Saturday, September 30, 2023


Don’t stop at “making” memories in an RV

Make a memory – Document a memory – Revisit a memory

By Nina Soltwedel
Owning an RV means, for many of us, taking extended trips. Many reading right now may recall having taken a many-thousand-mile trip in their RV, camper, trailer, etc. – a trip that took them to far-off places to see vistas they’d not seen before, to meet new people along the way, to discover hidden treasures such as a magnificent vista just around that corner up ahead, or a place to camp on the edge of a peaceful lake with just the hoot of an owl to keep one company. You get the idea.

However, did you document that trip so that, years from now, you can open a notebook and relive the trip all over again?

I imagine some of you are thinking, “Yeah, but we took pictures. That’s documenting the memories.” I agree, but what I suggest is taking it one step further: Document the trip with something in addition to photos.

Worthington Glacier

Recently, I decided to sort through the decades of photos, letters, cards, etc., that my hubby and I have accumulated, which were stored in assorted large plastic bins in our basement. I had three huge bins filled with items going back as far as when we both were babies (our respective parents saved everything), along with three smaller boxes overflowing with family photographs. I began sorting, and while doing that, I began to travel down Memory Lane … a very long lane!

Sorting through the photo albums, letters and keepsake items, I came across a camping journal I had purchased before we left on a trip to Alaska the summer of 2002. While we took many photos during our journey, the journal added so much more.


It provided boxes to check off campground amenities such as electricity, showers, shaded sites, laundry, etc. There was a place to rate each campground, space to record fuel purchases, plus food, entertainment and that good old standby, miscellaneous costs. By recording the date, time, place, beginning and ending miles, plus a one-word weather report, it was easy to remember each stopping point. I had added pages to the journal to record extra places we visited each day, knowing we would be traveling more than the 32 days’ pages the journal contained.

Grizzlies at Hyder, AK

Seventeen years later, as I turned the pages, reading the names of the campgrounds we visited and the added attractions of nature and wildlife viewing, I enjoyed the trip all over again. I rediscovered that the round-trip mileage was 9,150 miles; that we saw moose, caribou, sea lions, antelopes, eagles, puffins, spawning salmon, harrier hawks, humpback whales, bears (black and grizzly); that we saw panoramic views, crystal clear streams, rivers, and icebergs; that we walked on glaciers, took a bus partway up Denali, went to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, visited several Native peoples’ museums, visited the extensive museum at the University of Alaska, took the ferry to Vancouver Island and spent time in Victoria, and so much more.

While we were in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, for the second time (on our homeward-bound segment), I met a woman from my birthplace in Wisconsin, whom I had known when she was a little girl and I was in high school with her big sister (that was a long time ago!). We were attending the Frantic Follies that evening, and she sat in the row in front of us. She now lives in Iron River, Michigan, and we live in Boulder, Colorado. Small world!

I ran out of journal pages in late July, but had brought along enough extra pages to continue making a record of the trip. By reading the journal, I was reminded that we left home on June 16, and pulled back into our driveway on August 8. It was a magnificent trip … and now I can relive it all again whenever I choose.

Happy memory-making wherever you roam … and don’t forget to make notes!

Nina and her hubby, Bob, have been RVing since 1998. They have visited the United States in their RVs except Delaware and Hawaii (still waiting for that bridge to Hawaii to be built), and much of Canada. They have been members of Discovery Owners Association since 1999. Nina served 12 years as Editor/Publisher of the club’s quarterly newsletter, Discovery Express. Owning an RV has enabled them to meet many wonderful folks from around the world and form lasting friendships.



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4 years ago

I have been keeping journals for years and my husband and I frequently read them. It’s fun to talk about all the things we have experienced together through our 35 years of camping…much more meaningful than pictures alone!

Tom Gutzke
4 years ago

After our honeymoon 50+ years ago we couldn’t figure out how we spent so much money. Our next trip was our 5th anniversary and we went to Niagara Falls. This time we wrote down everything in a spiral notebook. Now I use my laptop for a written record and print it when we get home, putting it in the photo album after the pictures. It helps to recall what was taken and where. Enjoying looking back at 30+ years of travel to all 49 states on the continent plus some Canadian provinces with our RVs. We gave up waiting for the bridge to Hawaii and flew from Sky harbor airport in Phoenix in 2017 – our 50th Anniversary. Seven nights on Oahu, five nights on Maui and five nights on Hawaii. After returning to Phoenix we headed to Florida for 2+ months. October 10th, 2017 to March 18th, 2018 – our longest trip so far – and worth every penny.

4 years ago

I’ve kept a journal from the day we bought the MH 3 yrs ago. Ive got pictures and videos to go along I just need to sit down and put it together. But I struggle with how and what I want to use. I’ve always been a picture nut from the day I got my first brownie camera. I learned from my Mom who has documented pictures and scrap books dating to the early 1900s. I have boxes and boxes of VHS tapes from each Christmas. I love creating Shutterfly books but I have stopped because I’m not sure what to do with all of them. I converted our old family 8mm to VHS years ago. Now VHS can go to digital – but 20yrs from now what will be the format. Before I spend hrs/days/years converting 50+ photo albums to digital and all my VHS tapes I need to be convinced all my work can be viewed in the future. Does anyone else struggle with this? Ps: and by the way the kids have said they don’t want the albums, digitize them Mom.

4 years ago

We have been full timing since 2006 and before that we took long trips every summer with our kids. I take the time to scrapbook. As we travel I take notes than I download pictures to Shutterfly. When the trip is still fresh in my mind I coordinate my notes and the pictures in the scrapbook. We relive the trip shortly after we take it through scrapbooking than again when that orange box gets to us and refer to those trips again and again. I have about 100 books both before and after electronic scrapbooking. The journals and scrapbooks of 40 some years of marriage and family are priceless

4 years ago

Yes, I have those journal pages you describe. I began filling them out in 2006 when we purchased our first travel trailer. Each time we took the trailer out for a weekend or a week or for 3 months during the winter, I filled out a page about the trip. I also filled out a page for any side trip we took. It’s great to read back through all the wonderful things we saw. And now that my husband is no longer here to make those trips with me, it’s especially good to reminisce about the things we enjoyed together.

4 years ago

Journaling is a terrific idea, and a lost art. As I get older and review old photo albums, I find someone somehow Photoshopped me into my old 35mm film pictures decades before that program existed. I don’t remember being there and doing that even when I see my younger self. Even creepier, some of my writings are getting like that…

Mara Sievers
4 years ago

I think this is a fantastic idea! Where can I get a camping journal?

Nina Soltwedel
4 years ago
Reply to  Mara Sievers

Check out places where camping equipment is sold. Also, check at Walmart. It always surprises me what one can find there. You could create your own journal. Any notebook will do. Simply dedicate a page to a day. Record data such as date, time of departure, any stops along the way, overnight stops with details, etc. Note any anomalies and don’t forget to add names of people you met. Have a great trip!

A Bowen
4 years ago
Reply to  Mara Sievers

I keep a trip journal in a word processor when we travel. I add photos to go along with my commentary, and we print it out and put it in a notebook when we get home. You can include whatever you want and make it as detailed as you want. My typing is more legible than my handwriting, and we always travel with a computer in the RV.

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