Sunday, April 28, 2019

What It’s Like to Use a DNA Test Kit to Travel Through Your Family Tree

In recent years, DNA testing has become big business beyond just the saliva kits your relatives gift each other around the holidays. Ancestry travel options like genealogy tours through European homelands are turning even non-travelers into DNA tourists with the help of those tests. Following a DNA test, a genealogist or tour operator could take you along the same roads your ancestors walked—sometimes even to the very homes they lived in or the places of worship they frequented. If you’re interested in traveling back in time through your own family’s ancestry, you’ll need some expert help.

With plenty of kits and tours to choose from, how do you choose the right combination of ancestry DNA testing and trusted genealogy expert?

DNA test results still aren’t perfect, and often depend upon the database yours are being compared to, which means you’ll want a testing company with a large database behind it: AncestryDNA and 23andMe are generally the most popular options.

Primarily aimed at wellness-focused DNA inquiries, 23andMe provides insight into your health and the likelihood you could develop a genetic disease—but also offers a simpler, ancestry-only DNA kit. For travelers, AncestryDNA can be connected to online family trees that allow you to search public records based on names, locations, and birth dates; this gives it an advantage for starting your own genealogy search into U.S. records.

Overseas record searches, however, usually require the help of a seasoned genealogist who understands the record types, languages, and research logistics of the specific region. It’s also worth noting that there are legitimate privacy concerns about large DNA databases. Both 23andMe and AncestryDNA, however, provide options that aim to keep personal data private from third parties.

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