Keeping an RV travel journal may sound silly at first, but it can be so helpful for many things later on down the road. Like…
Why keep an RV travel journal?
- To remember. No matter your age or health condition, you cannot remember everything that happens as you travel. Photos are helpful, but unless you make specific notations, some details will slip your mind over time. A journal keeps the most important trip events, feelings, and places chronicled forever.
- To advise. Family members and friends may well want to visit the places you’ve experienced. You can give them specific recommendations for restaurants, lodging, and sights to see if you’ve kept track of these in your journal.
- To reflect. Looking back through a travel journal will give you insights into your state of mind, physical health, and preferences during certain times in your life. A journal can potentially catalog your personal growth as you move through life.
- To exercise your creativity. A journal need not be a diary. Words are important, of course. However, you can make illustrations, add photos, include souvenirs, and so much more to personalize your RV travel journal.
The right journal book
- Lines/no lines. There’s really no right or wrong journaling format. If you like to write detailed accounts of places you’ve visited you may want to get a book that contains lines. If you prefer to draw, use photos, or otherwise decorate the pages, a blank book may be best.
- Lays flat. I’ve found that a book that lays flat makes the best journal. Not only is it easier to enter notes, photos, etc., a journal that opens to lay flat gives you more space on each page.
- Fancy or not. Again, this is a personal preference. There are so many beautiful journals available online, in bookstores, and in stores like Target. Choose the one that you think will work best for you. (I used a spiral notebook for one of my first journals.)
- Size. Your RV travel journal should be easy to carry and pack along. Obviously, if the pages are too small you won’t be able to fit “extras” on each page. (Think postcards, restaurant coasters, etc.) If the page size is overly large you may find it difficult to “fill” the page.
- Paper type. Take time to check out the kind of paper inside the journals you are considering. A smoother paper may be easier for handwritten notes. A heavier-weight paper is better if you plan to add photos or souvenirs.
- Closure. No matter what kind of book you choose for your journal, you’ll need to have a way to keep it closed. Many journals come with a ribbon closure or colorful elastic band that will hold the pages together. You can even use a rubber band, but you really need to keep the pages from rumpling when it’s inside your suitcase, backpack, purse, or RV.
- Small note-taking book. Some folks prefer to carry a very small notebook in which to jot down emotions, names of people they meet, etc. They then transfer these notes into their actual journal later. This might be something you want to consider.
- Postcard journal. You make your own “book” from the postcards you collect along your journeys. Each time you purchase a postcard, journal on the back side of the card. When your trip ends, use a hole punch to make a hole in the upper corner on each postcard. Use twine or ribbon to fasten the “pages” together to form a book.
How to be consistent in journaling
There is no right or wrong way to journal your travels. Some folks like to make an entry every day or multiple times on action-packed days. Other journal-makers prefer to make notations or entries less frequently. It’s up to you. I find it most helpful to set aside a specific time each day to journal. For me, after our evening meal is a good time for me to sit and reflect on the day.
What to include in your RV travel journal
- Date. Always make sure to include the full date when journaling (mm/dd/yyyy).
- Location. Indicate your location (name of RV park or boondocking coordinates, etc.) every time you journal. I like to jot down the highways we traveled to get to our location too. I do this just by sketching a highway somewhere on the journal page. Then I print the highway number on a dot sticker and place the sticker on my highway sketch.
- Activities and responses. You can note any hikes, sightseeing stops, or other daily activities in your journal. I also include my feelings about what we did, noting my likes/dislikes. Try to remember your five senses as you journal. (For example: What did the temperature feel like? How great the BBQ meat tasted! Loved the fresh, clean smell of mountain air!)
Adding creative extras
- Color. You can add color to your journal by using differently colored ink pens, colored pencils, or markers. Just check first to make sure they won’t “bleed” through the journal’s paper.
- Mixed media. Washi tape, scrapbook paper, stickers, stamps, and other media can easily add interest and color to your journal pages. Consider using some or all of them.
- Photos. Allow space to add your travel photos to your journal pages. Postcards are a good alternative if you feel your photography lacks pizazz. I try to include my husband (or other travel buddies) in the pictures I take. After all, they are the ones who make traveling so much fun.
- Souvenirs. If you eat at a special diner, keep the napkin that features the name/restaurant logo. You can attach it into your journal later. Same goes for the campground map, tourist attraction brochures, hiking maps, ticket stubs, and more.
Check out these camping-themed journals—one of these would be perfect!
Do you keep an RV travel journal? Tell us about it in the comments below.
When we began to travel extensively following retirement, blogging was the way to go. I spent many hours downloading photos, writing text and combining it all into our blog. It was taking too many hours of our valuable time, so now we keep an easy-to-read daily computer log and separate records for gas, RV repairs/maintenance, campgrounds, entertainment, mileage, etc. It’s much easier and faster to make the entries at the end of a busy day.
I keep two journals—one small one in the truck that records each expenditure made each day, plus mileage for the day. I include cost per gal plus admissions, meals, etc. This gets transferred to a spread sheet saved for future references.
The second one is done on my laptop in camp. It includes a summary of places visited, campground names and ratings, overall thoughts and impressions of things seen and enjoyed each day. All of this is in somewhat of a loose note-taking format.
We are usually gone 3-9 weeks, so having a daily log is very helpful when I create a fairly significant Trip Scrapbook, complete with lots of photos and momentos, the following winter. I have Scrapbooks of all of our journeys for the past 30 years as well as similar journals my mother kept during the 1950’s and 1960’s when we camped all over the west together. Priceless.
We use an app called “RV Trip Diary” to log all of this information on our phones (and tablet). It’s free and available on both iOS and Android and has fields to capture all kinds of useful information. You can upload pictures too to remember the specifics of the site you stayed at. It even synchronizes the data across all the devices in your account.
One thing that I find very useful in a journal besides the above, is being able to refer back to the campgrounds, restaurants and such so we know what to stop at again (or what to avoid). I like the “My RV Travel Journal” published by Roundabout Publications. It has room for everything plus a lot of room for description of what we see.
We have a spiral-bound ‘journal’ that we keep notes in regarding where we are, what we saw while getting there, shortcuts we used (and liked or didn’t like), stops we made that we want to remember for next time, etc. Nothing fancy, but the cover has the year on it (like 2022). The problem with spiral-bound notebooks is trying to write near the ‘spiral’. Grrrrr.
I keep a simple journal in MS Word; one per month. It’s searchable and has come in handy many times to look back at what and when. Also use the Evernote App to add things using the phone or tablet when I can’t access the PC, then transfer the info later.