Heritage Travel Tips

Last week my friend Susan created a new group on Facebook, Heritage Travel for Genealogists. I am super excited about this group because it opens up a new area of discussion for genealogists that normally happen on their FB Pages (which leaves us no way to search for the information at a future date).

DearMyrtle posted that it would be useful to know about a few aspects of planning a heritage travel trip. Here are my replies to those items:


Weather is a very important part of any travel we plan. I recommend googling the average weather for the time you are planning your trip. For example, I was planning my trip to Ireland for the end of October through the beginning of November. By googling the information I learned that the weather can vary from about 30 – 65 degrees and should be rainy.


Packing:Cat in suitcase

Clothes – Once you know what the expected weather is, it will make packing your clothes easier. Some things I made sure we had because of the rain: hiking boots, water resistant coats (got to love NorthFace), umbrellas. For the possible cold weather, we packed heavy sweaters, jeans, enough socks that we could wear two pairs if too cold, and other clothes that can be layered.

Electronics – Lets be real, we live in a world where everything has to be at our hands, all the time. When I vacation not only do I bring my phone and camera, I bring my laptop and my Ipad. I know it’s a lot. But, it’s just how it is. So when packing these things make sure you have the correct chargers for each of them. One day I plan to get a small case that will just hold these cords. They get so tangled in whatever I normally have them in.

With going overseas we also needed converters to be able to charge our electronics. We purchased two that could be used in multiple countries and they worked well, once we figured them out. Most of the hotels in Ireland (that we stayed in) had units in the room that were already converted to the US.

Medicines – It’s obvious that you need to bring whatever medicine that is prescribed by your doctor, but I always make sure to bring allergy medicine, Sudafed (24 hour relief, for said allergies) and something for heartburn. These are a staple no matter where I travel.

Travel Documents – Obviously you will need your state ID, but when traveling out of the country you will need a passport (and maybe a visa, check into that before you go).  I make a photocopy of these to bring with, and to leave a set at home, you never know what will happen. These go in your carry on, you will need to have access to them.

Reservation Information – I normally create a spreadsheet with all of our reservations, this will include where we will be, the addresses and phone #’s, as well as our reservation #’s. If you do not do this, it is important to print out each confirmation! Especially if you fly overnight. There is no way to be 100% you will get sleep on the flight and you could be a bit loopy when you arrive at your destination.

Exchange Rates:

I will be honest here, we did not do much research on this. My neighbors are Irish immigrants so we just asked. We went to our bank and they advised us what to do. So take some time and look into this.

Cell Phone Fees:

Traveling international can be expensive when it comes to your cell phone. Many of us carry a smart phone and once you turn that on you might incur roaming fees, and they can be astronomical. For our trip we added an international data package to one of the phones. We paid $120 for a month of international access, which gave us phone and text usage, plus a small amount of data. It was not enough, we needed to add it to the second phone as well. One thing I will caution everyone to is this, make sure the carrier only charges you for the one month. Ours went on for many months, it took a lot to get the credits we were due. 
For our next trip I will be looking into getting a sim card from where ever we are traveling too so that will pay less for the internet and be able to make calls locally.

Public Wifi:

Free wifi is great, but don’t depend on it. At the hotels we stayed at, we rarely had any problems. But out and about during the day is not the same. I had a lot of trouble just trying to pick up the signal. 

If you are looking to make contact back home, I suggest using Facetime of some other free video software (like Skype or Google Hangouts). We used this our first night to talk to one of the kids in the US.

Car Rental:

Ask those who have visited before you. We were told not to get a car in Dublin, we did not listen. In the future, we will not get a car in Dublin. The streets all go one way, and it’s not the way you want to go. It took us forever to get where we wanted to go. 

Keep in mind if you will be driving on the other side of the road and the other side of the car. Are you prepared to do that? If not, forego the car and look into public transportation. 

This is where we had a major mess up in our travel. I found us a great rate on a rental car through our Marriott’s card. I booked the car and made no notations because I had an email confirmation. An email confirmation which I could not get to because I had no flippen internet! We went to the car rental place and they could not find our reservation so they gave us the “best” they had. It was a fine car, but not as big as we wanted and not a manual transmission. 

Three days later while on the hotels wifi I found my email, we were at the right counter but with the wrong company. Thankfully it was not a prepaid vehicle and we were not charged for it. 

One other thing to keep in mind is this, you need to know about the roads you are traveling. Will there be mountains? How rough is the terrain? Though we wanted a manual car, we were thankful we did not get it. If we did, we would not have seen some of the sites because of how steep the mountains were.

International Driver’s License Required?

Great question. AAA can assist you with getting an international drivers license if you need it. The cost is currently $20 and is valid for a year. You can find their form and who honors the driver’s license on the AAA website

I hope some of this information will help you while you plan your next heritage trip.




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