DIY Push Pin Travel Map
If there’s one thing every RV needs, it’s a map.
I remember visiting my aunt and uncle as a kid and they had a huge map set up in their basement where they documented all of their travels with push pins. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and knew one day I’d have one of my own.
Whether you love to travel, plan to travel, or simply dream of doing it someday, this DIY push pin travel map is the perfect way to document your adventures, or maybe just brush up on your geography.
While we had plans to add a map to our RV, the big question was… where?
I originally thought about adding a pull-down map towards the front of the RV, behind the driver and passenger seats. I figured this way we could pull it down to hide the driver’s area while we were parked, and there would be enough space for us both to stand in front of it and decide where our next stop would be.
We also considered creating a roller shade from a large map for our hallway to cover the two windows.
In the end, we decided we really wanted a map that we could add pushpins to in order to document our travels. Since we wanted a larger scale map we figured the best spot to hang it would be in our bedroom. We had already removed a large mirror from the back wall so all we had to do was determine the size we wanted and find our map.
I couldn’t find too many before photos of our RV bedroom from when we first bought it, but here’s one:
Ummm.. can you say 70’s style hotel room? Haha.
DIY Push Pin Travel Map
I then spent waaaaaaay more time looking at maps than I had anticipated. We wanted something that had a vintage vibe, but at the same time had updated information.
After hours looking at various US maps, I kept coming back to this map. I loved the antique style and that it was more of a horizontal design vs. square. I knew it would look perfect above the cedar chair railing we had added to our bedroom.
That’s when I reached out to World Maps Online, who provided us with the map for this post. The customer support was awesome and they gave me all sorts of tips for mounting the map onto different types of materials.
Here’s how they described the peel and stick map material:
“The adhesive is a little more aggressive than a typical sticky note and will stay up for years.”
We originally considered adding the map to corkboard or even foam board, but ultimately decided that plywood would be the best option for creating this push pin map inside our RV. This was mainly because finding corkboard in the size we needed made it a bit pricey, and I read that foam board can be flammable and wasn’t sure how I felt about that in the RV.
- US or World – we used this one in 67 x 36 with re-positionable peel and stick
- 1/4 inch plywood – you can get this cut down to size at the hardware store
- Two 1 x 2 cedar boards (stained with tung oil), but you could also use fir strips, wooden dowels, etc.
- Measuring Tape
- Credit Card or something else to smooth the map out onto the plywood – I used my Silhouette scraper.
- Two eye hooks
- Drill + Screws
- Hanging Hardware (we actually screwed the map directly into the wall of our RV for extra support)
- Nail – this is for decorative purposes only
- If you don’t use the peel and stick map you can attach it to the plywood using spray adhesive like I did in this post.
- Push Pins
The first thing we did was measure the size of the plywood we needed as well as the cedar boards which would be a decorative “frame” for the top and bottom of the map. This will depend on the map size you use and if you want to add framing.
Note: I recommend measuring your map before buying the plywood or whatever backing you are going to use and not just going off the measurements you see online. Our map was just slightly smaller than the measurements online so we actually had our plywood cut to 66.5″ wide and 39″ tall. We had it cut a few inches taller than the actual map size so that we could add our 1 x 2 cedar boards to the top and bottom of the plywood, which was cut to 68.5″ long.
If you’re going to “frame” your DIY push pin travel map with any wood then you’ll want to stain it now. This way you can give it the amount of time required to fully dry before you attach it to your plywood. We used tung oil because we are obsessed with it, but it takes a lot longer to cure than most stains. We waited a couple of days before attaching it but it actually leaked down a little bit onto our map. Luckily the map is a vintage style so it’s a little harder to notice but we should have waited longer before attaching them. Woops.
Next, you’ll want to measure out where the wooden frame will go onto the plywood and mark lines so that you have a guide on where to place your map. You could have your frame placed on top of your map or have it line up next to it. We decided to have our cedar wood line upright on top of the map.
Now you get to attach the map to your plywood, yay! If you’re using a really large map I recommend having someone help you with this.
Let me say that the first thing I noticed about the map was the quality and that it had a really nice texture, sort of like canvas.
We lined the map up to the lines we drew onto the plywood and then removed the backing from one corner. We then placed the sticky corner into position and slowly started removing the rest of the map backing. Eric helped me slowly move the map down into place. I smoothed the map out as much as possible using my Silhouette scraper (you could also use a credit card) to avoid wrinkles, starting from one corner and working my way out. We worked slowly and gently but because the map was re-positionable we were able to lift it up and start again when we felt it was more off than we wanted.
If you don’t use the peel and stick map you can attach it to the plywood using spray adhesive like I did in this post.
Side note: I used a black sharpie to “paint” the thin side of the plywood but looking back it would have been better to paint an inch or two around the border of the plywood, and the side white (if anyone will be able to see the side). I say this because our map had a white border and after we placed it down we were off by just a smidge, so you can see a tiny part of the pinkish plywood we used. It’s barely noticeable but had we painted that area of the plywood white, you wouldn’t notice it at all. It’s not something you have to do, but it would basically help if you’re map isn’t perfectly lined up to the edge.
You can see our map fully attached to the plywood in the photo below. You’ll notice we left a couple of inches at the top and bottom of the plywood for our cedar 1 x 2’s.
We attached the map to the wall of our RV with our nail gun and then added a couple of screws.
We could have waited and attached the cedar 1 x 2’s first but wanted to give the stain a bit more time to dry and were just excited to see this guy up on the wall.
You’ll probably just want to add some heavy-duty hanging hardware to the back of your map/plywood and hang it from that. However, we decided to go this route to make it extra secure in our RV. Of course, you want to be extra careful when you nail or screw things into the walls of your motorhome, but there was previously a heavy mirror here so we knew it would be fine and could handle the weight.
Before we attached the 1 x, 2 cedar boards, to the top and bottom we screwed an eye screw to the sides of the top board. We then strung some twine through the eye hooks so that it will look like the map is hanging from the twine. This is purely decorative.
We used cedar because it’s super lightweight and since it’s a softwood it was pretty easy to screw in the eye hooks. However, if you’re having trouble you can poke a hole with a thumbtack first which will make it easier for the eye hook to go in.
We then attached the cedar 1 x 2 boards with our nailgun. Easy peasy. Now it looks like the map is hung from a nail but it’s really just an added rustic touch.
Here’s what the DIY push pin travel map looks like hung up in the bedroom of our RV. Sooooo much better than it was when we first bought it, and now we have an awesome map to document our adventures.
You can see from the photo below that our alignment of the map was just slightly off, so you can see some of the pinkish plywood on the left side. I feel like it’s less noticeable in person but will probably paint the edge or add white washi tape or something someday. Maybe…
That’s why I suggested painting the border of your plywood to match the border of the map you use. Sure we could have removed the map and re-positioned it, but we figured it wasn’t too bad. Overall, I’m pretty excited at the transformation of our RV bedroom, and this map makes a huge impact on the space.
And the plywood makes it easy to add map pins, yay!
What do you think? I absolutely LOVE our map and highly recommend checking out World Maps Online if you’re looking for map decor for your home or RV.
I can’t wait to fill this baby up with pins as we journey across the US in our RV! Are there any small mountain towns you think we should add to our must-see list? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!
Update: Here’s a photo of our DIY push pin travel map soon after we hit the road.
And here’s a photo from Christmas, when we strung battery-operated fairy lights around the map to highlight the places we’ve traveled. We liked it so much that we decided to keep the lights up year-round.
Thank you so much to World Maps Online for providing us with the beautiful antique-style map for this post. As always, all opinions are 100% our own and we only recommend products we use and love.