Earlier this year on our road trip across America I discovered several apps I’d never heard of before. These apps became things we’d use every single day on our road trip. They helped us plan our road trip, save money, make long drive days (like that 6 hour highway drive from Florida, through Alabama and Mississippi to Louisiana) a little more interesting and found us free places to sleep. Basically these road trip apps became some of the most used apps on my phone; even more than instagram.
Whilst these apps are mainly focused for road trips in America, many of them are useful across the world. So, where ever you’re road tripping, make sure to add these apps to your phone!
iOverlander was one of the roadtrip apps we used pretty much every day during our road trip across the USA. It’s a free app and helps road trippers find places to sleep. It’s aimed primarily at campers, or vanlifers, so don’t expect a list of hotels on here (although there are some).
What you will find are campsites, informal campsites (places you are allowed to stay but they’re not set up as an official campsite e.g. a Walmart carpark), wild camping spots and some information on customs and border crossings and facilities such as waste dump for those in bigger camper vans and RVs and showers (ps. for more info on how to shower when you live in a van check this post out!).
When using iOverlander it’s always a good idea to check out when the most recent checkin was especially when you’re heading to an informal campsite or wild camping post. If it’s been a few years since someone was last reported to have been there bear in mind that this place may no longer exist.
There are several other similar apps such as RVParky, but iOverlander was the most reliable one for us.
Alongside iOverlander we used Gas Buddy loads! Gas Buddy helps you find cheap fuel in the USA, Canada and Australia. The prices are updated fairly regularly and, as with iOverlander, make sure to see when the gas prices were last updated.
We found that when a gas station’s prices hadn’t been updated in over 24 hours it probably wasn’t the current price (usually the current price was higher). Whilst the prices weren’t accurate 100% of the time we definitely saved a lot of money throughout the entire three month road trip by using this app. It helped direct us to gas stations we never would have known existed. So, thank you Gas Buddy!
Since I didn’t want to buy a load of books while we were living in our van I used the Kindle App on my phone to read. I read so many books over the three months and really fell back in love with reading. When we’d tired of the radio or a Spotify playlist I’d open up the Kindle App and read one of the books I’d downloaded out loud so Thom (who was obviously driving at the time) could hear the story too. I went through a bit of a Bill Bryson phase and pretty much worked my way through his entire collection.
Who knows where you’d end up without the Google Maps app on a road trip. Whilst not knowing where you’d end up is all part of the adventure, sometimes you can’t afford to get too lost (like when you’ve only got a three month visa and are trying to cross the USA…).
Whilst I’d still recommend packing a good road map of the area you’re road tripping, Google Maps will not only help you with directions, but is also a great way to find out where the best restaurants, shops and things to do are.
I love using their “explore” function and finding cheap eats for dinner even when we’re not road tripping!
discoveree is the app that Thom created while we were on our road trip across America. The app is great for road trips and solved the problem we came across of resorting to Starbucks and McDonalds for coffee when all we really wanted was a local coffee shop. Google sometimes showed the local coffee shops, but not always and you couldn’t tell from Google Maps where that place was going to be good for working in or not – but you can with discoveree thanks to the built in rating system.
We might be biased, but we think it deserves to be up there with the best road trip apps.
This is a road trip app that I’ve found out about since we finished our road trip but I thought it still deserved to be on this list!
iExit lets you know what’s at upcoming exits on the highway. You can see where the nearest exists are or search the next 100 exits for businesses such as Starbucks, Cracker Barrel, or KOA Campgrounds and amenities like WiFi and truck parking, rest stops and more.
It’d definitely be useful when you’ve been driving for what feels like forever and are running low on gas or food.
Radio stations in the US really aren’t that great. And, even when you do find one that plays music, there’s only so many times you can hear the same song. We signed up to spotify premium so as not to use up all our data and used wifi to download a couple of new playlists every few days or so. This made drives fly by and we’ve kept our subscription for the (shorter) road trips we’ve been on here in Canada.
When you’re road tripping it can be hard to keep track of your money. That’s where MoneyLover comes in. This free app allows you to set budgets and record every single transaction you make. I used MoneyLover to stick to my daily budget of $35 a day. It was also interesting to see how much we spent on fuel and food while travelling. It’s a road trip app you don’t think you need but will find super useful!