Have you ever wondered what life was like in the land of your ancestors? Maybe you’ve read books and seen pictures of your homeland. But now, you want to experience the community and culture for yourself — through some heritage travel exploration.You’re not alone. More and more people are traveling with the purpose of exploring their heritage, with Airbnb seeing a 500% increase in guests traveling for this reason. This type of travel is not only trendy but valuable — to both the traveler and the local economy that hosts them.
What Exactly Is Heritage Travel?
More people are turning to their family tree for travel inspiration. This is especially true as travel becomes cheaper and the popularity of tracing ancestry through genetic testing increases. Heritage travel allows you to experience various places, artifacts or activities you’ve only previously heard of in stories passed down through generations. Specifically, heritage tourism allows travelers to build a personal connection with a region’s community and culture. People can venture back to their roots and learn about the traditions and history that influenced their family — and that may still influence them today.If seeking the full heritage travel experience, tourists will encounter three different kinds of sites — built, cultural and natural. Built heritage sites like monuments and historic homes structures are what normally comes to mind when thinking of educational travel. Cultural heritage sites include activities like festivals and traditional markets. Lastly, natural heritage sites include scenery and other elements that are not man-made.
Why Should You Try Heritage Travel?
The increasing pace and nature of the modern world leaves many people feeling disconnected and unsure of their identity. Heritage travel can be an important step in self-discovery and re-connecting with a more intentional life. Learning about one’s family traditions can offer a sense of community, pride, purpose and increased quality of life. As an added benefit, heritage travel is fun, too!Besides the personal benefits, participating in heritage tourism is a great way to give back to the communities that shaped you and your family. By spending money in the land of your roots, you boost the local economy by:
- Supporting small businesses and local residents.
- Increasing demand to create new jobs, events and attractions which helps diversify the community.
- Offering funds to maintain heritage sites and preserve local traditions.
- Raising awareness of the area’s significance.
Tips to Maximize Your Next Heritage Tourism Experience
If you want to reap the maximum benefit from your heritage trip, consider the tips outlined below:
- Learn before you leave home. Rather than becoming an expert in your ancestry before traveling, you want to have a deeper appreciation for your ancestors’ culture before entering it. An Internet search, along with genealogy tools like ancestry.com or genetic testing insights, can be a great starting point.
- Enter with humility. The culture you experience as a tourist is the same one many people live every day. Try to learn about your shared traditions without immediately drawing comparisons.
- Leave no trace. Respect the built, natural and cultural sites you visit to ensure others have the opportunity to experience their heritage too.
- Book local and buy local. The best way to learn about a culture is to mingle with its people. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, avoid the fancy hotels and commonly-visited tourist attractions. Pick local inns and sites frequented by residents instead. Who knows – you might end up being hosted by a long-lost relative or eating a dish that taste surprisingly like the ones your mom used to make.
Perhaps you’re excited about heritage travel but find the idea of planning a custom trip on your own undesirable. Travel agencies and booking sites like Airbnb provide assistance when prepping for your heritage vacation. If you’re seeking a more general vacation to the land of your ancestors, there are tours you can book that will help.
Let Your Family History Inspire You- Remember, you don’t have to travel across the world to connect with your heritage – sometimes connecting with your family’s past is as simple as visiting a local museum or taking a class to learn traditional art. Let your family tree inspire you when planning your next vacation. You may find yourself learning more about a new continent — or somewhere just down the road.
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