Laptop with stumbling stone in Prague
Heritage Travel

How To Include Virtual Heritage Travel in Your Genealogy Research

Virtual heritage travel can be a vital part of your genealogy research plan. Learn how to travel virtually and the resources available.

Grab your family history notes, and let’s take a trip!

A trip where your ancestors lived. Walk where they walked, and see what they saw. No plane tickets required. ✈

We’re going virtual.

Why Virtual Heritage Travel?

Why should we include virtual travel in our genealogy research plans?

Two words: Social History.

Understanding the cultural, political and economic circumstances surrounding our ancestors helps us as researchers and family historians to find our ancestors and connect with them at a deeper level.

So what does a virtual heritage trip look like?

Your virtual trip can be anything you want it to be. Each one is unique to your research. It could be:

  • A walk through a museum to learn about an ancestor’s customs and way of life
  • A walk down the streets that your ancestors walked every day to gain a perspective on their daily movements.
  • An opportunity to talk with the locals and get their perspective. Yes, virtual heritage travel even allows us to connect with locals on the ground to learn more about the culture.
Laptop and map on desk. Black text reading Virtual Heritage Travel! Part of your Family History
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Walk Where Your Ancestors Walked

Let’s take a walk through the streets where your ancestors walked using Google Maps. That street view on Google Maps allows you to “walk” down the street and see what our ancestors saw. Perhaps we walk by the synagogue that they attended weekly. Perhaps we walk along the coastline, and see the sea that they saw every day before heading out to go on their fishing trips. Perhaps we even walking by the home where they used to live.

All of that is possible by taking a virtual walk through Google Maps.

If you want to learn a little more as you take that virtual walk, join a Virtual Walking Tour. This could be a small group, or it could be a more personal or individual type of walking tour. And yes, that can be done quite well in a virtual setting.

Now one of the best things about taking a virtual walking tour that is live with a guide is being able to connect personally with that guide. He/she is typically a local who understands the culture and history of the area. The tour allows you to gain insight into what your ancestor may have been experiencing as you listen to their stories and ask your questions.

When I had the opportunity to tour the Jewish Quarter of Prague, which is one of my bucket list cities to visit, I jumped at it.

Stumbling stone in Prague.
Tour Guide Pointing Out a Stumbling Stone in Prague.

Even virtually, I could hear the sounds of the city, see the sights an ancestor saw, and walk across the river an ancestor may have walked across. I was even able to ask on the spot questions of our guide. From a research perspective, getting a sense of distance and proximity of housing to things such as houses of worship, and shopping really adds an understanding and a depth to that ancestor.

Learn more about my virtual walking of Prague in How To Walk Where Your Ancestors Walked: Take a Walking Heritage Tour!

Visit a Museum (or 2!)

Many museums have collections online that we can view. So explore the museums in the areas where your ancestors lived. You will want to explore museums that are focused on a specific culture or ethnic heritage to learn more about your ancestors way of life as well.

The Irish immigration Museum in Dublin is one such museum. You can literally walk through the exhibits, look at the exhibits and learn about the Irish culture from your home office. Virtual exploration is an excellent way to visit wonderful museums in areas where you might not be able to visit in person, but absolutely have information and history that would help you with your research.

Take a Virtual Heritage Class

A unique and creative way to explore the culture of your ancestor is to take a virtual class. For example, you could have the opportunity to experience a particular part of your heritage by creating a specific dish.

Companies such as Airbnb Experiences or Roads Scholars offer the ability to take a virtual class, such as a cooking class or a dancing class from a local of the area. Not only do you have the opportunity to learn a new skill or something about your culture and heritage, you will have the opportunity to talk to the host live to ask questions and learn their perspective.

I find it imperative that we (I) include virtual heritage travel in our genealogy research. There’s really is no excuse not to, because it can be done easily and relatively inexpensively (if not free) right from our laptops.

Learn more about adding heritage travel and creating your own genealogy research plan to learn more about your ancestors in this video:

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  • Hazel Thornton

    This is terrific, Lisa! I’ve visited the homes and neighborhoods of my ancestors on Google Maps Street View, and I’ve visited museums virtually, too. But I never thought to add local walking tours and cultural courses to the mix!

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