Genealogy Travel vs Heritage Travel

Genealogy Travel vs Heritage Travel

Genealogy Travel vs Heritage Travel

Genealogy travel vs. Heritage travel. Isn’t it all just Ancestral Travel?? Yes and no. The main difference in Genealogy and Heritage Travel is basically the intention behind your travels.

Genealogy Travel is becoming more and more popular for theme travel. With the advancement of home testing DNA kits through companies like or 23&, people can pinpoint where their ancestors came from. Let me be your guide to Genealogy Travel to the Celtic Nations of the British Isles.

For many people living in the States, our ancestry began in the Celtic Nations and British Isles. The Celts migrated to the British Isles and Ireland before the Iron Age. Although, some tribes were forced to flee Central Europe by the Roman Empire centuries later.

Celtic Nations, also known as the Celtic Fringe, consists of seven countries. Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall (county in England), Isle of Man, Brittany in France, and Galicia in Spain. However, there is some debate about Galicia since they no longer speak the Celtic language.

Finding a Connection to the Past

With online databases like Family Search and Find My Past, finding those connections to the past are becoming easier. For some, the longing to see where their ancestors lived can be such a primeval need to connect. Genealogy or Heritage Travel can bring you closer to connection.

 Having moved around so much, I never felt a connection to anywhere or any one group of people. I got conflicting stories about my family roots. The need to find those people I never got the chance to know grew. I had to find that connection. And the first time I stepped foot in Scotland, I knew I was home.

We all have a desire to feel connected to a group of people or an area we live in. Ancestral travel can help you find a connection to the past that can help you find a connection to the present. Knowing and understanding the history of our ancestors can help us to make those deep connections.

Genealogy Travel

Genealogy Travel – Or Ancestral Travel – Taking a vacation to your ancestor’s homeland with the purpose of visiting National Archives, libraries, churches, and cemeteries to find more information about your relatives.

You might be looking specifically for an address you found in a census where your relative lived. Or you might be looking for where the family farm used to be. Maybe you want to meet newly found cousins aunts, or uncles.

After exhausting all your research in the States for relatives immigrating from the British Isles, it’s time to plan that trip to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, or England. England was Celtic pre-Roman times called Britons. During the occupation, these Celts sailed to Brittany in France and Galicia in Spain, or just assimilated into the culture of Britain.

Maybe you can’t travel at the moment, maybe you want to hire a Professional Genealogist to assist in your search. There are ways to hire one in the country you are researching. Click here to read more about hiring a professional.

Research the Repository & it’s Holdings online

Most archives will have an online website that will tell you what you should do before coming to the archive or repository.

  1. Contact the archive or library first to see what their hours and restrictions are for researching.
  2. Check the visiting hours and parking situation.
  3. Ask if there is a limit on the material you can research at a time.
  4. Check to see if they have restrictions on what you can and cannot bring with you.
  5. Ask if they have internet access.
  6. Research online what materials they have housed there.
  7. Pay someone to assist if it is too far away.

Emailing the Repository before you visit, especially if you are contacting archives in the British Isles. Ask your questions about who you will be researching and for any particulars about the facility.

Most facilities will require you to bring identification to sign in and fill out “call slips.” Those are a request for certain collections.

Don’t bring food, drinks or chew gum. Be respectful for the records you research. Bring a pencil, paper, or notebook to make citations.

Ask if they permit the use of computers, phones, cameras, or personal scanners. Be mindful when handling documents. Ask if they require gloves.

Prioritize your requests. You may use more time allowed on certain documents so choose the most important for this trip.

What is the policy for visiting?

If you are able, do not wear big, bulky clothes. Believe it or not, some people have taken documents they were not allowed to. One bad apple makes it worse for the rest. They may search you when you come and go. Be respectful.

Know the Terminology
  1. Transcribing is making an exact, word-for-word copy of the record.
  2. Abstract is a summary of the most important details. But remember, these are the author’s idea of what is the most important details.
Citing the Sources

It is so important that you cite your sources thoroughly. Answer the Who, What, How, Where, and When for your sources.

