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5 Steps to Planning Your Genealogical Journey

Updated on September 3, 2019

Today, you can easily find your ancestors and find out what your great-great-grandmother’s profession was - you can do this without leaving your room. But many dream to know how their ancestors lived, what kind of apples their grandmother loved, and see what the life of their relatives was like.

Are you imagining visiting places where your distant relatives lived: their city or even home. Easy! Make your dreams come true - just follow these tips.

Step 1. Collect information

The first step is the most difficult: you need to collect all the information, organize it, highlighting particular cities and regions. The easiest way to do this is to hire a genealogist, or by using the sites: Familypedia,, Genealogybank.

If you learned that your family tree begins in another country, do not get upset - finding relatives abroad is not a big problem. State archives of all countries provide all information for free but note that all requests should be submitted in the local language, so you might need the help of a translator.

Do not forget that your surname (or the surname of your relatives) may be quite common in the region or country where your ancestors lived. Try contacting prospective relatives, for example, via Facebook or VK (if you are heading to Eastern European countries), and also check online telephone databases: Infobel or Phonebook of the World.

If you have difficulty collecting information, you can use a Virtuoso consultant.

Step 2. Plan your trip in advance

Documents, visas, tickets, passport, vaccinations, things you need for travel, itinerary - your head will spin if you do not get prepared in advance. Therefore, plan a trip at least 3 months beforehand to avoid the rush.

Ask yourself “What do I want from this trip?”, then explore local sights, plan a route (write down what archives and places you want to visit), schedule meetings with people so that no little thing could make your trip pointless. And do not forget - you need at least one free day: anything can happen on a trip - you can meet a long-lost cousin and spend the whole evening with them, or get stuck in the library longer than planned.

Not to forget anything important, print or save notes in apps: Evernote, OneNote, Bear.

Step 3. Learn everything about the destination

Use the Internet to find out everything about the area or country you are going to visit. Study local sites, check if you need to change currency, and also read about local laws.

Check the websites of libraries or archives you are going to visit as some of them may let visitors in only by appointment. And read their rules — some documents are not allowed to be copied or are issued only upon prior request.

In addition, not in all countries, people speak English well, so download online translators: Google Translate, TranslateAll, Offline Translate, iTranslate.

If you are afraid of getting lost in an unfamiliar area, download these maps:, Kakaomap, Google map.

Step 4. Book everything in advance

You can book tickets and hotel in advance. You can compare flight ticket prices and choose a suitable option with the help of such services as KAYAK and FareCompare. On SkyScanner and Airfare Watchdog, you can activate notifications about cheap flight tickets.

You can find a hotel on, rent an apartment on Airbnb, and if you are a budget-traveler, use Couchsurfing.

Another service which may be useful is Kiwitaxi. Use it to book a transfer from an airport. By the way, Kiwitaxi hires locals to work as drivers so they will be able to tell a lot about the place.

Step 5. Pack everything you need

The best option is to start packing a few weeks beforehand. So, you will understand whether you have all the essentials: a durable suitcase, comfortable shoes and clothing, medicine and other personal items.

Do not take all the books and documents with you - it is best to have them in a digital format, not to carry heavy things. Do not forget that you need to leave room for gifts and souvenirs.

At last, check the baggage allowance rules in the country or area you are traveling to.


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    • profile image

      Maria St 

      6 months ago

      Thank you, I wish I could to find out my family tree. Guess, I have a mixed blood.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      7 months ago from UK

      Tracing family trees has become very popular. TV programmes in which celebrities trace their genealogy and visit areas from which their family came are very popular in the UK.


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