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The following is an excerpt from the May/June 2011 issue of Family Chronicle...

Genealogy Road Trip: RV Style!

Jean Wilcox Hibben sings the praises of doing your research on the road

“Isn’t it awkward to drive that big vehicle everywhere?” I am often asked, when attending a genealogy conference or when I am visiting with people while doing on-site research. I admit that driving my RV to libraries, through large cities, and into graveyards can be cumbersome, but the advantages far outweigh the liabilities, in my mind. Let me explain.

First, I should clarify that I have traveled in or with a variety of different types of RVs throughout the past 30 odd years (coincidentally, my length of experience doing genealogy). Whether traveling with a trailer, parking it outside my parents’ home while interviewing them about their family members or going cross-country in a motor home, taking it into cemeteries where I was sure my ancestors were buried, the convenience of having my own sleeping, eating, and other facilities right nearby has always been a major asset.

My husband introduced me to travel via RV (die-hard campers get irritated when I call it “camping,” as I usually have electrical hookup and all the amenities of home — just on a smaller scale — when I park in a campground; nothing like my counterpart in the tent). When we started out RVing, it was in a pickup truck with a cab-over camper and, though we have tried almost every other type of rig since those early days in the late 1970s, we are back to using the same type of conveyance (though, I have to admit, the current “cab-over” has far more amenities than our initial vehicle). Almost all our rigs have provided me with a number of advantages over the more common method of genealogy travel: fly to the destination, rent a car, stay in motels/hotels, eat at restaurants, and hope to find clean rest rooms at gas stations. Here is an example of a typical couple of days, using my preferred method of travel on a genealogy junket.

At the end of a day in the library or cemetery, I hookup my laptop and digital camera and record my findings in my genealogy program, filing scans and photos onto my hard drive (making backup copies on a flash drive, external hard drive, and an off-site backup program). I fix a good dinner of chicken and rice, steaming some vegetables in my microwave. After dinner, I use my cell phone Internet connection to get on the web to check my e-mail, contact people I wish to see the next day, and access my account to double check a few things before turning in for the night.

In the morning, I wake up refreshed, having had a good night’s sleep with my own pillow and on a familiar mattress that I have purchased — one with a perfect firmness for me. Whether I am staying in a bona fide campground or at a friend or relative’s home (in the driveway …preferably one without a slant), I do not have to search for a restaurant (or even dress for breakfast) when I start my day. I fix a quick breakfast from a well-stocked (and good-sized) refrigerator before unhooking my rig and starting my new day of research...

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