Are you a future van lifer or current van lifer who’s always looking for ways to streamline van life? Here are the best van life apps we always turn to when searching for water, campsites, and more!
Currently while writing this blog post we’ve been on the road for almost two years and we’ve learned a lot. We’re by no means saying we’ve figured van life out 100%. In fact, the more we learn the more we realize we don’t know.
Learning the ins and outs of van life takes a bit of time and practice. Soon finding fresh water and dump stations becomes almost second nature. You’ll be a pro, especially with the help of the best apps for van life. There are a few apps we recommend downloading that make finding campgrounds, services, free parking, and more a whole lot easier.
Alright, let’s talk about our favorite time and money saving apps. These apps make the potentially frustrating side of van life easier!
Our Most Recommended Apps
This is our go-to app for finding dump stations and free parking during long drives. While AllStays does list many campgrounds, where they really shine is providing information about truck stops, free camping at places such as Walmart and Cabela’s, propane fill stations, and more. We find ourselves turning to this app a few times a week (especially on chore day) when we’re looking for the basic necessities that keep our van life running smoothly.
Cost: One time fee of ~$10
Download the app: App Store // Not available in Google Play
This is our absolute favorite app for finding campsites. With thousands of review of campsites from real life campers like us, this app is awesome. Having an idea of what to expect at a campsite saves a lot of time and stress. It also leaves more time for having fun and enjoying the actual camping.
The Dyrt has a free option with lots of really great features. However, if you’re looking for the most comprehensive and flexible app for life on the road, we highly recommend purchasing the paid version. For $35.99 you get access for the whole year (not a bad deal when you consider how much time and stress you’ll save yourself throughout the year).
The paid version includes route planning and offline features which are ideal for searching for campsites in remote places. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been off-grid hiking then have to go back to civilization to grab a cell signal to search for a good parking spot for the night.
Cost: Free or get the PRO version for $35.99 a year
>> (Use code “LBU” to get 10% off The Dyrt PRO for a year) <<
Download the app: App Store // Google Play
Sign up for The Dyrt Pro HERE
Note: The Dyrt also has a fully functional website if you prefer doing your searching on a computer.
iOverlander is unique in that it’s entirely user generated. The pros to this is that you get some unique, free places to park/camp in both the USA and Canada that usually come with reviews of the spots from other campers who have been there recently. The cons to being entirely user generated is that not all of the spots are legal. You’ll quickly get a feel for the app as you read through other people’s experiences from some of the camping spots. We always encourage you to 1) abide by the law, and 2) use your best judgement when camping somewhere. It’s always better to play it safe. Only camp in spots that you feel good in your gut about camping.
iOverlander is also one of the best places to find fresh water for your tanks. Other van lifers and RVers have listed fresh water, dump, and propane stations across the country in the app which is extremely helpful! These stations are pretty sporadic across the country (although you’ll definitely see the app is more comprehensive on the west coast), but it’s definitely a great resource to keep on your phone, especially since it’s free!
This is one of those apps I love but also sort of hate. I’m including it in the list because it’s a nice one to keep around, especially since it’s cheap. That being said, besides giving vague boundaries for various public lands, it’s kind of useless. It doesn’t give specific campsite recommendations or show roads past main highways and routes. But, if you’re planning to use public lands (national forest, BLM, etc.) pretty often, it’s worth downloading since the other apps on this list don’t have anything like it yet.
Fuel can be one of the biggest expenses on road trips and GasBuddy helps keep those costs as low as possible. Using this app we can quickly see where the cheapest fuel in the area is saving us a little bit of money everytime we fill up. We also use it to find diesel since not all fuel stations carry diesel. We recommend this app for everyone but especially if you have a diesel van or RV!
Okay, I almost left this app off the list because (in our opinion) it’s pretty mediocre. However, there have been a few times when it’s given us a few free campgrounds that we didn’t see listed on the others apps so we’re including it here (because who doesn’t like saving money?!). In our opinion, Campedium is a little less reliable and definitely not as thorough of an app as others such as The Dyrt or iOverlander. It is still a worthwhile app to download, especially considering it’s free.
Campedium really shines when it comes to those random, free public camping spots as well as when you want a better idea of what the exact cost of a campsite will be (rather than depending on $-$$$$ like some apps do). Actual Campedium users will list in the app the last price they paid for a camp spot at the campground so you have a decent idea of what you’ll pay, too.
Final thoughts about best apps for van life…
When it comes to finding campsites, the more resources you have, the better. We frequently find ourselves checking several different apps to weigh our camping options in a certain area. While we definitely gravitate towards one or two specific apps, we recommend everyone download several.
If you have an app suggestion we haven’t included here, please let us know in the comments below because we’re always looking for new resources to add to our van life. 🙂
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Happy travelin’, y’all!