Thank you to AncestryDNA for sponsoring this post.
Years ago, before I even started my website, I ordered five AncestryDNA tests for the five of us and shipped off our saliva. Six weeks or so later I received our results. We’ve been having fun with the results ever since!
Our results were interesting for all five of us. And our numbers have actually changed over the years. We haven’t taken additional tests, but Ancestry has continued to refine its algorithm and increase the size of its reference panel based on consumer data.
I grew up thinking that I was half Lithuanian (my mom’s side) and half Norwegian (my dad’s side). But life, and genealogy, are more complicated than that. My results show that I am 48% European Jewish (Lithuanian), 33% Norwegian with an additional 4% Swedish, and 11% West European/English/Welsh. There are a few smaller percentages as well.
My wife grew up assuming that she had mainly British heritage and…she was right. Her results showed 79% West European/English/Welsh, 16% Irish/Scottish, and 5% Norwegian.
And my kids are all different – although not remarkably so. They’re all 22% European Jewish. My youngest two are a little more Norwegian than my 12-year-old daughter, but she’s far more Swedish than they are.
Not surprisingly, both my wife and I have always found ourselves drawn to where we (long ago) came from. I visited Norway for the first time in 1990 when I was studying in Europe and immediately felt at home, and even enrolled at the University of Oslo for two summers, studying Norwegian language. And I loved traveling around Lithuania with friends when I finally made it there in 2003, and felt similarly comfortable there. My wife has traveled around the British isles extensively over her life, even visiting her ancestors’ castle in Scotland several times.
When it comes to family travel, we’ve incorporated the countries from our AncestryDNA tests almost every year. We’ve visited London several times. We’ve traveled around Ireland, and we return to County Cork (southern Ireland) every other year. We’ve been to Oslo twice, and traveled up the coast of Norway. And we’ve visited Sweden, as recently as this past summer.
The only major DNA destination that has eluded our family travels is Lithuania, but we’ll get there soon. We have Lithuanian friends that we’ve met up with in several countries, and have an open invitation. (I promise we’ll visit soon Inga!)
My kids have loved looking at their results. I created a graph comparing all of our Norwegian heritage, English heritage, etc…, and they’re constantly asking to view it. Three years ago my son and I were traveling to Denmark to tour the LEGO factory and, partially because of his DNA results, he wanted to stop in Norway first. If you know me and my travel planning, a quick request like that is it takes for me to add a stop to our itinerary! We had a great time, even seeing his first international football (soccer) match: Norway vs Sweden. He’s loved football ever since. And this summer we even traveled to Russia for the World Cup, watching Sweden play Switzerland. Kind of funny sitting in St. Petersburg, Russia, realizing that we were there because of my Norwegian heritage…
My youngest daughter has really studied her DNA map, and has become obsessed with visiting Ukraine (part of her European Jewish background). She’s even researched Chernobyl tours and is disappointed that you need to be 18 to participate. I’d almost guarantee that we’ll visit Ukraine next year, and then return to see the exclusion zone when she’s 18.
I mentioned before that we didn’t need to send in new saliva samples to get updated DNA results. Similarly, there’s a new AncestryDNA option that you can add without another sample: Traits. AncestryDNA helps you further explore your DNA by using well-known data to (with reasonable certainty) surmise what your DNA says about your traits, like whether you like cilantro (yep, that’s a genetic thing), whether you have a unibrow, which of your fingers is longest, whether you have a cleft chin, freckles or attached earlobes, and more. Once you purchase Traits, AncestryDNA will tell you its best guess as to the cilantro, earlobe, etc… questions and ask if it’s correct. Virtually all of mine were correct (which is atypical!) – including knowing that I love sweets. I think the only thing that it didn’t guess correctly was my cleft chin – or rather lack of a cleft chin. But apparently my DNA says that I am supposed to have one, and my doppelgänger in an alternate universe somewhere just might!
And so much fun comparing my traits with my kids – especially since they got half of their DNA from my wife. And I love clicking Around the World to see where my traits may have come from, based on survey data of other AncestryDNA customers across the globe.
Just as Ancestry allows people to connect to family trees and discover long-lost relatives through DNA testing, I love connecting to other travelers and discovering new places through their charts, and where they’ve traveled based on their results. So please tell me your story! What’s the coolest destination that you’ve discovered because of your DNA results? Have you searched out your ancestors’ hometowns? I’d love travel inspiration based on your travels.
And are you planning travel in 2019 based on your results? If anyone happens to be doing an ancestry trip to Lithuania, let me know. That may finally be the push I need to add it to our summer travels!
Note: This post was sponsored by AncestryDNA (the #1 selling consumer DNA test). We paid for our tests ourselves long ago and have loved traveling based on the results, so this was an extraordinarily easy post to write! Traits is a new feature available for $10.00. It can also be given as a gift.