Having resources and apps to help you while living the vanlife is undoubtedly important. Sure, sometimes you stumble across a campsite without guidance. However, most of the time, there is a precise strategy behind every water fill-up, nightly campsite and fuel stop.
Best Vanlife Apps for the Ultimate Trip
Thankfully, there are tons of resources out there for all vanlifers. As this community continues to grow, the number of apps and places to find useful information is bound to grow as well.
1. iOverlander – For the Wild Campsite Lover
First up is IOverlander. This is an app and website that has gained massive popularity among vanlifers recently. The beauty of this app is that other vanlifers are able to share campsites, wild camping, water fill-ups, and so much more on the platform itself. From there, others who have visited the same spot are able to leave comments and photos.
Personally, this is my #1, go-to app for finding free camp spots. I use it every single time I am in a new-to-me area and trying to find a place to camp. The reviews that others in the Vanlife and Overlanding community leave are super detailed. It’s nice to check out a spot on the app, see some photos of it and know if anyone else has ever had a problem camping there.
You can find anything from Walmart parking lots to rural logging roads on IOverlander. This makes it great for just about every vanlifer. There are also entries from all over the world. Even Antarctica has 7 campsite suggestions. And the best part? It is 100% free to use!
If you use this app, be sure to leave a review of the places you visit. It helps others after you know what places are worth stopping at for a night.
2. Open Signal – For The Digital Nomad
This is a great resource for all digital nomads out there. Working from the road is great until you need dependable service and you’re parked on BLM land with one bar flashing in and out. Then, you have to pack up camp and drive to the nearest town, fingers crossed that they have a better signal than you did!
Open Signal is a life-changing solution to that exact scenario many of us land in! What Open Signal does, is allow you to search a location ahead of time and find out what type of cell signal to expect. It even tells you what download and upload speeds to expect with different carriers.
It’s the perfect app for those who are planning to get away from a city but still want to get some online work done. It’s also great for someone who might be a little hesitant about leaving cell service and want to know ahead of time what they are getting themselves into it.
Open Signal is completely free. The only downside is that (as of now) it is US-based only.
3. FreeCampsites.Net – For the Free Campsite Enthusiast
This is another great resource to find campsites on the road. FreeCampsites.Net is a desktop database that shows free campsites, as its name suggests! Entries are made by others on the road who have come across a great place to stay.
There is also a trip planning feature that, personally I haven’t used, although it would come in handy for many. One downside to this platform is that it is a website and not an app. This means that when on the road, trying to find a place to park up, you need to pull out your computer or try to navigate the site on a tiny phone screen.
I will say, there are a LOT of entries in the US. So, if you are travelling in the states, chances are this site will help you quickly find a nearby user-reviewed camp spot.
You’ve probably heard of this one or even use it already. However, GasBuddy is a great resource to help you find the best fuel prices around. Not only do I use it to help find cheap fuel. But, I also use it as a guideline to help decide what station I am going to fill up at next, especially when on a road trip.
Even if you don’t live in a van, this is a great app to add to your everyday life. By checking the app quickly before you pull into a gas station, you can save $5-10 per fill-up by just driving a little down the road to a cheaper option. Oh, and did I mention it’s free?!
5. Harvest Host – For the Craft Beer Fanatic
Love craft beer and touring wineries? Then Harvest Host is the resource for you! It is a membership-based community that has over 1500 different farms, breweries and wineries that have opened their parking lots to vanlifers, overlanders and RVers.
The great thing about Harvest Host is typically, the places you visit through the platform are epically scenic, footsteps away from beer + wine on tap and filled with like-minded people who are happy to strike up a conversation. Then, after you’ve indulged in the local wine/beer, you can just crawl into your bed. No need to worry about sorting out driving.
The subscription cost is $79/annually. That’s about the cost of paying for a campsite for 2 nights, not bad!
Honourable Mention: Instagram
A bonus resource that many know for the photo share aspect is Instagram. By connecting with other vanlifers through Instagram, you’d be surprised how many camp spots get suggested to you!
There have been many times that I’ve found myself struggling to find a camp spot, and then posted on my stories asking for help. The community always shows up and offers their advice and places they’ve stayed in the area.
There is a lot of power in building relationships with others in the vanlife community. And sometimes, you end up meeting up with people who you met on Instagram only to become great friends and head out on another adventure with them!
Other Useful Articles:
- Joshua Tree Camping Tips And How To Secure The Best Spots
- How To Secure a Yosemite Camping Spot And What To Do If You Don’t
- What Walmart Overnight Parking Is Like And Is It Permitted?
Living on the road is becoming increasingly more simple as more and more apps hit the scene. These 5 are just a few of many! Know of an app or resources that we missed? Be sure to let us know!