Evita Robinson, the founder of Nomadness Travel Tribe, an online social media group for travelers of color, said that there was noticeable uptick from 2017 to 2018 in its 21,000 or so members talking about home DNA tests and planning trips based on the results. Mr. Holder was among those members.
Ms. Robinson took a test last year that showed she is a mix of African-American and Caucasian and has roots in several countries, including Senegal, South Africa and Ireland. She is traveling to Ireland in May for her first DNA-based trip.
Although DNA-based travel can be poignant for anyone, it may even be more impactful for African-Americans, according to Dr. Gina Paige, the co-founder of AfricanAncestry.com, which specializes in genetic ancestry tracing for people of African descent. “Black people were taken from West and Central Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean, and as a result of that, our identity got lost,” she said. “There are virtually no paper records for us until 1870, which is when the U.S. government started taking census information from us, so trips to Africa to learn more about our roots are often revealing and profound.”
Ancestry is starting a travel division that will include group and private tours. The group portion is a collaboration with EF Go Ahead Tours on a series of trips to Italy, Scotland, Ireland and Germany; they are led by one of Ancestry’s genealogists and start at $3,500 for 11 days.
As part of the group tour package, travelers receive an Ancestry DNA test beforehand and consult with a genealogist who uses their test results, along with historical records, to educate them about their origins. On tour, they follow an itinerary that includes visits to sites heavy on heritage, such as emigration museums and ports where emigrants left for the United States.
Ancestry’s private tours start at $2,000 a day and are created based on a combination of DNA results and research on a client’s family history. “We look at a variety of data, including newspaper archives and church, military, marriage and death records,” said Kyle Betit, a genealogist who heads the company’s travel division. “The itineraries we create take people to the villages where their ancestors lived, and to the churches where they got married.”
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