Today’s post is kind of a funny one. Funny in the sense that, unlike most posts, I’m sharing information that I have little experience with. And by little, I mean none. I use my cell phone for little more than texting, weather and getting directions from one place to the next. And those three features came with the phone. I know my way of traveling is vey much in the minority compared to others. Still, just because I don’t use apps for RVers doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate them and offer a few thoughts.
Context for these Apps for RVers
For decades, my sister has called me a grandma because of my often-antiquated ways. In fact, she’d throw a fit every time I pulled out my checkbook at the grocery store telling me I was holding up the line by taking the time to write a check when everybody else had progressed to debit cards. I’d probably still be writing checks today if so many places hadn’t stopped accepting them.
However, having admitted all that, I want to offer some context to these best apps for RVers so you don’t think I just randomly chose some and have no idea what I’m talking about. I have a vision of myself where I am super hip and technology-savvy and whip out my phone anytime someone has a question. Since I’m planning for that day, I have kept notes about apps for RVers and RV life. I’ve gotten ideas from other RVing blogs but mostly this list has come from talking to fellow RVers about the apps they swear by.
The good news for someone like me is that most of these apps for RVers can be accessed on a desktop. I like to do all my planning on my laptop with my notebook next to me. I plan my overnight stays, gas stops and adventure stops en route.
This list is divided into two categories: Places to Stay and RV Life. I also wanted to share information about a variety of adventure apps that RVers swear by but since those aren’t specific to RV life, those will be a separate post.
Places to Stay
My Favorite, Most-Used Resource
Campendium is my go-to site for finding campgrounds. In fact, every year when they fundraise to pay for the staff and site upkeep, I make a donation because I use it so frequently. Plus, the bonus in donating is, if your donation reaches a certain level, they remove the ads.
I like the Campendium search function. You can search categories such as free camping, state parks, campgrounds, etc. This app has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 so that alone speaks highly of the site. Be sure to sign up for their weekly email. It includes five 5-star rated campgrounds that week. It’s a great way to add to the list of places you might want to stay. The app is free.
The One I Hear Most RVers Swear By
This one I hear RVers talk about more than any other when searching for places to stay. Allstays, like Campendium, has filter options to make searching for the perfect place easier. Some of the handy filters includes alerts for low clearance tunnels as well as steep grades. Both can be super useful to RVers. The basic app is $9.99.
However, they also offer a “pro” version which is $34.95 annually. It was hard for me to get a handle on all the extras that come with the pro version but a few I discovered included RV/truck washes, propane places, elevation profiles. To justify the cost, I’m guessing the pro offers a lot more. If anyone has experience with Allstays, please share your impressions.
Another One RVers Love
Another free app that you hear about from RVers is RV Parky. In writing this article, I visited all the websites (if they have one) on my laptop computer. My first impression of RV Parky is quite positive. I plugged in a place I’m contemplating staying in a few months and two things popped up that I love. First, a map of the campground (which Campendium doesn’t offer). Second, the list of amenities. I love when the things I’m most interested in don’t involve an extensive search. And, maybe, best of all is that RV Parky has no ads on their site.
For the Cool and Unique Stays
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for very long then you won’t be at all surprised that I put Harvest Hosts on this list. Harvest Hosts, for those who don’t know, is a membership organization where you find wineries, breweries, museums, farms and other fun places to overnight with along your route. Staying with a Host is free though the expectation is that you’ll patronize their business. The app is free though you have to be a paid member to sign in to see the places to stay. At the bottom of this article, I provided a 15% off discount code on the $99 annual membership as I both work for Harvest Hosts and am an affiliate.
RV Life Apps
Best Gas Prices
Gas Buddy is an app I’ve talked about before including in my Cons of Solo RV Travel. It’ a great way to save money by ensuring you are getting the least expensive gas on the road. So, what does this have to do with a con of solo travel? Well, this and all the apps listed here, shouldn’t be used while you are driving. A solo traveler, therefore, can only look at her phone at rest stops or before starting the day’s travel.
Gas Buddy is free. You can also get their card to buy your gas. As I understand it, you swipe their card for savings but the card is linked to your bank account so the gas is paid as if you swiped a debit card. You earn points which, in turn, can be used for more savings.
