they flew home.

Now I understand that on your honeymoon everything is supposed to go smoothly. And you’re supposed to get upgraded, not downgraded. But I don’t understand flying home the next day.

Here’s an article about travel scammers who call up and say you’ve won a free prize (like a cruise) but then ask you to pay too much in port fees or whatever. They actually got $750,000 from a lady with Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t know what to say about that – it’s disgusting and more. Anyway they seem to get a lot of people so be wary.

And to wrap up the sad stories we return to a major theme from the summer, China and Tibet. According to this article the Chinese government is being preemptive in stopping any possible protests by declaring (unofficially perhaps) martial law in some areas.

I have to admit I had forgotten about China’s treatment of Tibet (and other human rights abuses like the cover ups of kidnapping an HBO documentary exposed) and would have entertained the idea of returning to China for another trip if I hadn’t seen this article.

Genealogy inspired travel

I liked this article where the author talks about how she travels in order to research family history. I guess I had always imagined having the research done first and then going to wherever mainly to see the place, not really to do more research. This author seems to do research on location as she travels.

Genealogy travel experiences

A very brief article here with 3 short genealogy travel experiences.

A few people have left comments on this blog about how rewarding their genealogy travel has been so it’s something I’d like to do in Italy, Germany, and Ireland where my ancestors mostly come from. At this point it’s just a wish – I haven’t actually done anything to make it happen. I did actually ask my mom to collect some family history information, which she did. I put it in a folder and never looked at it… I should do something about that.

News articles that remind me of old blog entries (flying with kids and genealogy concierge)

I’m going to try to keep you busy with a few links today because I’m busy watching a stray dog my wife and I rescued the other day. We just brought it home from the vet and there are a few issues (not house trained, not getting along real well with our dog) so things are pretty exciting in my house…

First, an article on flying with babies, an issue we’ve covered before.

Second, an article on a Scotland hotel with a service like the one in Ireland I blogged about a few days ago. Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa in Edinburgh has a new Genealogy Concierge service.

For people with Irish ancestors visiting Ireland

I thought this article was interesting, probably because I had an Irish grandmother. The Shelbourne hotel in Dublin is offering an interesting service where you sit down for tea with a genealogist about where your family came from. The cost is a bit high at 140 Euros for a one hour chat, but it’s still pretty interesting.

Genealogy Travel: The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati

I think it’s important to acknowledge history as you travel. When I travel outside the US I want to learn something about the country I’m traveling in. When I’m in the US I often forget to keep learning, but this article on the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati reminded me how important it is to travel and learn at the same time even if this destination is said to be emotionally disturbing:

The Freedom Center’s second-floor hall is a place of both strong images and quiet reflection. The towering presence of an authentic slave pen, moved from a farm in nearby Kentucky, elicits a stark, emotional response that is softened by the beauty of the surrounding original artwork, created by such artists as Carolyn Mazloomi, Michael Cummings, and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. The exhibits about the slave trade, the American Civil War, and the failure of Reconstruction are disturbing and weighty…

The museum also has a Family Search Center with librarians helping people with ancestral searches through various genealogy databases (U.S. censuses, Social Security death indexes, ships’ manifests, and Ellis Island rosters).

I think our National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is going near the top of my list of places to visit.

Family vacation idea: ancestral travel

This article covers several things related to family vacations and family reunions. Everyone could meet up for a cruise, go to Disney, or rent a villa. The most interesting to me was the ancestral travel idea where families go to wherever their ancestors are from and see their roots:

Do your research – consult with relatives to create a family tree and then confer with a genealogical tour operator for help in locating your ancestral home. Once you identify the village or town, take a scouting trip to meet a relative or close contact before bringing the whole family over.

Arrange a tour and special activities like a picnic or cooking class, something that represents your heritage. Make the “roots” visit the highlight of the itinerary but plan other excursions around it. Use it as an opportunity to see the country, not just the village.

I actually did a search for genealogical tour operator and didn’t find much. That’s not really surprising since once you know where you’re going, any travel agent or tour operator should be able to help you. I’ve done a little research by asking family members for information. I’m not sure if I ever learned the Irish, German, and Italian towns where I have roots. If you need a professional’s help there are a few web sites at the bottom of this genealogy travel blog entry from a while ago.

People have to cancel vacation plans as family members suffer

I probably shouldn’t even post this because I’m afraid that things are going to get very political, but let’s just remember that violence in the Middle East prevents people from visiting family on vacation:

“I was supposed to go to Lebanon for the first time in my entire life. It was my dream,” says eight-year old Olivia Abdallah.

She and her family were supposed to visit relatives this week in Beirut. But, her dream destination just may be the most volatile place on earth this week.

The family she was hoping to meet for the first time is caught in the middle–and can’t be reached by phone. And, the airport they were supposed to fly into has been badly damaged.

Ask her father why the violence erupted, and he’ll tell you it’s: “Dumb people, people that don’t know how to work for peace.”

I have a Jewish friend who likes to visit Israel often, but she has cancelled trips several times due to outbreaks of worse violence than usual.

I don’t want to point fingers at either side, I just want to remember that people over there are suffering. In turn, people who live with us and have family there also suffer.

As always, you may leave comments, but I may decide to moderate them more heavily than usual. Keep the comments clean and if you’re not sure, don’t comment.

By the way, this reminds me of an old blog entry, travel to the West Bank. I have very little information about traveling to Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon on this blog. If you have some you’d like to share with everyone, please email

Combining travel and genealogy

The Wichita Eagle goes over several must-see vacation destinations including the Pyramids, paragliding over the Alps, 1st class on an Air France flight, and also talks about genealogy travel:

Tom, a public relations expert from Connecticut, says that his favorite travel moments come from combining travel and genealogy. “It’s impossible to put into words what these experiences are like, but there’s an exhilaration that you’ll never experience from simply reading about your family history. It brings travel to a uniquely personal level, and it helps forge a real sense of connection with your past.”

Tom’s best memories are of exploring the English-Scottish borderlands where his clan originated more than seven hundred years ago, and standing in Carlisle Cathedral in England where his great-great-great-great grandparents eloped in the early 1800s. He then located their graves in an abandoned churchyard on the coast of Maine where they survived a shipwreck upon their arrival in the U.S. in 1819.

That is a unique, meaningful travel experience. For me, genealogy travel could include Ireland, Italy, and Germany. I guess I’m worried about arriving somewhere with no real research plan, not knowing genealogical sources for Americans. I suppose the way to go would be to have a genealogist complete the research for you before you ever leave for America and then create a travel plan based on that research.

I found that has a free trial, but I haven’t tried it yet. They do Ireland (plus England and Scotland). OneGreatFamily also has a free trial and their website looks very professional.