If you’re looking to make the most of your road trips, you need to know the best camping and road trip apps that will make or break your experience. Sure, there’s value in getting offline and just being outside, but it helps to know where you’re going and where the cheapest gas is on the way! If you’re looking to hit the open road, here are the eight best road trip and camping apps to download before you leave!
All of the apps mentioned here are available on Android and iOS.
The Must-Have Camping Apps
If you’re looking for one app that helps you find campgrounds, RV parks, and boondocking spots, there’s no better choice than The Dyrt, a free campground locating app that allows you to search for campgrounds anywhere in the US. In addition, you can edit your search to fit more specific needs like partial or full hookups, free campsites on BLM public lands, or Wi-Fi.
Pros: The free version of this app gives you everything that you need. The Dyrt Pro costs $35 a year but gives you access to discounted campsites and gear, as well as offline map access and a trip planner.
Cons: Offline map access is only available in the Pro version.
The undisputed king of apps for hiking trail recommendations is Alltrails. If you’re looking for a free way to lookup trails, see reviews from other hikers, and create plans for your time in national parks, states parks, or any wilderness area, this is the only choice.
You can use the free version quite effectively as a trip planner, but Alltrails Pro offers cool additional features. Like The Dyrt Pro, you can save maps offline. In addition, you get a lifeline feature where your loved ones can be notified of your location. If you use Alltrails Pro to navigate in real-time, you get notified should you stray from the established trail.
Pros: The best way to map out hikes and see reviews of which hikes are must-see. You can get a year’s pro membership for $30 or three years for $60. If you prefer physical maps, you can have custom maps printed.
Cons: Offline maps are only available for Pro users. The reviews are usually spot on, but occasionally you need to use discretion when reading them.
If you tend to do most of your camping in national parks or national forests, this may be more helpful than a third-party app like The Dyrt. While you may not expect form or functionality from an app created for the US federal government, it’s a very aesthetically pleasing and functional experience.
Pros: If you’re looking to stay in any National Park Service or National Forest Service campground, this is the most direct way to book those sites. The app is free to download.
Cons: If you like to camp in state parks or less-trafficked areas, this app won’t be useful to you.
While the name would suggest this is an overland-specific app, it offers functionalities for all travelers. While arguably the most popular boondocking and overland camping app, it’s essential to any road trippers’ arsenals. Not only can you look up overland options, should that be your desire, but you can look up campgrounds, showers, and pull-offs. You can also lookup more unique spots like sanitary dump stations, short-term parking, and even local medical services.
Pros: Whatever information you need to plan your road trip, you can find it on iOverlander. You can find reviews of places to stay and amenities from fellow road trippers.
Cons: While incredibly helpful, it isn’t a great standalone app. If you use it in conjunction with a road trip planning app, you’ll get the most out of iOverlander. Also, in testing on iOS, it can be a bit slow and buggy. Android users may not run into this problem, but iPhone users should prepare for the app to occasionally glitch.
The best road trip planning app, period. If you want to plan out a road trip with waypoint and points of interest, you can’t go wrong with the Roadtrippers app. You can input your car’s miles per gallon and get an approximate estimation of your total gas cost to plan the most cost-effective route. If you enjoy roadside attractions and oddities, this is the best app for finding the most unique spots along the way. You can search for campsites and RV stays as well as more traditional accommodations.
Pros: Free version is incredibly useful, even for extended road trips. The app is packed with information and planning capabilities.
Cons: The free version can handle up to seven waypoints. While that may be enough for most people, you’ll need to upgrade to Roadtrippers Plus should you need more than seven.
This app is the name brand as far as cost-friendly road tripping is concerned. Whether you want to plan your entire route around the cheapest gas or just need to find the next gas station, GasBuddy has you covered. GasBuddy offers a rewards program, although their free version is fairly modest.
Pros: If you want a straightforward, free app that shows you where the best gas prices are, GasBuddy can’t be beaten. If you road trip heavily, GasBuddy Premium costs $10 a month but saves you up to $0.40/gallon.
Cons: To get the most out of the rewards program, you’ll need to set up a ‘pay with GasBuddy’ account. If you don’t want to link any of your financial information to the app, you won’t get the best rewards out of the app.
While you could use Google Maps or Apple Maps, users tend to appreciate the extras available in the Waze app. For example, with features that allow users to report accidents or slowdowns in real-time, Waze constantly works to make sure you’re on the fastest route and provide detours when appropriate.
Pros: Arguably the best app for finding the fastest route and sharing your route with friends when driving in a caravan. Integrates with Spotify, Amazon Music, and a number of other music and podcast apps.
Cons: Does not integrate with Apple Music. iOS users may prefer their Apple maps app as it is better integrated to Siri and Apple Car Play.
If you don’t want to pay for a hiking GPS app, Gaia GPS is the pick. A well-known name in backcountry navigation, Gaia is arguably the most functional GPS app available for camping trips. Heavily customizable, you can see your elevation, current speed, coordinates, and even sunrise and sunset times with just a tap. With a very shallow learning curve, even first-time hikers can pick up this app easily.
Pros: The free version is a viable option and very user-friendly. Navigating from point to point is simple.
Cons: While there are 14 different map layers available, the free version only has one of those. Though the free layer is helpful, those who want to get more detailed maps or weather-focused layers will need to pay $40 per year.
Camping Apps Worth Mentioning
If you want a unique place to spend a night, consider the Harvest Hosts app. If you have a self-contained camper, van, or RV, you can spend the night at wineries, breweries, museums, farms, and other unique spots across the United States. While there is a yearly membership fee, your membership pays for itself if you travel at least semi-often.
Pros: For only $100 per year, the basic membership with Harvest Hosts can easily pay for itself after just a few stays. For an extra $39 a year, you can stay at golf courses and get access to spa facilities and restaurants.
Cons: You must be entirely self-contained. That means you need to be able to hold all waste and greywater, and only cook in your vehicle. Tent camping is not allowed. If you’re looking for glamping or tent site options, there are better choices.
If you want an app that gives you the most details about where the next restrooms, gas stations, and other important stops are, iExit is dedicated to just that. Also, if you have young children in tow, this app may be something you want to download should you need to make frequent stops.
Pros: A convenient all-in-one platform to give you the best information about what you can find on the upcoming exits. If you don’t want to have any guesswork in your stops, this is the app for you.
Cons: It’s a bit superfluous. With a combination of a maps app and just looking at the exit signs, this app isn’t truly necessary.
Spotify (or any other music streaming app) gets an honorable mention only because it tends to be taken for granted. Even the free version is better than nothing if you want a music and podcast player for long drives.
Pros: You probably already have it. If you don’t, for $10 a month, it’s a decent investment for long road trips.
Cons: If you don’t want to pay for a music player, the free version of Spotify isn’t exceptionally good. Apple Music is arguably a better service in terms of the number of songs available and how quickly they’re released on the platform.
So download a few, or all, of our recommended road trip apps, book a campervan and get planning your next epic road trip adventure.
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About the Author
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.