Check out our updated mobile app list for 2018:
As Technomads, it should be no surprise that we are mobile technology lovers.
We love our iPhones and iPads, and find them to be perfect companions for our full time travels.
There is something magical about having the Internet in your pocket, a world’s worth of maps on your lap, email and messaging always with you, music and video on demand, and an abundance of incredible apps that every day make our devices ever more useful tools for facilitating our adventures.
And it’s rumored that smartphones can actually makes phone calls too.
We use a lot of apps on a daily basis – from productivity tools for running our business from everywhere, to photo processing, to social networking, and even the occasional game.
Today we’re going to update you on the apps we find ourselves loading up most frequently directly related to our RVing travels.
Please note that aside from the apps we created ourselves, we paid for all of the apps and these are unsolicited reviews. Just our honest opinions. But, if you do opt to buy any of these apps off our recommendations, some links below are iTunes affiliate links and we will get a tiny cut.
While we are strictly an Apple household, if the app has versions for other mobile device platforms we’ve listed them too.
Apps for finding RV Parks & Campgrounds
There still does not seem to be one single app that finds all campgrounds – but there are some very useful resources out there. We find ourselves using a combination of apps depending on the situation and type of camping or overnight parking we’re looking for.
|Camp & RV – $9.99||This is the ultimate RVing resource guide for finding not only campgrounds, but other RV services and overnight stops. Its campground database is now over 29,000 listings and includes RV resorts, military FamCamps, public campgrounds, overnight parking options (including which Walmarts you can’t stay overnight at), etc. It also includes places that service RVs, dump stations, propane fills and service centers. In addition, it has low clearance bridges marked, rest areas, road grades, construction alerts and tracks some of the basic state laws. Updates are free for the life of the product, and they seem to regularly improve and add content. They have other versions as well that provide subsets of their data, for instance if you want the list of Walmarts only, and offer an online subscription option.|
|Ultimate US Public Campground Project – $3.99||This app has become our go-to source for finding public campground options, which is our general preference. It currently has listings for over 20,000 state parks, national parks, municipal parks, COE, BLM lands and more. We find the information, particularly pricing, can be a bit out of date – but it’s an excellent resource. You can also use the online version for free, download the Mac app or a POI database for your GPS.|
|US Public Lands – $2.99||While this app doesn’t list specific camping locations, it overlays BLM, Forest Service, NPS and public land boundary maps. Helping you utilize US national resources! We use it for helping scout out boondocking opportunities that might not be listed elsewhere. For the full story of this app and an example of how to use it. (Disclaimer: we wrote this app)|
|Passport America – Free||If you’re a Passport America member, this app is an no-brainer to have on your mobile device for quickly searching if there are member clubs on your route. We’ve used this several times in planning our routing and enroute stops. If you’re not a Passport America member, we highly recommend it. The club gets you access to 50% discounts at RV Parks across the country, and the $44 annual membership price will pay for itself with just a couple nights stays. We love the club, and utilize their campgrounds when making transitions between our destinations to dump/fill tanks and recharge.|
Navigating to Get There
We’ve tried a lot of navigation apps and devices out over the years, but we just use the built in map apps on our iPads and iPhones. Here are the navigation apps we use and like:
|Apple’s Maps – Free||The default maps program by Apple is actually pretty good. It has turn by turn directions, satellite views, voice response via Siri and more. This is usually the first app we load for getting general directions.|
|Google Maps – Free||We also love the Google Maps and generally are running this along side Apple Maps. It’s fun when Apple and Google’s direction disagree with each other.|
|InRoute – Free (with in App purchases)||This app helps us optimize our driving day, by scouting out ahead for elevation changes, curviness, weather conditions and things along our route. We plug in our destination for the day ahead, and know before we head out which routes to take to avoid adverse conditions. We love the elevation profiles it gives us, so we can avoid routes we don’t feel like crossing.|
|Co-Pilot – Free (with in App Purchases)||We keep this app around, which has the option of offline maps that don’t need to be downloaded – just in case we end up in an area without good cellular coverage. It’s free to download, but maps will cost about $10 to download. These days, with great cellular coverage and on device map caching – we find we rarely need to revert to this option, but it’s nice to know it’s there.|
Stuff Along the Way
There are a lot of apps out there for helping you out while you’re in transit – from finding fuel, tracking your adventures and finding cool stuff. Here are some of our favorites that we find ourselves defaulting to often:
|RoadTrippers – Free||Looking for cool stuff to do along the way? The Roadtrippers website and apps are a pretty cool way to seek out things – from tourist attractions, dining options, scenic spots and even some limited RV Park listings.|
|GasBuddy – Free||Want to find the cheapest fuel prices? GasBuddy is your app. You can view user submitted fuel prices to help locate the cheapest places to fill up. But, as it’s user submitted information – do use caution. Some listings even include photos so that you can determine if the station is RV-friendly.|
