If your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents came from another country other than where you live now and you have any inclination to visit that country, start saving your money and get busy planning! It can be an incredible opportunity to take a look at historical events, family, and traditions from a unique angle and give you a new perspective on your family history.
All of my great-grandparents are from Hungary so our family ties to Hungarian language and tradition run pretty deep. Yet, even so, we did not know we had relatives still living in Hungary because that important piece of information was not passed down the family line. Sadly, those things happen. It wasn’t until the relatives in Hungary started looking for us based on details found in old letters that the connection was re-established! While a few years have been lost due to a lack of communication, those who are in conversation now are having a great time getting to know one another together despite the language challenges.
The moral of this story? There is no time like the present to start asking questions of your elders to get information from them about your ancestors! But even if you only know that your family line came from a certain country, start planning your trip! While there are certain advantages to knowing and visiting the town or village your ancestors have come from, it isn’t essential to having a wonderful experience. There is a certain magic to just being in the country of your ancestors and nothing like stepping foot on “home base”. You may find yourself returning multiple times.
Exploring a country on your own has a certain level of excitement and adventure but isn’t for everyone. Even if you like the freedom of traveling at your own pace don’t discount the benefits of traveling with a small tour group because you will get a great overview of the country when you have a knowledgeable guide. If there is a language barrier or time or budget restraints, a small tour package may be just the way to go!
Whether you go on your own or with a group, here are some things that might help your trip to be more enjoyable:
- Travel with a family member! Sharing a trip like this with a parent, sibling, spouse, or cousin can strengthen family bonds.
- If the country you visit is not an English speaking one, invest a little time learning some helpful travel phrases before you go.
- Spend time researching the history of the country you are visiting.
- Take the time to journal your thoughts and experiences as you plan your trip and as you travel. You might be surprised at the variety of emotions and questions that swirl around in your mind before, during, and after your adventure.
- Take along a camera and take a lot of photos.
- If you plan to connect with relatives, don’t expect everyone to bond immediately—you may or may not know the family history, hardships, and dynamics. Set your expectations low and be pleasantly surprised if you are welcomed with open arms!
- Don’t plan every moment. Allow some days to develop organically!
Elizabeth Szabó Vos is the owner of Magyar Marketing, a second-generation family business that provides opportunities to connect with Hungary and Hungarian food and culture. Join us on one of our affordable, family-sized tours and see what makes Hungary such a wonderful destination! For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org and like us on Facebook @Magyar.Marketing.
January 6, 2017