Tuesday, October 3, 2023


An easy trick to keep important documents in the RV … without all the paper

We are full-time RVers and have the luxury of a file drawer, lots of cabinets, and nooks and crannies to stash stuff. And stash them we have! As I was trying to cram one more sheet of paper into the file drawer, I thought, “There has to be a better way!” While I had already weeded out older warranty booklets, instruction manuals, ancient tax forms and receipts, there was still a lot left.

I made a quick call to our tax accountant to see what we had to save. He suggested we go through all our papers, scan them, put them on a hard drive or in the “cloud” and only save the paper we actually needed.

So that’s what I did! I pulled out all our files, papers, and receipts from drawers and cabinets. It grew to be a veritable mountain of paper!

Using the cell phone to take the photos, I set up the system I had used for documenting all of our non-digital photos in our old photo albums (more on that here) and it worked great. My iPhone has a scanner setting or, of course, it can just take photos. I chose to take photos as I could save them quicker. I already have two small LED lights and a stand for a cell phone. The system stores well too!

Photo credit Nanci Dixon

Here was the process in digitizing my documents:

Day one: I just started photographing the documents, not paying a lot of attention to what I was taking or how I would save it. Bad move.

Day two: This time I separated the segments by writing what I was photographing and the word “start” on a sticky note. I took a photo of that, clicked the series of documents and wrote “end” on the sticky note and scanned it again. Now I didn’t need to read every pic to decide how to file.

Photo credit Nanci Dixon

Day three, four, five: I copied every piece of paper and organized onto two separate hard drives.

Day six: Took one hard drive to our safe deposit box. Both hard drives had all our previously scanned photos from our photo albums too. First, I double-checked with our tax accountant on what papers to save. (Consult a professional if in doubt!)

Photo credit Nanci Dixon

Day six, evening: Enjoyed a good bonfire and lightened our load. Wow! Now I have lots of space to put more stuff in….

You might like…

Hard drives on Amazon

##RVDT1682 ##RVDT2189


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Neal Davis
1 month ago

Good idea; thank you, Nanci!

1 month ago

I use a product called “Evernote”. It accepts emails and scans. It has a rudimentary text recognition so when I perform a search, it can look for keywords in scanned documents.

All of my documents are stored there and are available on my phone or any PC. They are also stored locally so I always have access.

Jilly Bob
1 month ago

We are full timers and I love my epson workforce scanner. It’s very compact and lightweight. (We still carry a laptop because my husband uses a canon camera and does photo editing on the laptop’s bigger screen.) I plug the scanner into the laptop, manually feed the pages into the scanner one at a time. The epson software creates a document with all the associates pages. I title the document and save on an external hard drive which is stored in a fireproof safe. Ideal for tax time! A lifesaver for all the documents after my mother passed away.

Astrid Bierworth
1 month ago

I have a scanner that travels everywhere with us. I have been scanning all my receipts for years. I also either download manuals or scan them in. I hate paper. I back up all my files every week to an external drive. I also read ebooks and emagazines.

Bob P
1 month ago

I am old enough to remember all the hoopla about computers when they started becoming the rage(70s&80s) and how they were going to save the world of all the paperwork. Then the truth slowly broke free, it seems as with anything electronic from time to time they crash, either destroying their content or locking it up forever never to be seen again. This caused a serious crimp in any kind of business as their files were never more to be accessed.
Hmmm, we need to back up our files, break out the file cabinets we just dumped. Now they use their computers for fast access to their files but also keep a hard copy in the file cabinet. Electronic files are great but I don’t completely trust them. I’m old fashioned.

1 month ago

I have a document scanner on my iPhone called TurboScan that I save all my documents on. From vehicle repairs to dr bills. It’s also available for android phones. It’s a one time charge. It backs up to both the cloud and to an email address.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.