Sunday, May 29, 2016

Top 10 RV Road Trip Apps

It's Memorial Day Weekend! The official start of yet another summer RVing season. Us full-time RVers, dare I say, might be considered the "old pros" of the classic American RV road trip, as we are continuously doing them all year long.

Recently, I completed a 2,000-mile cross-country journey, skillfully skirting around severe springtime weather, low bridges, and traffic jams, while discovering some great sights, nature, and food along the way.    


Each year, the logistics for these long trips have gotten a little easier thanks to my ever-improving collection of awesome mobile travel apps.  So, if you're preparing to head out for your own big RV road trip this summer, take these apps along with you, and have a great ride!

1. InRoute

InRoute (iOS only) is the newest app in my arsenal.  It lets you plot out multiple waypoints on a map, and easily share this trip route between your i-devices, or to various GPS navigation systems.  Sure, Google My Maps  on a desktop/laptop web browser can do a few of the same things, but InRoute has a much deeper feature set for RVers, and is also much easier to use on a tablet or phone while traveling.

For instance, InRoute (Premium or Pro) gives the ability to see an elevation graph of your route (and zoom in to see it in even greater detail).  This is a fantastic feature for trying to cross the Rocky Mountains with a loaded-down, slow-chugging Winnie View!


InRoute also can figure out what day/time you'll be traveling through each waypoint and show you graphs of what the wind speed & direction, precipitation, and temperatures will be like when you hit each point along your route.



InRoute also solves the drawback of Google Maps navigation not being able to support multiple waypoints. It pushes each segment of the trip to Google Maps in a "just in time" fashion so you don't need to be constantly fumbling with your phone during a travel day to get directions to your next stop.  Pretty cool stuff!


2. Allstays Camp & RV



Allstays Camp & RV - (iOS & Android). This is an absolute "must-have" app for RVers!  It helps you find campgrounds, overnight parking (Walmarts, rest areas, etc), propane, RV repair, low bridges, steep road grades, and more.  I rarely make reservations in advance anymore, as I can just peruse my Allstays app around lunchtime and look for camping spots in the vicinity of where I plan to stop for the evening.  No more stress if I fail to reach an originally-planned nightly destination!

3. The Weather Channel



The Weather Channel - (iOS & Android). My go-to app for general weather forecasts, storm radar, and sunrise/sunset times.

4. Weather Radio


Weather Radio - (iOS & Android). Traditional weather radios force you to always know what county you're in (a tall task when driving 60 mph across the great plains).  This app is smarter.  It can push severe weather NWS audio alerts to your phone by just using your phone's current location (you can add more locations as desired too).  Leave this app running in the background, and it can wake you up in the middle of the night should a big angry tornado or flash flood be headed your way!  The app also has pretty nice "at a glance" hourly or 7-day weather forecasts, but the radar images are not as high-resolution as The Weather Channel's app.  

5. Windy


Windy - (iOS & Android).  When driving across New Mexico and the Texas panhandle this spring, there were a couple days of dangerous wind storms.  Had I just used general weather apps, I may have delayed a travel day for nothing (or found myself in the most-severe part of the storm!).  Windy gave me more precise hourly forecast information as well as a live wind map to see what routes were less windy and still passable allowing me to continue my travels eastward with just a slightly different route than originally planned.

6. GasBuddy


GasBuddy - (iOS & Android). This app always quickly finds the lowest priced gas along the way.  I like the ability to reposition the map and quickly see prices in a specific area.  Very easy to check my daily intended route and plan my fill-up at a location with the cheapest fuel.

7. Coverage?


Coverage? - (iOS only).  I rely on a MiFi cellular data hotspot for my internet needs, so making sure there is decent cell coverage wherever I travel is very important to me.  This app helps me quickly find where the best cell coverage will be along my route, and lets me compare carrier coverage maps should I need to swap out a different prepaid SIM card into my unlocked iPhone. 

8. Yelp



Yelp - (iOS & Android).  I like to check out locally-owned restaurants and steer clear of fast-food chains whenever I'm doing a big road trip.  Yelp helps me find the tastiest places in town!  Since Yelp is still just pretty U.S.-focused, if I'm traveling outside of the U.S. (or just want a secondary source of info if I'm in a big city), I use TripAdvisor (also for Android).

9. RoadTrippers



RoadTrippers - (iOS & Android).  Fun little phone app, with a great website too, for finding interesting attractions along your travel route.

10. TV Towers USA



TV Towers USA - (iOS only).  When I stay for a few days in a new place, this app helps me find where the over-the-air (OTA) TV towers are at in relation to my current location.  It also shows each station's coverage map, it's real channel number (helpful when using the Sensar Pro below), and it's available sub-channels.  I just point my Winegard rooftop antenna in the direction of the TV antennas, fine tune with my Sensar Pro TV signal amplifier, and I've got the most optimized digital TV signal I can get!


Do you have a favorite RV travel app not on this list?  Tell us about it in the comments section below!






13 comments:

  1. When you say (also Android), do you mean only Android or iOS and Android? I'm in the market for a new phone, not sure what I should be getting. Thanks for sharing these!

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    1. Thanks Sarah-- I just went back and updated the post to show "iOS Only" vs "iOS & Android" apps. I started out with iPhones and switched to Android a few years ago due to those phones having bigger, more readable screens at the time. While I could get most of the same apps on Android as I had on iOS, the Android versions felt a bit less polished to me, and overall, my particular Android phone did not seem as durable as iPhone hardware. So when Apple came out with the iPhone 6 and larger screens, I switched back and have been very satisfied. I've got a Mac and an iPad Mini, so an iPhone just fits into that system more seamlessly than a Droid. If you don't have any other Apple products, though, you might find a less expensive Android phone to be perfectly fine for your needs.

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  2. Thanks Lynne! I have the GasBuddy and AllStays but not a single one of your other suggestions! They all appear something that any traveler could use, not just the full-timers. We'll be on the road this summer for a few months, perfect timing to add your other suggestions to our arsenal to attack Alaska!
    Thanks!

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    1. Yes, I think you'll find a number of these apps helpful for your summer travels! Certainly not just useful to full-time RVers!

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  3. We enjoy many of the same apps, great tastes :) And we're honored that you included Coverage? in your line up.. thank you!

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    1. Thank you for developing (and continuing to update) it! I would have also included your 2 other excellent apps (StateLines and PublicLands) if it weren't for trying to shoe-horn my list into a snappy "Top 10" title.

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    1. the link in the post will take you right to the iTunes App Store preview page. The developer's website link is also on that page. I had a hard time finding some of these apps too due to so many with the same name, but click the link above and you should be good!

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    2. Thanks, I realized that you had provided that link after I posted. Sorry to bother!

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  5. Thank you Lynne! My husband and i are considering moving from Los Angeles to Maryland this year and are looking forward to the drive across the country. These apps will be so useful. I will also be traveling with 3 dogs so I'll be doing some research on dog friendly hotels and vets apps too.

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  6. Thanks so much Lynne! I have many of these apps, but am excited about trying InRoute and Windy. You just might have saved me from some white-knuckle driving. :) Great list.

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  7. I am so jealous of your ability to travel our beautiful country via an RV! It has always been a huge dream of mine to travel accross the country and see all of the things that makes it such a great place to live. Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! Thanks for including the route you took and the weather along the way!

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