38 Must-Have Apps for Summer Camping and Road Trips

Curbed 5/21/2019

AAA World Article

Although we retreat to the great outdoors to escape from the daily grind of email and work, mindfully-applied technology can enhance our adventures. Fortunately, from trip planning to RV checklists to finding the perfect hiking trail—there’s an app for it all. Love campers and trailers? Come join our community group.

Unlike in say, 2012 or so, the problem today is that there are too many apps. Search for “best camping app” or “RV app” and an array of options will appear, all claiming to be better than the last. So we’ve done the hard work—read: downloaded and deleted a ton of apps—to determine the best of the best when it comes to road trips, RVs, and camping.

When possible, we tried to find apps that are available on both iOS and Android. We’ve also prioritized well-reviewed and proven apps over brand-new, untested ones. That being said, the user experience of apps can change quickly based on updates (or the lack thereof). So if you love something and don’t see it here, please let us know.

We’ve divided up this guide into eight different categories that can help you plan, navigate, and enjoy your road trip. Behold, the ultimate guide to the best RV and camping apps.

Planning

InRoute Route Planner
Details: Figuring out the best route can be challenging, but InRoute Planner makes it easy. The app lets you optimize waypoints for fastest time, or you can add up to 150 locations with a manual reorder. Interactive charts show elevation, curviness, and weather, as well as helpful info like the sunrise and sunset times. You can also export routes to Google maps, GPS devices, and Waze.

Cost: Free for the first 7 days, then it costs $3.99 monthly or $29.99 annually for Pro or $14.99 for Premium. Available on iOS

Roadtrippers
Details: If you’ve always wondered what stops to make during your road trip, Roadtrippers has the answer. The app helps you find quirky roadside attractions, scenic points, and parks, and you can save trips or places as you go. The free version only includes up to seven waypoints, which is a bummer, and content is best in more populated regions.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android

Google Trips
Details: Although Google Trips is also used for other types of travel, it can still be helpful for road trips. The app gathers all of your reservations from your emails in one place and provides day plans organized on a map from top travel destinations.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Roadside America
Details: If you can’t get enough of the weird attractions found on America’s highways, this is the app for you. You can expect reports, maps, and photos to under-the-radar destinations.

Cost: $2.99 on iOS, app includes one of seven US/Canada regions, with the option to purchase more.

A Packing List App
Details: When you camp a lot, packing is a major hassle. These apps makes it easy with the ability to create, reuse, and export packing lists. You can create and manage categories and even set up reminders and notifications so that you don’t forget essential items.

Cost: We like this app on iOS and this one for Android

Navigation

Google Maps
Details: If there’s any general app that’s best for navigation, Google Maps is it. With over 220 countries and territories, real-time GPS traffic and transit info, and info on the best bike routes, it’s a no brainer.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Waze
Details: Use this app for navigating traffic and getting real-time arrival estimates. It works best in or around big cities, and sometimes we compare routes and times to Google Maps for accuracy.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

CoPilot RV
Details: Designed specifically for RV owners, CoPilot provides reliable offline navigation that calculates your route according to your vehicle size and class (height, weight, and length). This helps to prevent dangerous run-ins with low bridges or propane-restricted tunnels.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android

On the Road

Gas Buddy
Details: Sometimes you need to know where the next gas station is, but it’s even more important to know which gas is cheapest. Gas Buddy helps you locate stations with the lowest-priced gas—no matter the type—and you can filter search results by location, brand, and amenities like restrooms.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Audible
Details: It can be hard to pass the time as the miles tick by, so use the Audible app for the world’s largest selection of audiobooks, audio shows, and original series.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Tune In Radio
Details: When you want to tune in to local radios or listen to NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL games on the go, use this app. It streams 100,000 radio stations for free.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Where to Camp

Reserve America
Details: Reserve America is the website that manages online campsite reservations for most state and local government park lands campgrounds in North America. You can search by location, dates, and site type. If you create an account, you can also save favorite campsites and organize your top choices with helpful category lists.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Recreation.gov
Details: Although not as seamless and easy to use as Reserve America, Recreation.gov is another crucial tool in booking campsites. That’s because sites on federal land are not bookable on Reserve America, instead you have to use recreation.gov.

Recreation.gov is the primary booking platform for national parks. Even if you find something on another platform, you will likely end up at Recreation.gov for booking. We like the map feature on this app and you can filter by amenities, site type, and availability. Pro tip: Most national parks release their campsites six months in advance. But if you missed the boat on Fourth of July, there are usually still reservations available in late August and September at even the busiest of national parks.

Cost: Get the app for free on iOS

AllStays
Details: Another comprehensive camping app that lets you book 30,000 campgrounds, RV parks, and even free parking lots to stay in—we’re looking at you, Walmart. The best part of the Allstays app is all the filters; adventurers can narrow their selections by types of camping, how much it costs, elevation, electric and water hookup availability, and even whether there is fishing, hiking, or a pool nearby. We’ve found that Allstays can be especially helpful for people with RVs who need to find campsites near RV dealers or dump stations.

Cost: Available as AllStays Pro on a web browser starting at $32.95 or on iOS for $9.99.

Hipcamp
Details: We’ve long used Hipcamp as a kind of Airbnb for camping, scoring great spots on private land during hard-to-book holiday weekends. Now Hipcamp has debuted a new app with more than 300,000 campsites, glamping accommodations, and RV sites. Filters make it easy to narrow searches, and a last-minute feature lets travelers book options for the same evening or upcoming weekend.

Cost: The just-launched app is only available for iOS, but it will soon be available for Android as well.

iOverlander
Details: This nonprofit, 100 percent volunteer project aims to help people around the world find places to stay on the road. The database includes camping, hotels, restaurants, mechanics, water, propane filling, and you can search the listings or browse everything on a map.

