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Technology has made it easier than ever to plan the perfect road trip. In fact, there are so many trip planning websites and apps available now that it can be difficult to select the best ones. So, in this article we will take a look at why it’s important to plan ahead and detail the nine best websites and apps for planning your next RV trip.
Value of Using Trip Planning Websites and Apps
Planning ahead can sometimes be tedious, but it will make your trip much safer, easier, and smoother in the long run. Planning can also help you choose the most efficient route between destinations, and the safest roads to take with a large RV. For instance, you can be sure to avoid low clearances and unnecessarily steep mountain passes, as well as find the best price on fuel and search out the perfect campground or RV park based on crowdsourced reviews.
All of these trip planning websites and apps were made to facilitate safe and easy road-tripping, many of them specifically for RVs. By using these apps, you won’t miss out on an amazing campground just because it wasn’t on the paper map or in the area guidebook. The websites and apps are updated regularly, full of unbiased crowdsourced information, and optimized for travelers.
Recommended RV Trip Planning Apps and Websites
Google Maps is extremely helpful for general planning. You can view the entire region that you plan to travel to, pick out destination cities or attractions, and determine your mileage and travel time. You can also find tons of reviews on anywhere that you might want to go. However, Google Maps isn’t specifically optimized for RV travel, so be careful not to be led down any routes that are only suitable for cars. You can check anything in advance by looking at the satellite image to determine road quality and width, and you can ascertain the elevation gained and lost by switching over to the bike travel option within your route.
Maps.me is a free app that allows you to download maps for offline use. You can choose to download the entire United States or just the states that you will be traveling in. Having offline maps can be a major lifesaver if you are driving through rural or remote areas and lose your navigation signal. Map.me’s navigation will begin and keep going even when you don’t have cell service, which can even be lifesaving if an emergency arises and you need to find the nearest medical services.
Maps.me is also an amazing resource for hiking, as it has almost any trail that you might hike in its database of offline maps. So, if you get lost while hiking during your trip, you can use it to orient yourself and determine how long it will take to get back to your RV.
The user interface of freecampsites.net leaves something to be desired, but the content of the website is gold. There is no app available, so it’s easiest to access on a computer (although it’s possible on a smartphone). You can zoom in on your destination area and view color-coded sites on the maps, with the different colors indicating whether the site is free, requires a permit, or has a nightly fee.
Each site listing tells you the maximum number of nights you can stay, the maximum RV length allowed, what amenities are available, whether there is cell service, which permit if any is required, and how far the site is from a paved road. There are also often reviews on the postings, which give you a good idea of how accurate the initial listing was and whether anything has changed since the campsite has been posted.
Campendium is a similar concept to freecampsites.net, but with a better interface and a mobile app. You can also filter your search for nearby RV parks, public lands, free campsites, overnight parking, or dump stations. However, although the interface is nicer, there are not quite as many sites listed as on freecampsites.net (depending on the area) and many sites have few or no reviews, which makes it hard to trust their quality. It is nice, however, to be able to filter results to exactly what you need at the time.
iOverlander is another free app that’s similar to freecampsites.net and Campendium. This interface is better than freecampsites.net but not quite as intuitive as Campendium. The main advantage of iOverlander is that you can search for almost anything using different filters: established/informal/wild camping, hotels and hostels, fuel stations and propane vendors, mechanics, water and dump locations, restaurants and attractions, medical services, showers and laundromats, and even things like customs and immigration information, consulates, and vehicle shipping and storage facilities.
These additional features are extremely useful, especially for long trips where you need more services and if you are traveling outside of your home country.
Harvest Hosts is a membership-based website and app that requires a $79 annual fee but then allows members to stay at various host locations overnight for no additional cost, although a $20 purchase of the host’s goods and services is suggested. Host locations include breweries, wineries, farms, animal sanctuaries, museums, golf courses, and much more. Members are allowed to dry camp for 24 hours at a host location and must be in a fully self-contained RV with an indoor toilet, indoor cooking facilities, and a waste water containment system.
Harvest Hosts can be an amazing way to experience businesses in ways that you never would be able to otherwise, and there many host locations throughout North America so you can effectively travel almost anywhere you want to by staying at a series of Harvest Hosts.
The Roadtrippers website and app is a free platform that allows you to enter your desired start and end locations for your trip, and it will not only show you the best route to take but also recommend “off the beaten path” places and attractions to stop at along the way. These recommendations can be personalized to your preferences and will help you avoid tourist traps and busy destinations while getting a more “locals only” feel during your trip.
Roadtrippers Plus is also available, which is a $29.99 per year paid version of the app that allows you to build longer itineraries, share your plans with friends, and use the app without ads.
RV Trip Wizard offers a free seven-day trial but the full web-based service costs $39 per year, which can be well worth it if you RV frequently. The app allows you to input your specific RV’s weight and height, and then it will choose your route to avoid low clearances, steep grades, and other potential hazards and roadblocks.
It has over 20,000 campgrounds that are reviewed by other RVers and more than 10,000,000 data points to bring you the most accurate information about each destination and campground. This tool provides a visual plan of your trip, drive time and distance information, and cost estimates for your entire trip, including fuel and campground costs.
Last on our list is GasBuddy, which is a free app that can help you find the cheapest fuel near you, wherever you are. You can also use it to plan out your fuel stops in advance using the route feature to save as much money as possible throughout your trip. RVs are notorious gas guzzlers, so every penny saved on fuel is a penny towards more adventures.
With this list of recommended RV trip planning websites and apps, you can be more prepared for your next RV renter’s adventure.
Do you know of any other helpful apps and websites for trip planning? Comment below.