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I hear more and more people doing what I’m going to call “genetic tourism:” seeking their heritage by going back to where they think they’re from, or where DNA says their parents, grandparents or distant relatives came from, and learning about themselves by tracing their family stories or genes.
Two years ago, Ancestry.com partnered with Go Ahead Tours and began offering genealogy-themed trips across Europe. Ancestry.com also worked with Cunard and the Queen Mary 2 to put together a westbound transatlantic cruise where passengers would retrace the steps their ancestors took from England to America, with genealogists offering workshops and telling stories each day. In 2020, another QM 2 cruise will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage, where many Americans can now trace their own beginnings.
We call them smartphones, but if you’re like me, then phone doesn’t even make the list of Top 20 reasons I use the device. One thing that’s certain though: as savvy and versatile as they are, those damn phones have taken a lot of spontaneity out of life.
We’re never more then a few clicks away from anything and therefore, end up planning almost everything. I’m not saying to ditch the phone as you’ll want the camera, GPS and social media apps on the road. Some days though, you should let whim take control. There’s no better way to put spontaneity back into life than by traveling.
I have no doubt you’ve said or heard these words at least twice this year: “Where has the time gone?” In a day when we can post a picture and receive reactions from friends in five countries within five minutes and instantaneous everything is the norm, it's natural for the pace of life — for life itself — to feel like it’s spinning faster than ever. There are, I imagine, many ways to slow down time, but I can think of no better way than by traveling.
I met a young man, Jedidiah Jenkins, in Utah last month. His parents had walked across America in the 70’s and written a book about it. At age 30, he felt like it was time to make a shake-it-up-move-on-life, and so he began biking from Oregon to Patagonia, a 15-month, 13,990-mile odyssey. As Jenkins put it, “When you are a kid, everything is new: you don’t know what’s under each rock, or up the creek. So you look. You notice because you need to. The world is new. Your brain is paying more attention to every second.”
It is one of the USA’s most successful tourism marketing campaigns ever — winning awards, shattering visitation expectations and even making Michiganders who had moved away crave a return to their homeland. With clever copywriting, dreamy videography and Tim Allen’s soft, compelling voice, Pure Michigan’s television commercials are the epitome of marketing done right.
There are, however, some deep, dark secrets that haven’t come out yet.
It’s the type of place where going out for lunch might mean grabbing a spear gun to go hunt for reef fish. A place where a walk to the beach may put you in a line behind a village chief, who clears the path with his machete. It’s home of the USA’s only south-of-the-equator national park, a tropical paradise where magical ocean blues and steamy jungle greens collide.