The modern road trip is a beautiful intersect of traditional travel and technology. Having grown up in the 90’s, during the transition from analog to digital, I have an appreciation for both. The classic atlas will always be critical, but now there are so many great apps that make this lifestyle easier, it would be silly not to take advantage.
As full-time adventurers, we are on the road and in the wild every day. Vanlife is our new normal, and we don’t know how we would make it happen without the help of the five apps below. These apps help us find breathtaking free (and legal) campsites, cheap gas, new trails, and more. We use them every single day. They save time and effort—which are better placed in living our best life.
Maybe you have serious wanderlust and are itching to hit the road for good. Or perhaps you have rented a rig with Outdoorsy and you are planning your vacation. Either way, these 5 ingenious apps are sure to help you make the most out of your next adventure.
Now we can continue.
If I had to delete all apps from my phone except one, I would keep this lifeline. While you are on the road, showers, free campsites, and laundromats become crucial. Looking for a spot to boondock near White Sands National Monument? Need to find a place to dump your RV? Spilled your morning brew and laundry is a must? The iOverlander app gives the power to the people. It leverages a social forum to help you find everything you might need. Repair shops, campsites, laundromats, dump stations, food, potable water, the list goes on. People add new locations all the time, and update existing ones. iOverlander is sure to become a staple on the homepage of your iPhone.
Fuel, petrol, diesel, gas, the liquid-gold. You are not going to make it far without it. But sometimes prices vary a great deal from one side of the street to the next. Who has time to drive around and hope you find a decent price? That is no longer a concern. Gas Buddy shows you current prices and exact locations. It makes it so easy to compare. With real-time information, you can pop it open and make the call, no problem. Gas Buddy will save you time, money, and unnecessary stress. Stop arguing about where to fill up next. Get it, and the decision will be obvious.
Everyone uses Google, or at the very least knows what it is. It has become synonymous with “search.” Regardless of the topic, you can research your query. Why ask, when you can “Google it.” One of the largest and most successful companies in the world, they still never rest on their laurels. They pride themselves in always working to improve the user experience. Google Earth is like sitting at command center. You can hone in anywhere in the world, in three dimensions. Buildings and mountains come to life. Landscapes pop from the screen, making it feel like you are actually there. From finding a water hole for a dip, to soaring over Paris, Google Earth gives you access to the world. Go ahead, explore.
Ever show up ready to rock-and-roll but don’t know where to party? Not anymore. With All Trails you can roll up to your campsite and step outside, informed and ready to hike. All Trails is pretty much a database of just that, all the trails you could imagine. Whether it is a walkabout to stretch the legs after a long drive, or a 10 mile trail-run you desire, now you know where to go. Routes are rated easy, moderate, or hard. You get information like trail style—out and back or loop—as well as ample user photos and reviews. This is the app for the wanderers among us. And it is very simple to use, so pick it up even if you are just getting started out there.
When you need a more robust resource for your outdoor endeavors, turn to Gaia GPS. Detailed topographic maps help ensure you are on track in the backcountry. Gaia GPS features dynamic maps that are both interactive and informational. See a peak you are curious about? Tap it and up comes stats like elevation and history. Ready to plan your route? Select waypoints along the trail in “hike” mode and Gaia will trace the trail. It even shows your precise anticipated mileage. Then when you hit the trail, select “guide me” and Gaia GPS will give you turn-by-turn directions. Worried about service or battery life? Gaia GPS allows you to download area maps to use offline. This is the essential app for outdoor pursuits. Blending traditional maps with cutting edge tech so you can press onward, through the fog.