The Around Me app locates you then tells you about all sorts of places and services nearby including banks, gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, medical facilities and bars. It costs $1.49 annually or you can spring for the no ads version for $2.99. This is one of the apps on this list that does not have a corresponding website. It is only accessed as a phone app.
I will offer one small caution with this app based on the reviews I read. It is not all-inclusive. Though tons of stuff will pop up, it isn’t absolutely everything. Several reviewers said they were sitting in front of a restaurant, for example, and that restaurant failed to show up. Even so, if you aren’t familiar with an area, it could prove to be a valuable tool.
An Alternative to What’s Nearby
If Around Me isn’t for you, also check out iExit. When you are driving, you can turn it on to get info about what you’ll find on each of the upcoming exits. As I understand it, the app also shows up-to-date gas prices at the stations you’ll find at each exit. It’s possible, this app could be a good substitute for Around Me and Gas Buddy. The app is free. There isn’t a desktop version.
One note: iExit’s developer also offers iExit Trucker. By its name you probably get that it’s the same as iExit but for truckers which might prove more help to the RVer since vehicle size would be taken into account.
Upload / Download
One frustrating aspect to RV life can be the continuous struggle for good internet. It’s an especially important aspect of RV life if you rely on internet for your work. While building an arsenal for getting the best internet on the road is a whole other topic, the Speedtest app helps you evaluate your camping spot. It’s free.
I’ve never used it as an app but it’s also available on the desktop and I run a test every time I get to a new location. I’ve mentioned a handy device as well as the app in a couple other posts, including one of my hacks’ posts and the one on remote working.
To boost the upload/download speed, I add a portable antenna to my hot spot which can make a big difference. You must have a connection and the antenna, then, enhances the connection. One note: a booster cannot create a connection where one doesn’t exist. I
n my tiny trailer you wouldn’t think which window I put the antenna in would matter since they are just feet from each other but it can make a big difference. So, I use Speedtest to get a reading on the upload/download speed with the antenna in each window to determine which is the best location for the antenna during my stay.
Rain, Sleet, Snow, Windy, Sunshine
There are tons of resources and gadgets for weather ranging from no cost to quite expensive. You can do your own research based on how much information you need in order to feel comfortable. Honestly, I just use the weather function that came with my phone.
However, for trip planning I love AccuWeather. This is a free app though, as with most other apps, I use the desktop version. The feature I particularly like is the predictive weather for up to a year in advance as well as the fact it keeps the data from recent past years.
So, what does that have to do with trip planning? As someone who isn’t a fan of overly hot weather, knowing the weather history of a place can help me determine the ideal month to visit. Or, at least, which months to avoid.
Speaking of weather, on rare occasions, I’ve taken to twitter to get the weather. Does that sound like an unusual resource? It is and it isn’t. During a couple of hurricanes while in Alabama, twitter users gave me a preview of what to expect as I followed those going through the storm system ahead of me. I found it useful in deciding whether or not to go into the campground’s shelter. To use this, you’ll need to search by a hashtag or find a local television station or the national weather organization and get your updates by visiting their twitter page.
When the Tanks Are Full
This app, I suspect, is most useful to the boondocking RVer. Those at campgrounds with hookups probably aren’t in need of finding places to empty tanks and fill up on fresh water. I noticed there are several apps with similar names but the one I’ve heard most about and has lots of users and decent reviews is called RV Dump Stations.
The app boasts places to dump your tanks throughout the US. It doesn’t have website and costs 99 cents. Despite the inexpensive price, before you purchase, you might want to see if another app you already have can serve the purpose. For example, I know Campendium has dump stations on their site.
Any Apps for RVers to Add?
Do you have any apps you’d like to add to the best apps for RVers? I know many of the adventure apps are also considered a must for RVers but we’ll get to those in another post. Would love to know your thoughts.
Harvest Hosts Discount
Go to the Harvest Hosts website for details on the program. And, if you’d like to become a member, click HERE to get 15% off the $99 annual membership fee. The discount code is HHFRIENDS15 but you’ll also see it on a banner across the top of the page.
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