If you’ve ever spit into one of those little vials to see which country of origin your ancestors came from, you know the thrill of finding out the genealogy that makes up your DNA.
With sales of 23andMe and Ancestry kits skyrocketing, it seems like everyone is exploring their family’s past. Especially if a new county pops up that wasn’t on your radar before (turns out I’m 5% percent Spanish and Portuguese -- who knew? Not me!) the excitement of finding more about that piece of your personal puzzle is exhilarating.
Even more, it's making people want to visit the countries that their DNA says is a part of their ancestry.
Based on this new hunger for vacations based on scientific data, Lonely Planet has declared DNA travel one of the top travel trends for 2020. Once you have DNA results in hand, you can book a trip to one of the regions your ancestors hail from and possibly, with the right poking and digging, even meet long-lost relatives, or at least dive into your family’s history with the help of local records.
Or, you can work with a travel company to do some of the legwork for you. Airbnb has teamed up with 23andMe to offer customized travel experiences for DNA test-takers. After getting your results from 23andMe, you can click on a portal through their site to see available Airbnb properties right in the region your results came from. Or you can go to Airbnb and research the same region.
In the press release, 23andMe CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki said, “Working with Airbnb, a leader who is re-imagining travel, provides an exciting opportunity for our customers to connect with their heritage through deeply personal cultural and travel experiences.”
People clearly want to investigate their heritage, and they want it now. According to a 2019 Airbnb study, “89 percent of survey respondents in India have traveled to at least one country of their ancestry as well as 69 percent in France and over half of Americans.”
Likewise, EF has formed Heritage Tours in conjunction with Ancestry. Each trip comes with a DNA kit and individual time with a genealogist to go over your results. A genealogist will also tag along with your tour group to answer questions.
For an additional fee, your genealogist will even escort you to the specific village your family hails from. As of right now, the tours are focused on Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Italy, but if the trend is truly on the rise, that list is sure to expand.
Even if you don’t use a specific travel company, you can still explore locations on your own. On 23andMe, you can match with relatives who share DNA. If you strike up a relationship via email or text, a visit might be in order.
You can also contact local churches and universities to explore records (hiring a translator might be necessary if you don’t speak the language). If you hit the jackpot, you might find gravestones, former homesteads and landmarks where your family member may have visited, or even better, find that long-lost cousin that has just been waiting to be found.
All you need for your next great vacation, apparently, is a little bit of spit.