When living on the road, you need to have all the necessities you need to keep going. Starting your van life journey can also be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of challenges that you may encounter during your life on the road. It can be challenging to find the right parking spots or the nearest toilet in your area. So, you need the proper app to make your life easier on the road.
1. Roadtrippers: Great for General Road Trip Recommendations
Roadtrippers are great for general road trip recommendations. When inputting your start, end post, and preferences, the app will generate a travel route for you to follow. You can save your preferences in case you want to have the same route on your future road trip. You can also review the place you end up visiting and suggest other van lifers’ locations.
This app is pretty similar to Tripadvisor, where you can get restaurants, hotels, bars, entertainment, culture, and gas that you may need during your journey on the road. Roadtrippers is a great app that you can use to help identify unique attractions that you can find in the area.
You can plan out your trip by creating a route and finding various attractions or places along the way. You can even add sightseeing spots along the way. This app is excellent for someone who loves to soak in as much culture as they can. Now, the only downside to this app is it can only generate one route per trip. However, there are many interesting ways how to get from point A to point B.
Now, Roadtrippers is available on both iOS and Android for free. However, they do have a paid version which is the Plus version. You will have access to extra features such as offline navigation and more waypoints. The Plus version costs $6.99 a month or $29.99 a year.
2. iOverlander: Good for Finding Appealing Destinations
iOverlander is designed for road trippers and is great for those who are living their lives on the road. It is based on your GPS location and is great for finding appealing destinations in your area. The app will provide information on nearby campsites, bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and other amenities you may need while you are on the road.
This app also has a community of overlanders where you can find descriptions and reviews of the locations that they have been to. You can even add new places that you have discovered and want to share with other van lifers on the iOverlander website. The iOverlander app is similar to Campedium, which I will discuss below.
If you are stuck in the middle of the night and can’t find the right place to park, iOverlander is also the best app you can use. It is excellent for finding overnight parking, and it also focuses on the stealth aspect of camping rather than finding campsites. A great app that you can use when you are traveling around the city.
The best thing about this app is it will work even if you do not have a strong signal which can be a huge benefit to van lifers. The only downside of the app is it can get slow or clunky at times, but it does overcome that. The app is available on both iOS and Android for free.
3. Waze: A Great Companion While You Are Driving
Waze is a pretty popular navigation app that you can have on your phone. It can provide real-time, community-based recommendations for traffic. This means you can avoid any traffic that may be on your route, and it will reroute you to a different route without any traffic. It can also provide directions in all parts of the world.
You will get alerts of police checks, accidents, or any other road hazards that may be on your preferred route. It can also provide gas prices along the way and also has an active community of Waze editors to improve the data. You can use this app anywhere, making it great for navigation. The Waze app is available on iOS and Android for free.
4. Harvest Host: Offer Free Parking With Amazing Views
Harvest Host is an app that helps you find vineyards, breweries, distilleries, orchards, and other farms that allow free parking for vans. You can find free spots with the assumption that you will be a patron of their businesses. There are about 1443 plus stunning locations without camping fees that you can find in this app.
There are a couple of rules that you need to follow when going to the location. Tents are not allowed, and you need to have a toilet, and water tank, as well, as inside cooking facilities in your van. Like any other app, the Harvest Host app also has a community you can participate in.
The community has a few rules that you need to follow as well. Outdoor kitchens or tents of any kind are not allowed. Overnight stays are only limited to one night. Host locations do not provide hookups or services such as bathrooms. As mentioned above, you need to have your own toilet in your van. Make sure to bring proof of membership and registration upon your arrival. Also, you need to maintain liability insurance on your vehicle, and bringing proof of insurance must also be carried.
Harvest Host is the perfect app for families, especially when you are looking for a peaceful location to stay overnight. This is a great escape from swamp-crowded parking lots that you usually see around the city. Aside from vineyards, breweries, etc., you can also have access to stay in well-rated hotels.
The membership fee for the Harvest Host is $79, which can be a bit expensive. However, if you have the budget, why not give yourself some credit and spend it on relaxation.
5. The Vanlife App: Inclusive Access to the Vanlife Community
The Vanlife App is started with van lifers and van lifers in mind. People who have created this app wanted to have an inclusive app for the van life community to bring them closer together. The app includes free camping sites, dump stations, and any necessity that you need for your van life. You can find laundromats and showers as well when using this app.
