Why Keep a Camping Journal?

I try to write in my journal everyday, otherwise I forget important things. The best time for me is in the morning. Even then, I sometimes forget things we did yesterday. When we are doing a lot of traveling, I write as soon as we get on the highway. My navigator responsibilities usually get a break for a while.

Let’s face it. We’re all getting older. There are times when we can’t remember what we had for lunch yesterday, let alone remember the name of the campground we stayed at two years ago on our way to some destination. Ever thought about keeping a travel journal? I find a journal to be very helpful and fun.

When we started on our first cross country trip with family members aboard, my sister-in-law suggested I keep a journal. So I took a notebook and started my first journal back in 1998. I keep a journal for every trip that involves new places.

The benefits of a journal are many. A journal is:

  • – Fun to write
  • – Fun to reread
  • – A reference for future trips
  • – A source for e-mail information
  • – A reminder of what day it is as you are writing

A typical entry might look like this:

4/30 – Left Flagstaff. Started downhill, and downhill and downhill. We were going to exit onto 93 north and cross over at the Hoover Dam, but since 9/11, we are restricted, so we had to detour. We got onto I 15 north. You can see a long, long way on the highway. We watch the highway disappear into the mountain range ahead and wonder how the road goes through. There is a river called Virgin River that cuts a gorge through the mountains that you can’t see until you enter it. It was so WOW. Glad we were going uphill. Rolled into the Zion NP area about 6:00 pm. Wanted to get into the Quail Creek State Park, but the entrance was SO steep, we dared not. Ended up at the Zion West RV Park in Leeds (exit 22 off I 15). Right off the highway. Narrow sites.

When I make an entry, I try to keep in mind things that will be important when I reread the journal. Two years from now, we may be on the same route looking for a campground for the night. I include:

  • Things we really enjoyed
  • Things we didn’t enjoy so we don’t recommend them to someone else (like you)
  • Campground descriptions – enough to jog my memory Name, city, state, highway and exit number Was it nice?
  • Make note of any specific sites that we would prefer – Gas station information Name, city, state, highway and exit number Was it easy for a big motor home? Did it have easy access?
  • Route information Did the route work out well? Was there anything confusing?

I use a computer when we travel and my journal is written in a word processing program. We also have a digital camera and this allows me to add pictures to the journal. Of course documents with many pictures take up much more storage space on the hard disk drive and are slower to move through because the computer must display the pictures. But the pictures add a lot to the story.

You can use sections of the journal for sending e-mail from your computer. When we were on our Alaska trip in 2002, we sent regular e-mail to a long list of friends and family. Many of them responded, saying they felt like they were on the trip with us. Some followed us with maps. We became a geography lesson for others.

So the next time you head out on a new adventure, try keeping a journal. It doesn’t have to be perfect or pretty. Think of it as a reference tool. Have fun with it.

Happy Camping – Donna Flanders