  1. Who does this record relate to?
  2. What kind of record is this?
  3. How can I find it again?
  4. Where did I get this record?
  5. When was the document created?

Be as thorough as you can. You may have questions later and find this information helpful if you need to call the archive to ask more questions. The person helping you will thank you.

Libraries and Governmental Facilities

These places are a bit more lax when it comes to what you can bring in. And like before, call the place to see what their policy is about bringing certain things in.

Create a mobile research office. If you do a lot of research, you probably have a mobile office setup already. Traveling overseas might limit what you bring with you. Even if you cannot bring these items to the archive, you will have them to work on what you found that day.

These are probably the most important items to bring with you or have once your research is done.

  1. Laptop
  2. Charger
  3. Pen & Paper
  4. Notebook
  5. Mobile device
  6. Charging & Power cables
  7. USB Flash drives
  8. Digital Voice Recorder
  9. Headphones
  10. Scanner (Flip Pal Mobile Scanner)

After researching and preparing to go to the Archives, it’s now time to spend a few hours looking for those long-lost relatives. But remember to get outside to look for buildings your relatives frequented. It’s Scotland or Ireland for goodness sakes, get out and see what there is to see.


National Archives – – Legal, Historical, and Genealogy Records. If you have not been to the National Archives before, please consult Plan Your Visit or the FAQ. Visitors are requested to bring with them: 1) Photographic identification and 2) Proof of address.

National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin 8, Ireland 08 DF85 Phone: + 353 (0)1 407 2300

General Register Office – Historic Records of the following can be viewed on

Births 1864 – 1919, Marriages 1845 – 1944, Deaths 1878 – 1969
Two types of searches may be undertaken at the genealogical/family history research facility: specific search covering a maximum of 5 years for a fee of €5, a general search covering any number of years for a fee of €20 per day. The fee for a copy of an entry from the records is €5. Should you wish to apply for birth, death, marriage, adoption, civil partnership, and stillbirth certificates click here.

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media provide online access to indexes and register pages for genealogy purposes on

National Library –

National Library of Ireland
7-8 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 P638
Telephone: +353 (0)1 603 0200   Email:
(For enquiries about our collections, opening hours, and admission procedures. )

Genealogy/Family History
National Library of Ireland
7-8 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 P638
Telephone: +353 (0)1 603 0256   Email:
(For enquiries about our resources and services for family history)

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) –

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
2 Titanic Boulevard

General Register of Northern Ireland (GRONI)


The National Records of Scotland – Civil registration, census, demography and statistics, family history & historical records.
Telephone: 0131 314 4411 – Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm
Find out about call charges

National Records of Scotland
New Register House
3 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 3YT

National Archives of Scotland – On 1 April 2011, the NAS merged with the General Register Office for Scotland to become the National Records of Scotland (NRS). For enquiries please go to contact section of the National Records of Scotland website.

Since 1 October 2014 the information on the National Archives of Scotland website has not been updated. For more up to date information on doing research, learning and record keeping, including Freedom of Information and the Public Records (Scotland) Act, please go to the National Records of Scotland website.

Scotland’s People Center in Edinburgh – National Records of Scotland

HM General Register House – 2 Princess Street, Edinburgh EHI 3YY UK +44 131 535 1314

Wales & Cornwall

University of South Wales – University of South Wales
CF37 1DL, Pontypridd, Telephone: 03455 76 01 01 – Contains a list of repositories throughout Wales.

The National Library of Wales – Penglais Road, Aberystwyth, SY23 3BU, UK, Contains maps, newspapers, and journals.

General Registry Office – P.O. Box 2, Southport PR8 2JD, +44 0300 123 1837, Birth, Marriage, Death and civil partnerships as well as still births and adoptions for England and Wales.

The Courtney Library – Royal Institute of Cornwall, River Street, Truro, England TR1 2SJ, +44 01872 242 786, – Records, Archives, and Cornish History

Kresen  Kernow – Little Vauxhall, Redruth, Cornwall TRI5 1AS, +44 01209 614430

Isle of Man

Isle of Man Family Heritage Society – Derby Lodge, Derby Road, Peel, IM5 1HH,

IOM Public Record Office – Unit 40a, Spring Valley Industrial Estate, Douglas, Isle of Man IM2 2QS, +44 01624 693 569, Open – Thursdays 9:30am to 1:00pm, 2:00pm to 5:00pm, Fridays – 9:30am to 1:00pm, 2:00pm to 4:30pm, Must book in advance.