You can filter your preferences by vehicle type, Wi-Fi availability, handicap accessibility, cell phone services, and so much more. The Vanlife App is more than just a resources app but a way to connect to other van lifers so you can have access to the community when using this app. You can see other people in your area who are using the app, which can be turned off if you are not comfortable.
You can also message other van lifers and add them as a connection on the app. We all know that life can be lonely if you are alone on the road. This app is the best way to have great communication or social life with other van lifers on the road. Now, the only downside of this app is it won’t work if you do not have cell service.
Now, The Vanlife App never stops making updates on the app to make it better for van life users. The Property Share feature is one of the new features that developers have created on the app. It is considered a virtual marketplace for van lifers to connect with property hosts. This feature is added because of the pandemic that we are experiencing.
The Property Share feature supports guest messaging and property locations. It appears on the map as a pin near the property but not the exact location. You can expect more features to come in the future that van lifers can take advantage of. The Vanlife App is free for both iOS and Android.
6. Gas Buddy: Best App for Cheap Gas
We all know that fuel can be expensive during your life on the road. Most of your money spent while living on the road goes to gas expenses. About $300 to $400 a month goes to the gas money. Gas Buddy is here to help you find the cheapest fuel possible. It can be disappointing when you find another gas station down the road that is cheaper, knowing that you can save more money.
Gas Buddy is one of the top van life apps that people use for saving money. It helps you find the best gas or diesel prices in your area. This app can be very useful for different van lifers. As part of the Gas Buddy community, you can update the price when it is not correct in the app. You can also register for a Gas Buddy card that you can use to fill up your tank.
You can also find a cost calculator so that you can manage your budget properly. You can have the savings that you need on the go. Gas Buddy is available on iOS and Android for free.
7. AllTrails: Great for the Outdoorsy People
AllTrails is the best part of van life since you spend most of your hours outdoors. Though not all van lifers like to hike, it is a popular hobby. You can use this app to find the best hike near your area. You can filter your hike search by difficulty, views, and elevation. You can also filter dog-friendly trails, which can be hard to find, especially when you don’t know the area.
With AllTrails, you can take the guesswork out of finding the right trails for you. This app is considered to be one of the best apps that you can have while living your life on the road. You can find about 100,000 plus trails available for van lifers. The beauty of nature shouldn’t be hard to find, so AllTrails is here to ensure that you can have great views with just a few taps away.
It is best to know the details before you hit the road. You can browse hand-curated trail maps where you can view reviews, photos, and activity recordings. There have been a lot of contributions by hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners, and so much more. There are also directions available to the trail that you want to visit.
If you find a trail that you deemed your favorite, you can save this on the app. You can even customize the maps for your own personalization. Now, the app is available for free, where you can take advantage of different features. You can keep track of your favorite trails, record and share your activity, and follow your friends for inspiration. You can create and share custom maps and also be a part of the AllTrails community.
Now, you can also upgrade your AllTrails app to a Pro account for $2.50 a month. You can get the same benefits as the same account and added features as well. You can download maps for offline navigation and never miss a turn with the off-route notification. Know what to expect with real-time overlays and print your own maps for backup.
With the Pro account, you can experience an ad-free app and stay safe with a Lifeline feature. You can also help create a healthier planet when going Pro on your account. You will be billed annually, where you will initially be charged $29.99. Then, you would need to renew your membership a year after the initial charge.
8. RVParky: Find the Best Parking Area
When it comes to finding the best parking spots in the area, it can be a bit challenging to find. RVParky covers all of the RV parks, campgrounds, rest areas, gas stations, stores, and other places where you can stop for the night. There is a wide range of park types available on this app, including public and commercially owned parks. You can also find military camps and KOA (Kamp Groups of America).
There are over 55 communities available on the app. You can get information on RV and van-friendly stores such as camping world or Walmart. Parking spots on the app are tagged, and you can see reviews as well as pictures. Now, this app is only available in North America (USA, Canada, and Mexico).
