How to Document Your RV Trip

Mar 19, 2020 | Travel & Destinations

How to Document Your RV Trip

For anyone who wants to photograph, video, or write about their RV adventures, here are some easy steps to document your next trip.

By Beth Johnston

Photo: Beth Johnston

As a freelance photographer, I get to travel a good bit with my RV. And regardless if the trip is for work or for play, I always like to document the journey. There are several approaches you can take when it comes to documentation—journaling, blogging, capturing videos, taking photographs, even using various travel apps. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or just want a new way to capture some fun memories, these tips will help you better document your next RV trip.

Mounts in the reflection of an RV window
Photo: Beth Johnston

First, Match the Method With the Trip

As I mentioned, there are multiple ways you can capture and document your trip. So you might be asking yourself “where should I begin?” I find it helpful to match the documentation method with the purpose of the trip. For instance, if I’m traveling to a location that I’ve never been before, my documentation might be very pragmatic, serving as a travel guide for friends or my return visit. For these types of trips, I like to keep a small journal and fill it with tidbits and helpful nuggets of information along the way (campsite rates, nearby dump stations, local eateries).

Airstream RV at night
Photo: Beth Johnston
Airstream RV at night
Photo: Beth Johnston

However, if I’m returning to a place that I’ve visited before, I may decide to take some photos of my absolute favorites spots. In this case, I usually know the best times to take pictures and some of the best angles, leading to better-quality photos. Or perhaps I’m going somewhere remote—a destination few others have seen. Snagging some video footage on these trips works really nicely and further emphasizes the concept behind “you must see it in order to believe it.”

Start Simple

If the idea of capturing video or taking photos seems too stressful, or if you don’t have any of the gear to do so, then try starting with something as simple as a pen and paper. At the end of the day, take a moment to write down the things that stood out to you the most. Did you go on a great hike? Or eat at a funky, delicious sandwich shop? What did you smell? What did you think about? It can be as basic as the name of the trail you hiked, or as complex as the decision to switch careers while you were driving through windy mountain roads.

Notebook on an RV table
Photo: Beth Johnston

And if you’re more of a visual person, try drawing a little picture of your day to help jog your memory. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but carving out five minutes at night to recap something from your day is a great way to ease into the documentation process.

Feel Free to Mix Methods

Sometimes, one documentation method just won’t do the trip justice. Oftentimes I will print out a few photos and put them in my trip journal, with little notes and memories tied to each picture. This way, all of the information is in one place. Alternatively, you could use an app like Evernote, where you can digitally record your notes and photos in one place. Try to ask yourself what will be most meaningful to remember later in life. As any traveler knows, a photo or journal entry can remind you of feelings, moments, realizations and conversations held outside of that split second documented.

Don’t Forget to Actually Enjoy the Trip

Woman hiking in the snow with her dog
Photo: Beth Johnston

There is always a delicate balance between being behind a screen of your camera or phone, and living in the moment. Listen to yourself and what feels healthy. I like to set aside 15 minutes dedicated to taking photos and then I put my camera away for the rest of the dat. Try not to be so focused on remembering the trip that you forget to actually experience it.

Picture Tips From a Photographer

As a professional photographer, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few photo-specific tips to help document your next RV trip. Here are some things to keep in mind when you want to get some of the best shots.

  1. Contextualize: Try to get a shot of the scenery surrounding your RV. Shooting landscape or horizontal helps capture more of whats around you, as well as keeping the RV in-view.
  2. On the Road: While pictures of the RV or trailer on the road look great, you have to be careful with these. Make sure to pull over to a safe spot, and it always helps if you have another person there to keep an eye out.
  3. Get the Details: Mix it up with close-up shots of textures, plants, logos—whatever the small elements are that make up the essence of a place.
  4. Sunrise and Sunset: Lighting just after sunrise and just before sunset make for the most dynamic photos.
  5. Nighttime Shots: If you have a camera with manual settings, play with the shutter speed, aperture and ISO to showcase the stars and other night scenery around your RV (you will need a tripod for this one!).
  6. Travel Companions: Make sure to capture the people (and animals) that are on the trip with you.
  7. Windows: A fun, unique way to show the surrounding scenery is to play with reflections in windows or to photograph out through an open window.
Airstream RV parked in the winter
Photo: Beth Johnston

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Beth Johnston

Beth is a photographer and writer based in the high mountain desert of Colorado. Thyme, her goofy border collie/retriever mutt, and Earl the Airstream (a 1978 Caravanner) are always in tow for her numerous adventures across the West.

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