Dreaming about traveling to the homeland of your German ancestors… ?

… but when it comes to planning your ancestral trip, you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start?

Don’t worry, I have got you covered!

Hi! My name is Sonja Irani. I am the founder and main tour guide at
My Ancestor’s Journey – an emigration-themed tour operator business based in Bremen, northern Germany.

I have been working as a professional tour guide for walking tours in the city of Bremen and as a tour leader on multi-day tours across Europe (Germany, Norway and Sweden) since 2018.

In 2019-2020, I studied “Tourism Destination Development” at Dalarna University, Sweden. Here, I wrote my Master thesis about “The most memorable travel experiences of North American ancestral travelers to Germany”. 

Ever since then, I specialize in emigration-themed and ancestry-inspired guided tours for Americans who would like to find out more about their German roots.

Me in front of the Roland statue, a 600-year-old knight, on the medieval market square of Bremen
Me on one of my trips around Germany on the medieval market square of Quedlinburg, East Germany (another Roland statue in the back)

How My Ancestor’s Journey can help you make that dream come true!

My “hometown of choice”, Bremen, is the perfect starting place to learn more about your German ancestors. After all, more than 7 million people emigrated to the “New World” (mostly to America) from either Bremen or the nearby harbor town of Bremerhaven between 1830 and 1974.

That’s why I have created the 3-day emigration-themed guided tour, on which we will explore several emigration-related sites in Bremen and surrounding areas in northern Germany.

If you have ancestors from Germany and are planning to visit, this short weekend trip along the north German emigration cities Bremen, Bremerhaven and Cloppenburg in Lower Saxony may be the perfect introduction tour for your family heritage trip to Germany.

On this tour, you will learn a lot about your German ancestors – including how they lived here, which reasons they had for emigrating and what their emigration experience was like. It’s definitely a trip to remember as you will literally be walking in your ancestors’ footsteps.

Translator to Tour Guide: My journey so far

A little bit more about me and my journey so far: I am originally from Ankum, a small town in Lower Saxony (northwest Germany) near the city of Osnabrück. But for as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by other cultures and countries.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that I have a so-called “multicultural background”. My mom is German. But my dad is originally from India and has Persian ancestors that emigrated from Iran to India (hence the surname “Irani”).

In high school, I spent one year as a German exchange student in Hampshire, England. Later on, I studied the Bachelor degree “Multilingual Communication” in Cologne. After my graduation in 2009, I worked as an English to German Marketing Translator, Editor and Journalist for a decade.

During that time, I also lived in London, England for three and a half years and was a “temporary emigrant” myself. 😉 When I moved back to Germany in 2015, I decided to settle in Bremen because I always thought that the city had just the right size (not too big, not too small).

As I was doing more and more translations and writing assignments in tourism marketing, I became interested in tour guiding. So since the summer of 2018, I have been a professional local tour guide for walking tours in Bremen. From 2019 onwards, I have also worked as a tour leader on multi-day guided group tours in Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Tour Guide Sonja Irani in Norway
Me tour guiding in Norway
Me in an old farm house at the open-air museum “Museumsdorf Cloppenburg”, which we will visit on the 3-day tour.

The two American brothers that started my ancestry journey

My mom, Elisabeth Irani, and I first got interested in ancestry research when two brothers from Baltimore in America knocked on the door of my parents’ house in Ankum back in the year 2005.

They shared the same surname as my mom’s maiden name (Fleddermann). After some digging in the local church archives, we found out that we were indeed related and that their ancestor and our ancestor were first cousins.

Over the years, we have received many more enquiries from Americans with German ancestors that emigrated from Ankum and surroundings. The area here is very rural and since most emigrants to America were poor peasant famers, there were a lot that emigrated from Ankum and surroundings.

My mom is a hobby genealogist and contributing member in the “Heimatverein” (local heritage society) of Ankum. These associations exist in many German towns, even very small villages. They are a great source of contact if you would like to visit your ancestors’ hometowns.

I have always been very passionate about history. And I found that because of the personal connection, ancestry research is a great way to make historical events more relatable and therefore more fun to learn about.

What’s next on your journey

The two American brothers from Baltimore were lucky with their “knocking on doors” approach. However, this method isn’t always successful for finding out more about your German ancestors and connecting with living relatives. Usually, it pays off to plan your ancestry trip to Germany more thoroughly and longer in advance.

That’s why I have created the new Germany ancestry trip planning online course, which will open for enrollment in July 2024.

If you like to stay updated for the launch and secure a special bonus once course registration opens, you can sign up to the course waiting list. This waiting list is completely non-binding with no commitment to purchase the course later on.

Meanwhile, you can also check out my travel blog. Here, I provide ancestry travel tips and destination inspirations for your family heritage trip to Germany.

And who knows? Maybe you will soon get to stand in your ancestor’s home just like I stand in a typical north German farmer’s house in the open-air museum of Cloppenburg in this photo.

PS: Just in case you are wondering: Yes, I have changed my hair color a few times in recent years. I was blond between 2021 and 2023, but I am back to my natural brown hair now. 🙂

I’m waiting for you at the open-air museum in Cloppenburg! 😉
The Germany Trip Planning MINI GUIDE

Start planning your ancestry trip to Germany today for 0 $!

Is your dream to go on an ancestry-inspired trip to Germany? So you can learn more about your German ancestors and literally walk in their footsteps?

Well today, you can take the first “baby steps” to make your travel dream come true.

In the Germany Trip Planning MINI GUIDE (PDF) provides 18 ideas for ancestry-inspired activities on your trip as well as an overview of all main travel regions in Germany.

There is also an “Ancestor’s Fact File”, which you can fill in with everything you already know about your German ancestor(s) and thus come up with a few more activity ideas for your very own trip.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your trip today and walk in your ancestors’ footsteps tomorrow!

Download Your Mini Guide
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