When it comes to this app, you can also be a host if you own and manage a park. You can add pictures, reply to reviews, and have free website hosting. You can also manage listing and online reservations. The app is available for both iOS and Android free of charge.
9. Yelp: References for Reviews and Different Services
Yelp is a pretty well-known platform for reviews and various services. It includes everything from auto mechanics to groceries to dentists. Yelp is one of the most robust review sites in the world. You can find recommendations for almost everything that you may need on the road.
However, you need to remember that most of the reviews come from North America and Europe. So, if you are not traveling in these countries, it may not be a reliable source. You can get descriptive reviews of the different spots that other van lifers have tried, such as breakfast spots and other services.
Yelp is the best way to find reviews that are detailed and honest. This app is available for both iOS and Android free of charge.
10. Journey: Can Be Your Diary On the Road
Now, Journey may not be a service app, but it will serve as your diary on the road. It is great for those who prefer digital formats rather than pen and paper. It is a password-protected app where you can create entries on your phone, tablet, or even on your laptop. Aside from journal entries, you can also tag locations on the map, which is great for saving memories that you have of a particular place.
You can add images, audio, and videos to each of your entries. You can also export them to other diaries that you may have or note-taking platforms such as Diaro, Daylio, Evernote, and DayOne. The beautiful design is what stands out with this app which is a crucial aspect for creativity or introspective pursuit.
It also has a mood chart that shows your moods over the past 30 days. You can also take advantage of all the features it offers with the Premium account. Having Journey in your list of apps can provide you with a healthier and happier mind while living your life on the road alone.
The Journey app is available on Android, iOS / iPad OS, macOS (Catalina & Big Sur), macOS (Classic), Windows (64-bit), Windows (32-bit), and Linux devices. As mentioned above, it is a free app but can be upgraded for $2.49 a month, which will be charged yearly and can be canceled anytime.
11. HipCamp: Considered as the Airbnb of Van Lifers
HipCamp is the Airbnb of van lifers. It can reserve specialized camping or parking opportunities that you may need on private properties. You can read the reviews from other users, and the listings will let you know if there are hookups or any other related amenities you may need.
You can discover different and great spots near you. Aside from that, you can see pet-friendly areas, which can be challenging to find. HipCamp has its own standards that van life users have to follow. So, before going to the spot that you have chosen, you need to review the host’s listings, details, rules, and welcome information.
With HipCamp, you can communicate with hosts and adjust your booking or need any information about the listing or property. You can also keep the direction handy but don’t recommend using GPS; instead, the host will provide detailed directions on how to access their property.
You need to read the arrival instructions properly, which can be found on the trip confirmation page. Make sure to download your host’s contact information in advance because not all of the HipCamp destinations have good cell reception. You also need to verify your group size to the host and know your vehicle’s limits. There are some HipCamp properties that are only accessible via rough roads.
The road will be included in the listing description that has been provided to you. Always remember to be respectful, read and follow the rules, and limit noises. Hosts usually set quiet hours so that van lifers can respect others and everyone can enjoy their stay. Also, you need to be mindful of the local community.
Adhere to their speed limits and be mindful of neighbors in the area. Dispose of any garbage, recycling, and compost responsibly. The same thing goes for your human waste. If you have pets, make sure to control them from causing any harm. Ensure to review and follow the on or off-leash policies in each property.
HipCamp is available on both iOS and Android free of charge.
12. Open Signal: Great for Those Working on the Road
Open Signal is great for van lifers who are working while living their life on the road. It is great for those who have their own Wi-Fi to use. You can check the cell signal of the place that you are planning to go to. It shows you the cell phone towers and cell coverage on the map. It is a great app to have when you are planning your trip ahead of time.
There’s no need to worry about getting into an epic camp only to find out that there’s no signal. It is also great for those who are alone and aren’t comfortable being alone in a particular area. Now, the maps aren’t perfect, but it is a great way to understand what you are driving into.
It will help you accurately measure your mobile network and provide the actual speed as well as a video experience. The Open Signal app is free for both iOS and Android.
13. Wi-Fi Finder: Always Stay Connected
Wi-Fi Finder is the app for those van lifers who don’t have Wi-Fi. There are some people who use phones or have hotspot devices, but they can run out of data anytime. With Wi-Fi Finder, you can find free Wi-Fi places on the road, which can come in handy. You can find places that offer free Wi-Fi to customers, such as Starbucks, grocery stores, McDonald’s, libraries, and so much more.
