Let Your Heritage Lead You To Travel Destinations

Source: 123rf
Image ID : 35177538
Copyright : Borislav Marinic

 

Though I thoroughly enjoy international travel for a multitude of reasons, the most meaningful trips I have taken have admittedly been the ones I took in an effort to learn about my ancestral roots.  The first time I went on a heritage trip was in September of 2014, exactly six months after I had ordered genotype testing through 23andme.  Despite the fact that I already pretty much knew the bulk of my heritage (Japanese and Hungarian), I was even more determined to visit Japan and Hungary after I received the test results.  It took me a full six years to visit Japan, but I was able to do so in March of this year, and made a point of visiting both prefectures which my grandparents were from.

Source: 123rf
Image ID : 8705805
Copyright: ginasanders Budapest, castle hill and castle. city view

 

It turns out that my determination to visit my ancestral countries, occurred right at the beginning of the surge in heritage travel which has swept the globe.  One of the driving forces behind this boost in travel to ancestral lands has been the popularity of genetic testing kits such as the ones offered by 23andme. From personal experience, I can definitely tell you that a trip which is taken in an effort to learn about one’s heritage is definitely different from a trip which is taken for vacation purposes.

Source: 123rf
Image ID : 121655857
Copyright : pitinan
Beautiful morning at Yasaka Pagoda and Sannen Zaka Street in summer, Kyoto, Japan. Yasaka Pagoda is the famous landmark and travel attraction of Kyoto.

 

Thanks to AirBnB, people can stay in dwellings which are more reflective of the culture which they are visiting, and thus more authentic and rich.  According to AirBnB, there has been a 500% increase since 2014 in travelers who use the AirBnB service to book accommodations and experiences.  Close to 80% of these trips are taken either with one travel partner or alone, which suggests that these treks are indeed meant to establish connection with mother cultures.

It’s no surprise that AirBnB and 23andme have joined forces and are offering services specific to heritage travel on their websites.  On 23andMe, customers who receive new ancestry reports, are now able to click through to their ancestral populations and find Airbnb Homes and Experiences in their countries of origin. Correspondingly,  Airbnb has dedicated pages which correspond with 23andMe’s genetic populations, making it a breeze for customers to book accommodations in the countries which emerge on their reports.

If you’re thinking of booking a heritage trip but are hesitant, take it from someone who has not only visited her two main countries of origin, but who has also visited the other countries (Italy, Greece, Germany, France) which had popped up on the genetic testing report, and just GO.

Being Spontaneous Is Good For The Soul

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Most people who know me well would describe me as pretty organized and on top of things. I am also so busy all the time that I honestly have to put everything in my calendar so that I know what is happening. As a result of having so much on my plate, I am rarely able to make last minute plans. I often give people the impression that I am all work and no play, and that I am always serious.

But I am a spunky one and thrive on variety. Though I like consistency and stability, I am always keen on new adventures, and much like a horse in a corral, I go a bit stir crazy when I am cooped up in a place or a situation for too long. As a result, the spontaneous part of me sometimes takes over, and I will do something out of character. I honestly wish I had more of a chance to do something on a moment’s notice, but I am a grownup, with a career and some pretty big goals which require my focus and attention.

Every once in a while, I have to contend with last minute schedule changes which usually make me feel anxious. It is pretty challenging for me to have to completely rearrange my schedule when one event shifts, because a domino effect occurs. However, I have been more adaptable in recent weeks, and have even found myself changing things up without having a compulsion to resist the changes. Instead of rushing home after work to do even more work, I have recently allowed myself to visit friends, lounge on the sofa with a cat or two, or take myself out to dinner after a particularly long day.

I also love finding a gap in my schedule and throwing a weekend getaway into the mix, because it enables me to recharge my batteries, escape the rhythm of my regular schedule, and have a little fun. There is also a part of me which yearns for international travel, so much so that I am willing to move everything around to accommodate a visit to another country. My attitude is that life is short, and that you only live once. I have no intention of waiting until the “perfect” time to travel or take a vacation, especially since I was stuck in that mindset for far too long during my 20’s and 30’s. If I can visit a different country ever year or so, I will be a happy camper.

Who knows, you might see me visiting a new country very soon!

List Of Countries On My Dream List

Here is a list of countries I have not yet visited which I would love to visit at some point. I am excited to see what countries I actually will end up visiting!

Hammock
Argentina

Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Brazil

Costa Rica
Czech Republic (Czechia)

Egypt

Fiji
Finland

Jamaica
Japan

Kenya

Maldives

Nepal
New Zealand
Norway

Peru
Portugal

Spain
Sweden

Thailand

Virgin Islands (United States)

Travel Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

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Traveling abroad is a wonderful way to break out of established patterns and comfort zones, become exposed to new cultures, and press the spiritual reset button. I have always been interested in doing more international travel, but because of financial and time constraints, the extent of my visits to other countries has been confined to Mexico and parts of Europe. I don’t feel challenged culturally when I visit Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Sacramento, Columbus or Chicago, because the primary language is still English, and American customs are relatively consistent around the country. When I return home from any of these places, I don’t feel a shift in my perspective like I did when I visited Europe.

I will be traveling to Europe, Australia and Indonesia within the next two months and am exhilarated and somewhat terrified. What will I encounter in these places? What kinds of people will I meet? What will I learn about myself? Even the process of gathering information on my upcoming trips to Hungary, Sydney, and Bali is causing my life’s perspective to shift. I have mostly been focusing on the trip to Hungary since it is scheduled a month before the other two locations, and have been making a concerted effort to learn the Hungarian language before I arrive there. In my efforts to learn Hungarian, I have experienced a shift in my cerebral cortex which not only helps me with the language, but to also think like a Hungarian, at least to a certain extent. When I practice the speaking drills, I imagine being in the middle of Budapest, having to ask for directions, struggling with a very difficult language to make my thoughts understood.

In addition to the language barrier, I have no idea how to navigate through Budapest and imagine that I will need to learn the public transportation system or take a taxi to certain areas, while backpacking and walking through other areas. This will be an adventure unlike any other I have experienced. Things I am incredibly reliant on like clean food sources and a gym will be somewhat hit or miss when I am out there. I know I will feel a bit like I got drop kicked into a very unfamiliar territory, and I know I will be well outside my comfort zone during the trip.

Some of the greatest breakthroughs have come from challenging existing patterns. Perhaps I will have an epiphany while in a foreign land, trying to find my way and struggling with a language which I am rather unfamiliar with. I am certainly up for the challenge and the adventure. It has been far too long since i have thrown myself out into the big wide world, at risk of stumbling over every little thing. It certainly doesn’t help that my brain is more like a stone than a sponge when it comes to learning languages now. However, I have made a concerted effort to learn Hungarian. At least I can say things like “szeretnék valamit enni” (I would like something to eat) while in Hungary and hopefully understand the response I will get to that statement.

I am excited for the adventures ahead and fully expect them to influence how I view the life I have built for myself. It’s always good to shake things up a bit!