After good tires, plentiful gas, and a smooth engine, your smartphone is you best travel tool. Nevertheless, it’s only as good as your wi-fi coverage—and your apps. Let’s talk about those apps. There’s no need to get every app created and overtax your coverage plan and storage (although a cloud connection can save you lots on the latter!) RVers are great about sharing information, and we’ve learned how to make the most of our advantages. Some of the apps you already know: Google Maps, Yelp, National Park Service, and Google Translate (for you international adventurers). Even more RV-specific resources will be at your fingertips with these apps:
Gas Buddy, for Android and iPhone, will keep you in touch with current gas prices in the US and Canada. With user-controlled filters, you can find specific brands or warehouse stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club. The website also hosts a trip planner, a bevy of tools such as maps, an outage tracker, fuel trends, and a blog. The app is free and designed for smart phones.
For everything from boondocking to hiking trails to cell coverage by mobile plan, Gaia GPS allows you to download maps to use without cell service and is great for exploring wild areas. This app is available through an annual subscription of $40 (before the first-year discount). Topographic maps and street maps for printing, downloading and other service are part of the subscription.
The highly recommended Allstays Camp & RV has a nominal $10 fee, but you’ll find every possible camping place listed, along with all the details you could need to make the best decision. Essential information is available even without wi-fi. Overnight parking, free overnighting, RV services and dealers, dump stations, contact information … well, this barely touches on all the information included. And the website statement clarifies the philosophy of the creators: “The app is NOT a ‘trip planner.’ We believe in wandering and not sticking to set schedules.” The heart of RVing!
iOverlander is a free, nonprofit, volunteer-run organization that collates a wide range of crucial information. Except for the map, the information is available offline, and reviewing and updating by users is highly encouraged. Use this in conjunction with your downloaded maps or a Garmin GPS (specifically the Garmin RV 780, 785, and the Garmin Overlander) with preloaded locations. Before you download, look over the FAQs, as the more users who contribute, the more useful the app is. Registration is free and required.
Weather is a big part of being prepared as a responsible RVer. One of best apps for this is AccuWeather, with filters to set for your particular needs. Air quality? Precipitation intensity? Current alerts and radar maps? All here. You customize it for information at a glance. ‘Nuf said.
Working as you go? Save yourself some time with Speed Test. This tells you where the best up- or download speed lives, especially with wi-fi cafes and other public access. If you are publishing videos or uploading blogs or sending your work back to the office, this app will prove invaluable. We might mention that this is also useful at your stuck-to-the-ground home.
Instagram and Twitter both can keep you aware of everything from bad weather, road conditions, what to do and what to eat in the locations you find yourself. Twitter has severe weather accounts and gives you the immediacy of information on the spot. Instagram is popular with many RVers and can show you not only where to go or what to eat, but also what it looks like when you get there.
Staying Off the Grid
Campendium and Boondockers Welcome offer many of the same details and advantages as some of the other apps above. Here’s the difference: Campendium has reviews, á la Yelp, left by RVers to get a real-life view of the sites you may want to visit. It includes free overnight parking sites. Boondockers Welcome has an added twist. Think free AirBnB for RVers. Private property owners offer overnight camping on their property—for free. A membership fee of $50 a year covers one-to-three-night stays at over 2700 hosts, some in other countries.
Taking a Break
Without a doubt, Riverbound Custom Storage & RV Park is the best home-away-from-home offering large indoor storage to be a man cave—or family hangout—complete with a playground, pool, laundromat, café, store, pet park, sports, all located deliciously close to waterways, national parks, and amazing landscapes. Even better, all those apps will work fine. Riverbound is a Smart Park, with its own dedicated wi-fi service tower and consistent high-speed connection for the community. Live, work, and play at Riverbound.