If you are unfamiliar with the area, this app will be your best weapon. It allows you to search for nearby Wi-Fi by putting the location on the app to see where free Wi-Fi is available. If you are rushing or planning your trip, make sure you have the Wi-Fi Finder app ready. When you have this app, you don’t need to worry about roaming charges or any additional costs.
You can find internet connections all over the world. All you need to do is type the address and find the Wi-Fi cafes, restaurants, airports, or any other place. You can enjoy browsing and get connected with your family anytime. You save places for future use and save money at the same time. Now, the only downside to this app is you will be using your GPS continuously, running in the background, which can dramatically decrease your battery life.
The app is simple, where you can search using the address, city, country, and place name. You can also add new hotspots to help other van lifers on the road. The app is free for both iOS and Android devices.
14. Flush: The Toilet Finder You Need
It can get pretty annoying to find toilets when you really have to go. Flush is an app that you can rely on if you do not have portable toilets in your van. You can find the nearest public restroom in your area. The app is straightforward and easy to understand. You can find directions to arrive at the location quickly.
When using Flush through an iPhone, it will lead you to iMaps, and when you are using an Android device, it will lead you to Google Maps. You can locate toilets anywhere in the world since Flush has a database of 200,000 bathrooms and is continuously increasing. It also has a beautiful interface and design that you can appreciate.
The best part about Flush is it works even when you are offline. No need to worry about connecting to the internet to find the restroom that you need. It has a quick direction button where you can easily get directions to a restroom as quickly as possible. Aside from that, the app will let you know if a bathroom has a fee or requires a key.
It can also provide disabled or accessibility access, which can be pretty handy. The Flush app is available on both iOS and Android free of charge. With this app, you don’t need to hold it in anymore!
15. The Dyrt: Reviews and Discount Places to Stay
The Dyrt provides detailed reviews and discounts on places to stay. This app has listings of 40,000 plus campsites around the country that you can take advantage of. It comes with reviews, tips, videos, and photos from other people who were able to stay in the said place. The listings include contact information and average rating, which can help you to decide whether to go or not.
You filter the categories by facilities, proximity, and whether it has van spaces or not. Aside from that, you can also save your favorite spots on the app, just like the other apps mentioned above. With the pro membership, you can have access to exclusive discounts plus free seen days trial.
The Dyrt is perfect for planning your camping road trips with the trip planner included in the pro membership. You can also have access to free dispersed camping with map layers and use the app even though there’s no internet connection. This app also offers camping and gear equipment, which you’ll have access to tons of discounts with the pro membership.
Lastly, you can get rid of the company’s booking processing fee when you have the pro membership. It costs $35.99 a year for the pro membership, but you can also have access to The Dyrt for free on both iOS and Android if you don’t have the budget.
16. Campendium: Find the Best Places to Camp
Campendium is great when you are in the BLM land, National Forest Land, or National Parks. Now, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect places to camp. This app relies on users to input the best places to camp that other people have experienced. It has reviews on car, van, or RV access spots. You can also find water, dump stations, propane, and other amenities that you may need.
You can also find water, dump stations, propane, and other amenities you may need with the Campendium app. It also offers locations where you can find free camping, such as boondocking, primitive camping, dry camping, and dispersed camping.
Now, to find overnight camping, all you need to do is use the text search to zoom into the area that you are interested in. Select categories “parking lot,” “street parking,” and “rest area.” The spots I’ve mentioned are marked with a purple (“P”) on the map. Lastly, select the price that you prefer or “Free.”
The Campendium app adds functionality to inform and support users impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The app is great at finding a safe place for you to stay and isolate yourself during these trying times. The app is available on both iOS and Android free of charge.
Each app serves its purpose while you are living your life on the road. Having two or three of them installed on your device is the perfect way to have a more organized and efficient road journey. Beginning your life on the road can be overwhelming, especially when there’s a current pandemic. When you have the right vanlife apps on your devices, you can have peace of mind knowing you know where you can park and stay overnight. If you want to know about the van life essentials you need to bring, here is an article that I have written for you.