Cinque Terre, Italy

DNA Tourism a New Trend? Not Exactly

Recently NBC had an article on their website called, “Why DNA tourism may be the big travel trend of 2019.”  They begin the article with, “These are your cousins.  You will probably spend the night with them,” but this can be misleading when discussing DNA tourism.

The article discusses how the increased DNA testing at companies like Ancestry, 23 & Me, My Heritage, and Family Tree DNA may be leading the test takers to explore their DNA roots by visiting the countries of their ethnicity reports.  They imply that by simply taking the DNA test you will get answers as to where exactly your family originated.

“[T]hanks to the availability of DNA testing it’s easier than ever before to actually trace that family tree”

This is not exactly true. What they failed to mention was the amount of work it would take to locate a many times great grandparent’s grave in a foreign country.  DNA can support your hard, time consuming research, but it cannot replace it.  It still takes a lot of research to trace your ancestors back in time to their original countries, something DNA cannot do for you.

To begin with, the ethnicity results of the various DNA testing companies are proprietary guesstimates based upon the people in the individual company’s databases coupled with family trees the test takers have on their websites.  Why do you think Ancestry encourages you to connect your DNA results to a family tree?  This is so they can compare your DNA results with the research you have done and give the ethnicity results based on the millions of DNA testers and their family trees.

Shaky leaf problems

Many of you have discovered how family trees on the various sites, such as Ancestry, can be not only wrong, but completely wrong.  People will simply click on the shaky leaf and add the recommendation as fact without reviewing it, and many times it will add facts that are years outside the life of the ancestor. [See post, “Parents should NOT have to be born after their children.”] These mistakes also complicate the migration patterns of our ancestors, one of the key elements of the ethnicity reports.

Only through thorough research and documentation can you really know where your family comes from. DNA can only support that research, not provide you answers as to who your family is, or where they came from.

Still not a bad idea

The idea of DNA tourism is not a waste of time, if you know in advance what you are looking for. That only comes from hard research of your familial lines that trace your ancestors to a specific region or town.