Saturday, April 24, 2010

101 - How to Pack for a Research Trip

Even though we've done this many times, our packing begins early each time we travel. Of course, some items don't make their way into the suitcase until the last minute. In hope that we do not forget something, we both have lists that we compile and then compare. There are many phone calls and e-mails to coordinate. Of course, if need be we might be ready on a minute's notice ... I think!

Because we travel mostly by car, we can travel with more items than those who fly. We take advantage of every space in Lil' Red. Even so, I keep telling YGGG #2 to consolidate. Check your luggage before any trip. What size do you need? I have three different sizes plus my bag(s) on wheels for the computer and equipment. When flying, all that gets on the plane are my very large bag, one carry-on bag, me and my purse. Next month for the Salt Lake City trip I'm taking the middle sized luggage with matching tote. They must match so I color coordinate! Also I'll take a bag of maps and my research notebook. Another small bag holds sundry items such as paper punch, detergent and laundry bag. Yes, we do some laundry while there. I also have a plastic tub of sling pouches and iPod Touch pouches, uniquely designed to coordinate with every piece of clothing that I'm taking.

We prefer to eat breakfast and lunch in our hotel room in Salt Lake City. This gives us time to plan our daily research and at noon we can relax and rest before going back to being detectives. Each of us has a crate on wheels with grocery items. Some of these include energy or granola bars, crackers, cereal, tea bags, fruit cups and the popular fix-in-the-microwave, non-perishable soups and casseroles. Having a microwave and refrigerator in the room is great.

Now back to my suitcase. We are women in case you haven't noticed! We tend to coordinate clothes and change clothes perhaps more than the opposite sex. Even though we can wash, we take our fair share of clothes. Recently Dick Eastman commented in his newsletter, "I also take only one pair of shoes; namely, the shoes that I am wearing. I then pack clothes to match those shoes. Carrying an extra pair of shoes consumes a lot of space in your suitcase! You only need one pair. Make sure they are comfortable and suitable for extended walks." No woman would go anywhere, flying or driving, with only one pair of shoes! And most women have more than brown and black in their wardrobe! So much for that ... if you are a woman, don't feel bad about taking a half dozen shoes as long as you can squeeze them into your suitcase. Incidentally Dick commented that he takes duct tape. Hey, Dick, that's a man thing. I take shoes, shoes, more shoes, purses and pouches. That's a woman thing!

Why are we going to all this work for a research trip? Because it's a fun trip where we will work for days, diligently undergoing long hours of brain teasing turmoil. Did I mention it's fun work? How exciting to NOT receive a paycheck (unless doing professional work for clients) and have the pay off be locating information on some long, lost ancestor. To get to that point we have to be prepared for just about anything. I go through my genealogy files on the computer and my documents, looking for holes and missing people as well as missing evidence. There are always those elusive females who only are known as Abigail, Mary and Martha. They need names. Am I up to the test?

Recently I determined that I need to check the Ulster Co., New York land records. Okay ... bet they are on microfilm in the Family History Library. My oversized research notebook now contains a printout of the microfilm numbers for those land records. All I had to do was go to the Family History Library Catalog and begin my search. After printing it off, I marked the film numbers I need to check, as well as what I need to find on each film. It is filed under Floor #2 in my research notebook. I have tabs for all five floors. YGGG #2 does her slightly different, but she also uses printouts. We never take original documents. They are scanned or copied. By scanning, we save space by plopping the jpg files on to our laptops. I am also taking my small external hard drive that can be plugged into my laptop. It contains thousands of documents, notes and biographical information.

A word of caution. Be sure you bags have identification tags on them. This goes for any bag except the laundry bag. I'd love to have somebody think it was theirs and do my laundry! One of the most important items on your list should be a computer lock. Nothing is safe, not even in the library. If you plan on using subscription databases, take your passwords. I use an encrypted program that stores my passwords. One passwords gets me everything.

YGGG#2 and I have opted not to go to the National Genealogical Society conference in Salt Lake City which is happening in a few days. We are greedy and want to do nothing but spend every hour we can in the library. Actually there were other reasons, such as timing and family commitments. We do know that when we go to the library it will be fun. If you pack right, you'll have fun too ... especially if you are color coordinated and take plenty of shoes.

Ruby --- YGGG #1


  1. Thank you Ruby for validating my stand on the shoe issue. I would have felt better if you had called Eastman a heretic like I did, but you have my back on the shoe thing so that is good enough for me! LOL

  2. Crate on wheels for groceries. That might just be worth driving instead of flying :) Which means I could pack more shoes AND my house slippers :)

  3. Sounds like quite a plan- I'll have to hear how it goes for you when you get back. I ma planning a national reunion in Maryland in July, but also other stops at Archives, Libraries, family sites, and of course must put in some family sightseeing for everyone else!!

    Keep us updated.




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