There’s a lot of new content out there for RV’ers. It used to be that when you headed off on your RV adventures you’d find yourself carrying a lot of books and guides of varying types. But as the Internet continues to develop, and as mobile devices continue to improve, we’re finding so many great apps that help us find fun spots that the regular books and guides have become obsolete.
When I first hit the road in 2006 I had a few interesting guides along with me. The Woodalls Guide (now part of Good Sam), a Wal-Mart directory (for Wal-Marts you could overnight at), Don Wright’s East Coast and West Coast “Free Campgrounds” (listed all locations under $14 per night), the Passport America Guide book, and a sizable US Atlas. Carrying all of those books actually took a fair amount of space when you stacked them, and today I’ve replaced them all with my iPhone. It’s much smaller than a stack of phone book sized directories, and the information is updated rapidly thanks to the net.
So, what’s on my iPhone for travel?
I discovered All Stays back in 2013. It’s a great little App for iPhones and Androids that lists almost every camping location out there. Simply plug in a destination you’d like to visit and All Stays will show you the camping options in the area. When I first got the app I did notice that the focus was on commercial RV Parks, and many of the boondocking locations I’m fond of were not included. So at the time I acquired several other apps (mentioned below) to fill in the gaps. Today All Stays covers even more! That’s the beauty of these applications, they keep improving and updates keep coming out!
Many people live on Facebook. Not the case here, although folks might not believe that at first. Since we work from the road, and we work on Internet related business, we’re very aware of the fact that Social Media matters. Taking a look at my Facebook profile you’d think I’m on there a lot. Fortunately, I’m not on as much as it looks like.
Whenever I do an update from this website, The Airstream Chronicles, or my business, the posts are automatically shared to Facebook. And one of my websites is normally updated every day. Since these websites automatically update to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, I’m reaching a larger audience than just the websites generate every day. That helps people keep up with our travels and our business.
When I first hit the road in 2006 I had a Garmin 2610 GPS. It was a huge brick of a device. And I had a set of CDs to update maps as I moved from one region of the U.S. to another. The database was too big to hold on one memory card. One of my favorite features on the 2610 was the “Find Next Exit” feature. It worked like the blue informational signs you see along the highways by showing you upcoming exits and their services. Even better, when you found a service exit ahead you could click on the service itself and get additional information like “Big Rig Friendly, RV Parking,” etc.
As Garmin has progressed in the GPS market, a lot of the “Find Next Exit” features have disappeared. All the additional information is gone now. And that’s where iExit comes in. It works in a similar fashion to my old 2610. So as we make our way from one location to the next, iExit is used to find refueling stops along our routes. It lets us plan ahead. An exit 30 miles away becomes our next pull off, and we know exactly what’s there.
This is a new addition to our arsenal of Apps for the road. Instagram lets you take photos with your smartphone and instantly share them on the Instagram site. Several other Airstream families introduced Istagram to me last year. Many of them use the app instead of blogging or Facebooking or Tweeting. You can write as much as you like about the images you share. And you can send the images to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr instantly. If you’re into Social Media, this is a great way to get your messages out there from only one app.
Many of the travelers I’ve met over the past year are on Instagram, and only Instagram. They let it do all the work for them on other social media outlets, and they don’t even blog about their travels. And lets face it, people are very visual when it comes to the net. Nice photos plus a short blurb about the location caters to everyone’s short attention spans! It’s a great way to share your adventures with friends and family, and develop a whole new community of people who follow along with your travels!
This might seem like a weird one at first since the primary function of Lost It! is for weight management. It’s a great little app that helps people reach their dieting goals, but it’s so much more as well. Given the fact that I’m personally struggling with some severe food allergies, Lose It helps me manage what I’ve been eating, it’s nutritional content, and helps me get a gauge of what’s working for me.
Traveling around in your RV, you often stop into greasy spoons and truck stops for a quick snack. If you keep track of what you’re doing while you’re traveling you might just eat a little healthier while traveling. When you look at your snacks for the day it might hit you that 4 Snickers bars a day while traveling isn’t the healthiest lifestyle. That’s where Lose It comes in. And best part? The basic version is free!
Like Facebook, Twitter is another social media outlet that I sort of use. You’d think I’m on it all day with the number of posts that go up, but you’d be wrong. Between the websites I run, and my Instagram feed, it looks like I’m a very active part of the Twitter community. But I’m actually updating articles from my websites, so no extra effort there. And when we’re traveling Instagram gets used a lot, and all that usage is directly reflected on Twitter.
The Ultimate Campground Guide is another app that helps you find campgrounds across the U.S. Here’s the twist with this one. It focuses on non-commercial campgrounds only. State parks, county parks, BLM, USFS…..You won’t find any RV resorts on this one. But you will find some great parks all the same.
I found out about the Ultimate CG through one of the creators of the app. They contacted me after I’d written up a large article on All Stays on The Airstream Chronicles.
USFS and BLM Campground Guide
This little gem cost $.99. And it lists all of the USFS campsites throughout the country, and all of the BLM Campgrounds too. As I said in the introduction to this article, I used to carry Don Wright’s Guide to Free Campgrounds in my truck. Basically this app covers a lot of the same places as that guide. Combined with my other apps, I have a complete set of directories built into my iPhone!
I saved this one for last. It isn’t an app (yet). Campendium is a website created by a couple of Airstreamers. Like All Stays, the Ultimate CG, and the USFS & BLM Guide, Campendium also lets you find campgrounds anywhere in the country. It’s free to sign up, and there are a few bonuses not seen in other apps.
RV’ers and campers can provide updates to the website. They can include their own photography, reviews, and blog posts if they like. The site also focuses on whether or not there’s any network available for those of us who work from the road, or those that just want to stay in touch. I see Campendium doing well down the road if they keep building and adding to the site as they have been doing!