Heritage Travel & Why It’s Trending

Over the last three years, I’ve become more aware of trends among travel. There is slow travel, adventure travel, and as of late- heritage travel. But what is heritage travel and why has it become popular among celebrities and millennials alike?

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What is Heritage Travel?

Heritage travel consists of traveling to a certain place to discover the traditions, history, experiences, and culture of a region or its peoples. More specifically, it’s a way to connect with cultures- whether it is your own or not. But before traveling to a region to have said connection with a culture, people are starting to get their DNA tested to find out about their ancestry and where they came from.

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If you recall, back in 2006, Oprah Winfrey took a DNA test to find out more about her ancestry. I remember it was the first time I had heard about this kind of testing in order to discover what region or race a person was actually from. Winfrey speculated that she might have had some Zulu roots, a Southern African tribe and one of the biggest ethnic groups in Africa. Winfrey went on to take the test only to discover she had some Native American and Kpelle tribe ancestry, which she found surprising.

After Oprah revealed her ancestry, many other celebrities have followed suit. Some celebrities include Snoop Dog, Jimmy Kimmel, Tyra Banks, and Eva Longoria, to name a few. Technology has since come a long way since 2006 and it is now easier, more than ever, to find out about one’s own ancestral past. Sites like 23 and Me and Ancestry.com are popular online destinations when it comes to finding out about your own heritage. But why has it become popular in recent years?

Why It’s Trending

I was listening to a podcast yesterday featuring Mikella Mallozzi of Bare Feet, a PBS show that travels to different countries around the world featuring cultural dance. In the episode, Mallozzi talks about her immigrant Italian parents, growing up Italian, and visiting her grandparents in Italy as a child. However, when she took a DNA test and found out she had roots from the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, and Northwestern Europe- she was surprised. In the current season of her PBS show, she uses heritage travel to connect with these regions and cultures through dance. The podcast brought to light the popularity of heritage travel.

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One of the reasons I think this kind of travel has become popular is because people are now more aware of themselves than ever before. There is a current movement happening involving self-care, self- love, and defining identity- especially among millennials (myself included). We are asking the question Who am I? In the current state of the world, people are trying to find their own voice and knowing who you are is a big part of that. In order to do so, many are starting from the the beginning asking Where did I come from? I think people also want to feel connected to something, especially during these dark times.

All of this had me thinking about who I am, as well.

I want to find out more about my ancestry and heritage. I identify as Mexican-American, but I’m curious to see if there are any surprises in my DNA, so stay tuned as I share this journey.

Have you ever had your DNA tested in order to find out about who you are or where you’re from? If so, leave some comments below, I would love to hear about it!