Manx National Heritage Library –, Email:, +44 01624 648 047, Kingwood Grove, Douglas IM1 3LY, Isle of Man

After the Archivery is Over

  1. A wee dram. If you are in Scotland, Ireland or anywhere overseas, it is best to begin with a bit of good whisky. Just do not drink too much before organizing what you brought back.
  2. Organize what you brought back. Label everything.
  3. Scan paper files and make copies. Organize digital files.
  4. Send a thank you card to the people who helped you.
  5. Compare notes to other records.
  6. Organize pictures. Touch up photos.
  7. Then pat yourself on the back. You did great today. Good job. Now go find your relatives home where they lived or where they worked. Or just go find a place to eat and connect with the locals.

When planning your itinerary schedule your time in the archives and libraries but limit it to a few hours a day or maybe one or two days while you are in Ireland or the UK. Then go out and enjoy what the country has to offer.

Have a Plan B in case something happens? Like, I don’t know, a pandemic? Or some other unforeseen circumstance occurs? The weather changes frequently in the British Isles so layer up and carry an umbrella.

It’s just good to be prepared for anything that might happen. If all else fails, you can always sit in a pub and enjoy some local music or attend a ceilidh. (That’s a fancy Gaelic word for a party. They are quite delightful.)

Heritage Travel

Heritage Travel – A vacation you take in the homeland of your ancestors to learn more about the culture. You visit to get a sense of history, the culture, and the foods.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Heritage Travel is “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic, and natural resources.”

There are different ways to experience Heritage Travel such as:
  • Studying abroad – immerse yourself in the culture while going to school.
  • Volunteer abroad – a vacation to volunteer in your homeland can be extremely fulfilling.
  • Intern for a new career.
  • Become a teacher.
  • Taking a Family Tree Tour in the country of your ancestors.
Ancestral Heritage Tour Groups

Maybe you don’t want to hire a Genealogist or plan your own trip. How about taking a Heritage Tour? They can help you plan your trip with a tour to your homeland. They can also help you with planning an itinerary for a self-driven tour. There are a lot of variations full guided tour, hybrid tours and self-guided tours.

Heritage tours can consist of one day up to seven days or more.

  1. Historical Tours – Mary Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce are a few.
  2. Castle and Ruin Tours
  3. Whisky and Eating Tours
  4. Archaeology Tours
  5. Battlefields and Memorials

Take a few of these tours to get a feel for what there is to do in the Celtic Nations. There is so much to do in Scotland, Ireland, and the UK. Traveling can be expensive but whether you are traveling to research genealogy or just wanting to immerse yourself in the highlands, include as many of these things as you can.

Hybrid Ancestral Tours

A hybrid tour is a combination of a guided tour for a pre-determined number of days and then staying longer at your destination to explore the region on your own. If you have the time and the money, this option might be a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Self-Guided Tours Heritage Travel

Self-guided tours are exactly that, self-guided. If you enjoy creating your own itinerary and researching must see places, then this is the trip for you. I love creating my own itineraries and finding out of the way places. I’m not a huge fan of tourist places but I’ve visited my share.

Final Words

Ancestral travel is exciting. There is nothing like finding that uncle that has been your brick wall for years. Searching for records in the archives or libraries is different than online research. It’s great to get out and dig through records.

Remember to balance out research with exploring the country of your ancestors. For many this is the trip of a lifetime. Cherish every moment. Document everything to share with family members even if they are not interested now. There will be that one person in your family willing to take up the mantle when it’s time.

So is there a difference between Ancestral Travel and Heritage Travel? It just depends on what your intentions are for your trip. You can look for a specific relative or maybe you are just interested in seeing where your ancestors lived. There is no right or wrong when it comes to Ancestral Travel. Thanks for reading this. Let me know what you think. Travel freely. Slànte Mhath!

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