We find this app very useful, especially when we’re traveling off-the-grid or beyond the normal routes.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android devices

Harvest Hosts
Details: While other sites let you book a campsite without paying a membership fee, Harvest Host is a different model. A membership provides access to a network of more than 900 wineries, breweries, farms, and golf courses across the U.S. where RVers can visit and stay overnight for free. You need a self-contained RV as host locations do not provide any hookups or bathrooms, and you also can’t use tent-trailers, tents, or outdoor kitchens.

Okay with these rules? If so, you’ll get access to stunning, quiet spots that are miles away from traditional campsites.

Cost: $79 per year on iOS and Android

Campendium
Details: Developed by a team of full-time RV travelers, Campendium features 27,000 RV and tent campsites with plenty of reviews to help you figure out which site is best. Join other campers to see a ton of info on the campsite of your choosing, like photos, GPS coordinates, camping fees, and whether or not the spot has cell coverage. After you’re finished camping, log in to leave your own reviews and help future campers know where to go.

This is a great app to find campsites and see crowdsourced information, but note that you’ll use external links to actually book your site.

Cost: Available on iOS for free

USFS and BML Campgrounds
Details: You forgot to reserve a campsite and now you have nowhere to go on a busy holiday weekend. Instead of staying home, use this app to find more than 5,800 United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management campgrounds throughout the U.S.

Most of these campsites are either free or much cheaper than more developed campgrounds, and the app shows the campground, weather, elevation, and more.

Cost: $.99 for iOS users

The Dyrt
Details: We like The Dyrt because this streamlined app does a good job of helping you find and read reviews about campsites. You can filter by type of site but we also love that you can filter by how you get to the site—drive-in, walk-in, hike-in, and boat-in.

User-generated photos are helpful, and popular camping spots see a lot of reviews. To incentivize people to write reviews, The Dyrt offers prizes and money to campers.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

RV Parky
Details: Built by full-time RVers on the road, this is a comprehensive app that lets you see RV parks, campgrounds, rest areas, gas stations, and stores. The RV parks are either commercially owned, public parks, KOAs, Jellystone, or Casino properties.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

Tech and Help

Togo
Details: Need something to organize all the tasks associated with owning an RV? Togo fits the bill. The app works to track maintenance, find service centers, set up notifications, and create checklists while packing for a trip.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

Wi-Fi Finder
Details: If you’re planning to work on the road, knowing where you can find good Wi-Fi is key. This app has offline functionality so you can download maps for the places you’re traveling to. It also only features verified hotspots with info on the type of venue and speed.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android devices

Bubble Level
Details: Tired of setting up camp just to realize your RV isn’t level? Use this app and ensure a good night’s sleep simply by holding any of the phone’s four sides against an object.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android devices

Trails and Guides

REI Co-op National Parks Guide
Details: This top-notch app provides trail data and hike descriptions for the most-visited National Parks in the U.S., like Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and more. The data is available offline, and your phone uses its built-in GPS to show your location on maps. There’s also a curated list of family friendly hikes.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android devices

Lonely Planet
Details: If you’re traveling near or in a city, check out this Lonely Planet app for expert city guides that are easily downloaded. Maps and recommendations work offline and you can also bookmark your favorites.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android devices

Parks Canada
Details: Travel to our friendly neighbors to our north and you’ll be grateful for this app. New updates make the user experience much better, and the app lets you find parks, see trail maps, and explore campgrounds.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android devices

Oh Ranger
Details: While other apps feature just national parks, this app is a comprehensive database of every national, state, and local park in the U.S. You’ll be able to see where the parks are near you and what you can do—think hiking, horseback riding, or water sports—once you get there.

Cost: Free on iOS

All Trails
Details: This well-reviewed app gives you access to more than 75,000 hiking, backpacking, and running trails around the world. You can also filter by type of trails—think dog-friendly spots or trails suitable for kiddos.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

MTB Project
Details: Other apps may claim to show you mountain biking trails, but no app is better than this one. You’ll find offline maps, full GPS route info, elevation profiles, interactive features, photos, and topographical trail maps. The go-to app for bikers, everywhere.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

The Outbound Collective
Details: Enter in a location and the Outbound Collective provides an array of adventure-oriented activities. Local hot springs, under-the-radar hikes, and plenty of photos make this app a fun choice. We really appreciate the comprehensive, quirky filters; some of our favorites include bodysurfing, kiteboarding, yoga, cliff jumping, adult beverages, and wildflowers.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Weather and Safety

Accuweather
Details: Weather can make or break an adventure, and we think Accuweather does a good job of keeping you up-to-date on what storm is coming next.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

First Aid by American Red Cross
Details: Available in English or Spanish, this easy-to-use app provides step-by-step instructions to guide you through everyday first aid scenarios. Videos and animations are helpful, and there are also safety tips to help you prep for weather disasters.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

A Compass App
Details: Sometimes it’s the simple things in life, like having an accurate, life-saving compass when you need one.

Cost: We like this free one on Android and this one on iOS

A Survival Guide
Details: The first-aid app above can help you clean a wound, but what happens when you need to build a shelter or determine if a plant is poisonous? Download a survival guide app just in case.

Cost: We like this free one on Android and this one on iOS

Just for Fun

PeakFinder AR
Details: We can’t count the number of times we’ve looked up at a collection of peaks and wondered what we were looking at. Peak Finder makes it easy with more than 650,000 peaks and a 360 degree panorama display.

Cost: Free on iOS and Android

Night Sky
Details: This fun app lets you quickly identify stars, planets, constellations, and satellites simply by holding your phone to the sky.

Cost: Free on iOS

iNaturalist
Details: This app helps you identify plants and animals around you, with more than 400,000 items in the catalogue.

Cost: Free for iOS and Android


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