Well Traveled – There are many ways to open the mind, broaden experience, and deepen feelings. One path to doing so is through traveling. Experiencing new places, ideas, foods, sites, smells, and cultures seems to have a profound effect upon us.

Not only the travel we take, but the places and reasons for visiting those places affects us as well and can reveal much about ourselves.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to your family’s journals and personal histories, you may discover wonderful details about family, personal, religious, political, or business trips that your ancestors undertook.

Reflect on the times that your ancestor lived in. Today, a trip to New Zealand or Hawaii can be as easy as hoping on a plane, but did you have an ancestor that made the trip 100 years ago on a crowded ship? Why did your ancestor make the trip? Did he or she go alone? What does the trip tell about the times he or she lived in? What was the specific mode of travel and how long did the trip take? If you have ancestors that fought in wars away from home, document the places that they were stationed. You might be surprised at how “well traveled” you ancestors were.

Your Travel – If you do not have access to much information about trips your ancestors took, try creating a log of the places you’ve visited, the reason why you visited each location, and what you did. Write down what you learned from each location. Perhaps you gained a new insight into what it means to be poor or to be rich. Perhaps you met a very friendly people and culture that impressed you.

Write about why you selected the place to visit. Perhaps you wanted to “get away” from it all, or you may have been going on a tour of historic locations.

Write it Down – Take a moment to jot down the places you’ve visited and what you gained from the experience, then start working your way through your family tree to discover places your ancestors have traveled. Jot down the ideas or even map them using Google Earth or Google Maps. Place copies of the pictures, if you have them, in the history to help make the locations come to life.

If you’ve every gone through pictures of your deceased ancestors of places that they’ve traveled but the pictures were not labeled in some way, it can be very difficult if not impossible to find out where the location of the picture was taken and the reason for the trip, so you can do your future generations a favor by jotting down where you traveled and including it with your pictures.

Putting it Together – There are many ways to gain insights into your ancestors’ lives. The amount of time an effort it takes to put together a major journey, the motivations, hopes and dreams related to the trip can reveal much about the person you are researching. Tying trips generations after generation can give you a window to the times and just how much travel has changed.