Research Trip Packing List

By Family Tree Editors Premium

First, here’s what not to take along on your family history vacation: your original files, photos or documents. But do make room in your suitcase for these family history “road warrior” essentials:

  • Paper for note-taking (some archives don’t allow spiral-bound notebooks)
  • Pens, pencils and pencil sharpener or mechanical pencil with plenty of refills (pens are forbidden in many libraries, so always pack pencils, too)
  • Camera, flash, tripod and film; consider investing in a close-up lens for copying documents (ask permission before photographing in archives)
  • Maps
  • Change for photocopiers
  • Essential charts and lists of what information you want to find where
  • Self-addressed stamped envelopes to leave behind
  • File folders
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Magnifying glass

Other handy items to pack:

  • Insect repellent and umbrella if you plan to explore cemeteries and other outdoor sites
  • Rice paper and crayons for tombstone rubbings (again, ask permission)
  • Tape recorder for dictating notes or for taping an on-site translator
  • Video camcorder
  • Laptop computer with copies of your files
  • Handheld scanner
  • Gloves and trowel for clearing around tombstones, plus a plastic trash bag to kneel on
  • Business cards with your name and address to leave behind

If you’re planning a foreign trip, don’t forget:

  • Passport
  • Voltage converter
  • Little souvenirs or postcards from home you can leave as thank-you gifts
  • Thick-soled shoes that can stand up to cobblestone streets
  • Proper clothing—nix the white sneakers, sweat pants and sports-logo shirts