Before you fill up the tank and hit the road, take some time to prepare for your genealogy road trip. Here are some things you can do ahead of time as well as a checklist of things to take with you that will help you have a successful and enjoyable trip.
What to Do Before You Go
1. Form a Research Plan
A research plan is more than a to-do list. It's deciding what your goal is, reviewing what you already have, and making a basic plan of attack. (Not sure how to make a research plan? Check out this post.)
2. Make a To Do List
After you have your research plan, now you can get specific about what you want to look at and where you'll look for it. If you're going to more than one place, make a separate list for each (one for the library, one for the probate court, etc.) Also, before you go, look at what you can online so you can save your on-site research time for those things that are only available in person. (If visiting a library is on your road trip itinerary, here are 6 ways you can make that library visit better.)
3. Schedule Your Trip
Plan out when you want to be where. Be logical — you don't want to plan a cemetery visit for 11:00pm (unless you want the neighbors calling the police on you). Double-check the hours of all of the libraries, archives, and courthouse offices that you plan to visit. TIP: offices in small courthouses sometimes close for lunch; plan accordingly.
4. Print Out or Take Screenshots of Maps
This is especially important if you're going somewhere that might not have great cell service, like an out-of-the-way cemetery. Print the directions or take screenshots on your phone. That way you have the directions even if you don't have a signal.
What to Take With You
1. Chargers and power cords
2. Copies of family photos to give to cousins you're planning on meeting
3. Change for copiers
5. Pens and pencils (or at least pencils; some facilities don't allow pens)
6. Cemetery kit (small whisk broom, clippers, etc.)
7. Laptop lock
8. Printouts of your to-do lists
9. Your spirit of adventure and sense of humor
What's your "must do" or "must take" item for a genealogy road trip?