Can’t Travel to Your Homeland…No Worries!

I think everyone in my household is now well and I am back. I do apologize for the long, delayed post. Not my intention to be gone so long, but in a household with a school aged child, when it rains, it pours! So, I have been thinking about this post, though, and looking forward to it.

As we, the consumers of all things genealogical, know there has been a BOOM in the DNA market since DNA companies expanded passed paternity and added ancestry to their products. More and more companies appear every day offering lower cost testing and more websites offering additional services for those DNA results pop up almost hourly, it seems. This boom has also increased the market for heritage (or as USA Today calls it “Genetic Tourism”) travel–traveling to the place of our history. Nancy Trejos, of USA Today, in an article from November 2017 titled “Genetic Tourism: Travelers take trips to explore their genealogy”, relays the story of a man who won a DNA test knowing he was Mexican; however, he later discovered that he wasn’t even half Mexican, but also Native American, European, African, and even Middle Eastern. The gentleman had won the test as apart of a contest to take him around the world to explore his genealogy. Trejos says that both DNA companies and travel companies are getting in on this new market. (To read more, see https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2017/11/03/travelers-take-trips-explore-their-genealogy/812008001/)

However, not everyone has the time or the money to fork over thousands of dollars to travel to each land of their heritage. I know I would love it. My adoptive mother is Swedish (though surprisingly, even though her father’s parents were both 100% Swedish, she only inherited 12% of his DNA), and I would relish the idea of being able to travel to Sweden, BUT I don’t have to fret. There’s always Google Earth! If you know your family’s hometown, just go to Google Earth and type it in the search engine. I did. My mother’s paternal grandparents were from Bjeresjö, Malmöhus, Sweden. I put that in the search bar and here is the first thing I got:

From here, I can zoom to street view and I can essentially walk the streets of Bjaresjo. There are arrows on the screen that will take you forward or backward. If you want to skip ahead a bit, you can double tap the arrow and zoom forward or backward. You can also turn right or left using your fingers to, for lack of a better word, twist the screen around and look around. This appears to be just a tiny village. I couldn’t really find a “city” to speak of, but here is what I looked at briefly.

Next, I thought I would check out the birthplace of my adopted father’s 4x great-grandfather, Ezekiel Young, who came from Bristol, England. Because Bristol is much larger, I had more options. If you have the option of 3D, like I did with Bristol, you are taken on a 360 degree trip around the city. Of course, if you are so lucky as to know an actual address, you could put that in and be taken directly to that address, if the address still exists. If you are able to open this video, it shows you what the 3D feature is like. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the video to post here.

https://vimeo.com/user92782771/review/321614068/4624750314

From here, I can, again, zoom to street view and virtually take a walking tour of Bristol. Sure, it isn’t as great as the real thing, but it gets really close; and, for those of us with little money and time, it is a wonderful compromise.

So, if you haven’t downloaded Google Earth…DO IT!! And get busy exploring!

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