Folks have been motorhoming and boondocking along the highways, byways, and backroads of America for generations, but there’s no question the current vanlife craze has introduced the concept to a wider audience than ever. And these days, campervan nomads and RVers have access to a veritable treasure trove of useful on-the-go information thanks to a slew of fine apps and websites.
In this article, we’ll spotlight 19 of the best RVing apps covering everything from trip-planning and routing to social-media sharing and stargazing.
Tracking down good campsites is, no surprise, at the heart of RV life. Here are some great resources for finding places to bed down on the road.
Launched by full-time RVers and stocked with crowdsourced info, the free Campendium app collates details on RV parks, established campgrounds and dispersed campsites on federal and state lands, and other road-trip and vanlife camping destinations (including free ones). Find user reviews, photos, availability of cell coverage, and much more.
Non-profit and mostly volunteer-run, iOverlander is a free mapping website and app (for Android and iOS) collecting useful info and user reviews on campgrounds, water and propane sources, showers, mechanics, and more—not only for the U.S., but all around the world. This definitely makes it another of the best apps for RVing and vanlifing, not least those keen on international explorations.
Hundreds of thousands of campgrounds, free campsites, glamping setups, and other overnighting destinations are logged in The Dyrt’s extensive database, reinforced with user-submitted reviews and photos. You can reserve campsites and cabins through the website or the app. Take advantage the plenty-helpful free version of The Dyrt, or pay for Pro service with such perks as offline-available maps.
These platforms merged last year, while continuing to offer their own distinct RVing experiences now encompassing more than 5,400 locations. A Harvest Hosts membership allows you to stay overnight for free at a wide variety of unique settings—farms, wineries, museums, and more—with the expectation of making a purchase to help support these local businesses. Boondockers Welcome is specially catered to RVers and vanlifers, comprising a database of hosts who provide multi-night stays, hookups, and other resources. These include locations in urban areas, making Boondockers Welcome a great choice for those looking to explore cities during their travels.
Partnering with such federal agencies as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Recreation.gov allows you to book campsites and other lodgings at thousands of destinations across the country, among them hugely popular and iconic national parks and monuments. Besides campground info and bookings, the website (and iOS/Android app) lets you reserve a wealth of different guided tours and recreational activities, and even rent RVs, campervans, trailers and gear.
Both a website and one of the best iPhone apps for RVing, AllStays includes more than 37,000 campgrounds in its inventory: from private and commercial operations to federal, state, and municipal facilities. It also can steer you to free overnight parking—for example, at certain Walmarts allowing RVers to boondock in their parking lots—and to the nearest rest station, while clueing you into low clearances and other potential travel issues on your route. A bevy of filters to narrow your search is one of the chief attractions of this app, which includes a premium version called AllStays Pro.
The KOA (Kampgrounds of America) mobile app, available for iOS and Android, provides a massive amount of information on the nearly 500 KOA campgrounds scattered across the U.S. and Canada. You can search for campgrounds as you plan your itinerary, or find them in real-time based on where you’re at. Book campsites or cabins over the app, filter for particular features such as swimming pools, and obtain notifications regarding road closures, severe weather, and other emergency alerts for given locations. There’s offline functionality as well.
How about when you’re in camp, setting up for a night (or seven)? Here are some of the best RVing apps for campground living!
Get all the details on the Internet connection at a particular campsite—including speed, streaming capability, and more—via the SpeedTest app, offered on Apple and Google devices. This is a great resource for digital nomads and other vanlifers who are working on the road—or just looking to connect with family, friends, or followers while on-the-go.
Relaxing alongside your campervan or RV, you can tour the heavens above via the stargazing app SkyView Lite, available for Apple and Google operating systems. Point your device at that blazing night sky, and get to know stars, constellations, planets, and zinging-along satellites and the International Space Station. This is the free version of the SkyView app, with options to upgrade for a larger celestial database and other features.
Finding your way safely and efficiently is essential as an RVer or vandweller. Read on for some super-handy digital tools on that navigational front!
One of the best free apps for navigation, Google Maps helps with route-finding in more than 200 countries and territories. Besides basic road layouts, the app clues you into real-time traffic conditions, which can be a lifesaver—not least when negotiating construction zones or big metro areas.
The RV LIFE app—“designed by RVers, for RVers” and available through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store—turns your phone into a GPS, with offline functionality an option through a subscription. RV LIFE routes your way in completely custom fashion based on the height, weight, and other characteristics of your chosen rig, and besides the navigational information it also includes reviews and other details on more than 25,000 campgrounds and many thousands of communities.
The perfect resource for planning, well, a road trip—and one of the best apps to find areas of interest while RVing—Roadtrippers (which works for Apple and Google devices) serves up a huge amount of information on attractions, restaurants, lodging, and more while customizing travel routes tailored to the dimensions of your RV. Other resources include offline maps and life traffic conditions. There’s a free version as well as a paid enhanced package (Roadtrippers Plus).
Here are a couple of other standout apps providing vital information as you tool along on the blacktop (or the gravel).
The Gas Buddy app (free for iOS/Android) helps you avoid getting stranded on the roadside with an empty tank—or getting gouged at the pump: It’ll not only show you the closest gas stations to your location, but also where to find the cheapest fuel. Gas Buddy also displays useful information on particular services offered at gas stations.
Stay abreast of the forecast and dodge hailstorms, tornadoes, blizzards, and other hazardous weather with AccuWeather, another of the free apps for Google and Apple on this list. Get minute-by-minute hyperlocal forecasts, air-quality information, and other updated weather details and scan the radar so you know where the skies are on the hairy side of things.
From finding primo outdoor-recreation opportunities to dazzling the folks back home with the scenery and thrills you’re experiencing, the following apps round out our list with plenty of utility out on the road.
AllTrails provides maps, descriptions, photos, and updated user reviews for hiking and biking trails all across the country: an outstanding resource for getting active and exploring the natural world while vanlifing or RVing it around.
The sheer amount and diversity of useful information uploaded to YouTube are staggering (and, yes, it sits alongside all of the time-wasting and decidedly nonessential goofiness on there as well). From tips on RV or campervan maintenance to camping hacks and video trail reviews, the free YouTube app has a lot to offer travelers of both the full-time and vacationer variety.
Update friends and family on your travels while gleaning essential info on businesses and destinations via the Facebook app.
The Instagram app is another hugely popular way to share photos and dispatches about your (naturally amazing) RVing/vanlife adventures, and, like Facebook, doubles as another way to get useful updates on business hours and events.
Get provisions, vehicle parts, camping gear, and other essentials via Amazon before and during your road odyssey.
Don’t forget to take advantage of all of the other tips and primers concerning RV and campervan travel we offer here on the Mountain House blog, including overviews of essential vanlife gadgets and larders.
And speaking of larders, spend some quality time with our Mountain House meal and ingredients collection so you’re all stocked up for hitting that open road!