Traveling across the country is an exciting opportunity. One of the most affordable ways to do this is with a renovated van.
You can drive from one campsite to another, and when you’re not driving, use the cozy interior to sleep, work, and relax. The outside of your “front door” is constantly changing, and you get to form unique memories every day.
As wonderful as van life can be, there are some stressful elements too. To help you live your best possible van life, here are 10 incredibly helpful apps for Android and iOS.
Sēkr is one of the best online resources for van travelers. If you only download one recommended app from this list, it should be this one.
The Sēkr app is made by vanlifers for all campers, making it easy to find campsites, connect with other people on the same journey, and download maps for off-grid adventures. You can use the app to chat with other people living the van life, or discover van life gatherings near you to find local events whether you’re new in town or not.
It’s also possible to make money via Sēkr if you have private property that would be great for overnight stays from campers. Using CampShares, you can post your property so it’s visible to Sēkr users and start collecting money and positive reviews as people stay on your land.
2. Gaia GPS
Whether you need to navigate the drive from one location to another or track your path on a hiking trail, Gaia GPS has you covered. You can download maps to use offline so you’re never at the mercy of a failing or nonexistent internet connection.
In Gaia GPS, you can track your adventure stats, find local trails to explore wherever you are, and pinpoint your exact location at any given moment. There are also different maps to use depending on what you need, like a satellite map with labels, NatGeo Trails illustrated maps, public land maps, and more.
GasBuddy is a wildly popular app that can help you save money on gas. If you’re using your vehicle to explore the country, you’re probably driving a lot and using up gas quickly.
You can use the app to simply find the closest station with the best prices, or you can sign up for the free GasBuddy fuel card to save even more money. You pay with the GasBuddy card at the pump and can save up to 25 cents per gallon, even at major stations like Shell, Chevron, Wawa, and Speedway.
Then, the GasBuddy app allows you to shop within the app and get cashback rewards at large stores like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, and more. You can also track your driving habits and get tips from GasBuddy on how you can be more fuel-efficient and waste less gas—super helpful when you’re using so much of it.
With the Opensignal app, you can test your 3G, 4G, or 5G speeds as well as your video streaming quality. Many people living in a vehicle rely on the internet to fund their lifestyle, whether earning income from a remote full-time job or as a digital freelance writer, artist, or influencer. So it’s important to know whether the internet where you’re staying is decent!
If the signal is excellent, you know you can perform more intense tasks like uploading a video to YouTube or even unwinding with a Netflix show after a long day. But if your signal is poor or nonexistent, you can skip the inevitable fight with the internet and do something that doesn’t require a connection, like writing in an offline Google Doc or editing a video.
5. WiFi Map
Just because you’re living on the road, you shouldn’t be forced to endure crappy Wi-Fi networks. This app allows you to find a strong internet connection wherever you are, whether you’re stopping for a quick work break in a coffee shop or trying to find somewhere to stay for the night.
There’s a built-in secure VPN for extra protection and millions of Wi-Fi hotspots listed within the app.
If you have an RV or another vehicle with a toilet inside, you may not have much need for the Flush mobile app. But if you’re driving a renovated sleeper van or car camping, Flush can help you find a public restroom no matter where you’re currently located.
Many of the available restrooms in Flush belong to major stores, like Walmart or Target, or smaller retail or restaurant chains, like Starbucks. Occasionally, you’ll find an obscure toilet location open to the public inside a museum or a mom-and-pop shop. This comes in handy when you urgently need to go, but you’re not close to any well-known chain stores.
When you’re living the van life, your typical daily routine involves lots of driving and the occasional takeout meal. With the Upside app, you can earn cash back simply for doing the things you normally do every day.
You’re able to earn cash back when you fill up your vehicle with gas, buy food from restaurants like Marco’s Pizza or Chipotle, and stock up on groceries from major and niche retailers. Upside’s cashback offers are available at over 50,000 businesses nationwide.
Living on the road often means getting rid of a lot of material possessions that aren’t absolutely essential. As sad as it is, this includes books! Books are heavy and take up a lot of space, so they aren’t practical to bring along in a van, car, or even an RV.
Luckily, the Libby app lets you stay up to date with newly released books as well as binge-read your old favorites. As long as you have a library card from whatever local town you recently departed from, it’s easy to connect your card and start checking out eBooks.
If you don’t have a permanent address or can’t sign up for a physical library card, there are a few libraries that allow non-residents to sign up for a card—sometimes for free, but most often for a small fee.
While books may not be a practical addition to your ride, here are some campervan tech features you need to include in your van build.
9. The Dyrt
The Dyrt app helps you find and book the perfect campsite anywhere in the US. There are over 44,000 total campgrounds to book for tents, RVs, vans, cabins, and more. Each campground is classified by type and has ratings from previous campers. While you’re deciding on your next campground, you can use one of these awesome road trip planners to inspire your next adventure.
If you have land or property that you think would be great for camping, you can list your campground on The Dyrt for other people to find. The app doesn’t charge commission fees for bookings, so if someone chooses your campground, you get 100% of the money.
Similar to The Dyrt app, the Recreation.gov app helps you find the perfect campsite for the night. You can compare campgrounds across thousands of locations across the country, and then book your campsite directly in the app when you find the right one.
Within Recreation.gov, there are also some great ideas for activities, attractions, and experiences nearby your chosen campsite. You can buy passes or tickets for events, if necessary, right inside the app so everything’s in one place.
Get Out There and Live Your Best Van Life
Living the van life is something that takes years to perfect. Even then, things are constantly changing, and you learn better ways to get from place to place, meet new people, and maintain your budget while on the road.
Any of these apps will help you get started at making the most of your van life, taking your mind off more practical matters so you can enjoy the views of the country.