How did RV’ers function in the pre-Internet era?
I’m sure they did just fine. I know we did as we’re old enough to remember those days. Finding campgrounds using paper maps and guide books worked just fine, thank you very much. Even so, there’s no way we’d go out today without our trusty iPad and iPhone. The following is a list of apps we find most useful for our RV lifestyle. We paid for some, others are free and many do not require access to the Internet to work. If you know of others, we’d love to hear about them.
AllStays Camp and RV – $10. Some functionality not possible without Internet access.
AllStays Camp and RV is my favorite and most used RV app. It displays a map and various icons for all things RV-related near your current location or any location you specify. I use it primarily to find campgrounds but it can also be used to locate Walmarts (and whether or not they allow overnight stays), rest stops, dump stations, truck stops, RV repair shops, bridge heights and other stuff I can’t remember. It displays different icons for different types of campgrounds which I find useful when searching for state and national parks, BLM or Forest Preserves which we prefer over commercial campgrounds. By filtering the app to only show a single feature, such as “only campgrounds” or “only rest stops”, you can find these over a much wider area of the map. Internet access is only required if you want more detailed information on a particular icon such as campground reviews or a campsite’s website.
DishPointer AR Pro – $20. No Internet access required.
This app is a must if you have a portable satellite dish. It uses the camera on your iOS device to display your surroundings overlaid with icons representing satellites. By walking around with your iPhone or iPad pointed at the sky, you can locate a spot to place your satellite dish where it won’t be obstructed by trees or other obstacles. It’s preconfigured with hundreds of satellites but the app allows you to select only the ones used by your satellite provider.
Maplets – $3 but the Maps are free. Internet Access Not Required.
Maplets is great for finding your way not only around state and national parks but just about any government park or facility like subways and zoos. We use it in place of the paper maps you receive as you enter National and State parks. The Maplet app allows you to search for and download copies of the very same paper maps distributed by government entities. Thousands are available. Of course Internet access is required for downloading but once you have the maps you want, the Internet is no longer needed. Most maps are GPS enabled so you can see where you are as you drive (or walk) around whichever park you happen to be visiting.
DogGoes Dog Park Finder. $2. Some functionality not possible without Internet access.
Trixie and Eddie love this app. It shows all the dog parks and dog-friendly establishments near your current location or wherever you specify. It’s great for finding a restaurant with dog-friendly outdoor seating. It works without the Internet unless you want to read detailed reviews.
Where am I? Free – No internet required.
Every time we stop for the night, we’ve made it a habit to write down our exact location, such as the campground name and site number along with any emergency numbers provided by the campground host. We have an erasable white board installed just inside the door of our Airstream for this purpose. Should an emergency occur, we won’t be wasting time looking for the campground brochure or trying to remember where we are. Since there’s no address when we’re out boondocking, we use the “WhereAmIAt” app to determine our location in terms of latitude and longitude. There’s lots of free compass apps that display your current coordinates. We like “WhereAmIAt” since it displays coordinates in both decimal format and Degrees/Minutes/Seconds format, eg. 27.883694, -82.568607 versus 27°53’01.2984″, -082°34’06.9852″. We prefer the former since we find it easier to read this to others and enter into other apps like Google Maps. We may not always have cellphone reception, but at least we always know where we are.
GasBuddy – Free. Internet accessed required.
Every RV’er should know about Gas Buddy. It provides the latest fuel prices, including diesel, for most if not all the gas stations near your current location. Distance and driving directions are also provided. You’d be amazed at how much prices can vary within a short distance. Since prices can vary even greater from state to state, we also use GasBuddy to determine if we should fill up now or wait until we cross the state line.
Find My Friends – Free. Internet Access Required.
Find My Friends lets you and your family&friends share you current locations. It only works for those who have Apple devices and iCloud accounts. Some people may find this big-brother app a little creepy but since we live on the road full-time, we find it comforting that our family and close friends always know where we are.
Pinterest – Free. Internet accessed required.
Yes, Pinterest makes a great RV trip planning tool. As I browse the Internet, I’m always finding great places to visit or camp. To remember these finds, I use Pinterest to create a visual bookmark and file these under one of my Pinterest boards. You can also create secret boards if you don’t want to share your finds with other Pinterest users. For details on how I use Pinterest, see my other post here. To see my Pinterest Airstream Fulltiming board, click here.
- Yelp – Free. Internet access required. Most people use this for restaurant reviews but we also use it find grocery stores and other retailers.
- Campwhere – $5. Internet access not required. This app works a lot like the Allstays Camp & RV app but is limited to public campgrounds. It displays different icons for different types of parks, for example, national parks, state parks, BLM camps, etc. There have been cases where Campwhere displays a campground not shown on Allstays which is why we keep this app.
- Sanidumps – Free. Internet access required. This apps displays dump stations in your current vicinity along with any associated costs and restrictions. You can get this same info from Allstays but again, there are cases where Sanidumps displays dump stations not shown on Allstays.