|RoadTrip – $6.99||We use this fantastic app to track our fuel fill-ups, fuel economy and maintenance logs & costs for both our RV and our toad. It allows you to quickly create custom snapshots of your expenses (such as ‘Repositioning from California to Texas, Spring 2015’). It even gives us a break out of what our costs are on a daily and per mile basis.|
|SaniDumps – Free||“When RVs Have to Go…” – as the app creator says. The Sanidumps website provides a map locator for RV Dump Stations, and provides this free companion app. The app’s interface is a bit non-intuitive and doesn’t seem to refresh as you scroll around the map – but it can be a useful way to find dump stations in addition to AllStays.Alternative: RVDumpSites.Net – While they don’t offer a mobile app, this website also contains listings of dump stations across the US.|
Stuff Once You’re ‘There’
Once you pull into your destination, here are some of our favorites apps for more quickly getting in tune with your new surroundings:
|Dark Sky – $3.99||This app focuses on combining a variety of weather sources to give you a hyperlocal forecast for the next few hours. It’ll tell you if rain is impending, generally down to your neighborhood level area, with forecasts as accurate as “rain starting in 8 minutes”. And as it uses your GPS to know your location, it moves with you – automatically giving you notifications if rain or storms are inbound as you travel. Great for letting you know to put the awnings in, close the windows, or if now is a good time to start off on a hike. We find it to be pretty darn accurate!|
|Weather Radio – $4.99||RVers are constantly changing locations, which can make it difficult to keep on top of the local weather. We love this app, as it uses our smartphones to auto change our current location and gives us critical alerts when severe weather is approaching. It also has built in radar maps, weather forecasts and more – it’s become our one-stop weather app. Of course we still keep a real weather radio on board for those time might not have internet access too.Alternative: The RedCross has a free Tornado App that is worthwhile having downloaded. In case of inclement weather, more information is always better. We have been in situations where one app was reporting faster than the other.|
|iRecycle – Free||Recylcing on the road can be difficult. One campground may only provide aluminum recycling, while the next has single sort for everything .. and then the next 5 stops you’re at offer none at all. This app can help locate recycling options nearby your current location. Sadly, it seems the Android version has been discontinued, and the iOS hasn’t been updated in a couple years. Their website no longer makes mention of the app – so we fear this app is not long for this world. Hopefully it’ll be recycled as something new?|
|Truma – Free||This German design company creates innovate RV appliance products – like water heaters and such. They have released a free app that has two nifty features we use every stop. The first is a leveling app – just plug in your RVs dimensions and use your smartphone to level your RV. And the second helps you align your RV with the sun – great for getting the shady side just right, or optimal positioning for solar energy harnessing.|
|Yelp – Free||This one is probably obvious, but just in case you haven’t found it yet, we’ll mention it again. Yelp is a giant database of restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, hair stylists and more – all with extensive user reviews. We use this app (and the website) often for tracking down the local favorites.|
|Coverage? – $2.99||This is an app we created, to solve our own need in knowing where around the USA we were most likely to be able to catch a sniff of cellular bandwidth. We use it to help plan our routes, overnight stops and always check the map before paying for a campground to make sure our carriers will work. Each carrier’s maps are stored offline, so even if we have no cell signal – we can find out which direction to head so that we can make our conference calls, or send an all important e-mail.We update the app generally quarterly, and maybe one day we’ll find some free time to get around to re-writing the app & map creation process so it can be ported to Android too (it’s a pretty major project).|
|State Lines – $4.99||We developed State Lines to fulfill our own desire for a single resource for over 50 laws and regulations that change as you cross state lines. We use it frequently as we cross state lines to find out if gas taxes will be cheaper in the next state, if we can overnight at rest areas, if we can buy beer in grocery stores on a Sunday and other such information. We update the app generally once a year with a refresh of the data. (As a side note, our app does not include the complex topic of Gun Laws, and we recommend the Legal Heat app for those who need that information.)We’re a bit behind on updating this app as we have to re-write it from the ground up to be approved by Apple (it’s been out that long!) – but most of the content is still relevant except for tax rates and cell phone/txting laws.|
There are a bunch of general purpose apps we use in the course of our travels, but these two round out our top RVing travel apps:
|RedBox – Free||We find Redbox to be a perfect companion for travelers who enjoy movies. You see their kiosks all over the place – grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores. For a $1.25/night (or$1.50 for Bluray) you can rent a new release movie. You return it to any Redbox kiosk. And their app makes it super easy to locate what is available nearby and reserve it. Just swipe your credit card, and the disc magically appears in your hands.|
|Find My Friends by Apple – Free||This is the app that we’re darn glad wasn’t around when we were teenagers – it’s the ‘I Spy On You’ app! You authorize trusted iPhone & iPad friends to be able to know your location, and you theirs. Our primary use for this is with fellow nomadic friends, so we can know if any of them are nearby. Oftentimes, we have flexibility to route out of our way to meetup with a friend. Don’t want to be visible? No worries, just disable location reporting.|
That’s our current list of our favorite RV travel essentials.