You have probably heard the saying, or even said it yourself, “there is an app for that.” And honestly, that is soooo true. When considering the amazing task of undertaking a road trip the statement still stands: there are some pretty awesome apps out there that will help make any road trip that much better.
Here are five apps that we have used time and time again and can confidently say made our lives, and our trips, that much easier, funner (yes not a real word but who cares) and just BETTER overall.
This is the app we use the most when looking for camping. Often times you can find some pretty sweet sites for free - you might just have to work a bit to get there. iOverlander is especially good in Western states, like California and Colorado. We used it a lot while living in our van in California, as well as during our motorcycle trip through the Southwest. This is truly our go-to camping app when planning a road trip, especially in our van (a lot of the sites are more van-focused). We have stayed in some pretty stellar spots too, including along the California coast, in the redwoods and out in the middle of nowhere Utah desert (where all you could hear were coyotes).
We were lucky enough to meet a super friendly girl while traveling through Ecuador who showed us this app, and our lives have not been the same since. Quite similar to Google Maps, but Maps.me has a lot more information available, especially trails, viewpoints, coffee shops, and even mountain peaks. But the BEST thing about it is that you can download the individual maps so that they are 100% available even when you are off-line (like when you are off hiking way back in the woods). We have used it so many times when out adventuring. Including, while hiking, jeeping, trail running and even when we were way out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico and wanted to know which dirt road to take while on our motorcycle trip. The best thing to do is download all the maps of the states you are planning to travel in beforehand, because they can take a bit of time to download.
Maybe one of the biggest drawbacks of road tripping is the amount of gas you need to buy (this is especially true if you are overlanding in a big vehicle, like, say a van). I don’t remember how we found GasBuddy, but either way, it has definitely saved us a good amount of money while traveling around the States. Just put in your location and it will show you where to find the cheapest gas in the area. One disclaimer is that the best-priced gas might not be the closest, especially when driving on interstates, so you might have to go a bit more out of your way. So sometimes you do have to decide whether it is worth the extra time to save a couple of dollars.
Maybe one of the coolest road trip planning apps out there, Roadtrippers focuses on the nitty-gritty of road tripping, as well as allows you to get an idea of what you will see along your way (find out how we plan our road trip routes here). For example, you can get an idea of how much gas will cost you for the entire trip, see what lodging options are available nearby, and find a list of the weird and wacky roadside attractions that you might come across and that you have to make a pitstop for. Another cool thing is you can save your trip and send it to others - like your van caravan buddies - so everyone can be on the same page and add in their own input on what is worth stopping for and what is not.
While iOverlander definitely has more free camping spots, Hipcamp has some really unique, fun options. From desert safari tents to high mountain tiny homes, you can find pretty much any type of lodging on their website. Plus, they are located in a lot of really cool spots - especially near National Parks and popular recreation areas. While there are a lot of permanent structures available, it also has some really nice camping (hence the name) sites available fore pretty cheap. All of them are on private land so you also have the option to talk to a real person if you have specific questions about the sites. At the same time, because it is on private property, make sure to follow their rules and be a good person.
As we explain it to people who don’t know about Hipcamp: it is like Airbnb but for outdoorsy people.
These 5 apps have definitely helped us step-up our road-tripping game, from finding better camping spots for the night to just getting an idea of the cool things in the area, to allowing us to find ways to really get off-the-beaten-path while out on the road. We highly recommend checking them out next time you start to plan your own epic adventure.