Some full-time RVers are drawn to the lifestyle by the freedom to fly by the seat of their pants, deciding when and where to move based on how they feel upon waking any morning. Others, like us, take a more disciplined approach. It’s more conducive to success with our 42-foot fifth wheel that stands 13 feet, 3 inches tall.
For our plan of attack, we rely on a number of phone apps to aid us in navigation and exploration. Apps for RVing abound, many of which we haven’t tried in our four years on the road. But a few have become standbys. Let’s take a look.
If we’re not moochdocking on the property of friends or family, Campendium tends to be our first app of choice for checking camping possibilities in a given area. For an annual fee, it shows us campgrounds, boondocking options, dump stations, overnight parking stops, and even Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to help us make informed decisions.
We’re able to search based on location, price, hookups, cell signal strength, amenities, and more. What we really like about this app is the reviews of people who’ve stayed at the places we’re considering.
Freecampsites.net is another source we consult sometimes when researching places to stay.
2. Harvest Hosts
If we don’t like what we find on Campendium for the area we plan to visit, we check our options on Harvest Hosts. We’re part of Boondockers Welcome, which was acquired by Harvest Hosts. The app incorporates both memberships.
Harvest Hosts allows RVers to stay at museums, farms, wineries, breweries, and more for a single night. Boondockers Welcome lets guests stay on people’s personal property for up to five nights, depending on the host. Some hosts even offer electric, water, and/or sewer hookups for a small fee.
Each host and experience is unique. We enjoy meeting our hosts, learning about their area, and spending time with them.
3. Open Roads
As we travel the country, we make a lot of fuel stops — but fewer than we did before upgrading our fuel tank. Open Roads is our go-to app to save money at the pump. It allows us to get trucker discounts at Petro, TA, Love’s, and a few other truck stops across the country — and fill up at the diesel pumps the truckers use, which is super helpful since our rig is only 3 inches shorter in height than most semis.
We’re also able to fill our diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at the pump this way, instead of having to pour the smelly stuff into our truck’s DEF reservoir from a box.
We use a handful of individual fuel station apps as needed in concert with Open Roads: TA, Love’s, Pilot, and Maverik. Although Open Roads tells us the prices for diesel fuel with our discount, it doesn’t tell us if a given stop has a dump station or other amenities we might be interested in, such as restaurants. The individual apps help with that.
Because of the size of our rig, navigating can be challenging. We pay an annual fee for the CoPilot trucker app, which allows us to enter the dimensions of our rig and then routes us accordingly, steering us clear of low overpasses and bridges that can’t handle our weight.
Other apps, such as Roadtrippers, allow RVers to enter their rig’s dimensions as well. We haven’t used those apps much as we’ve been very happy with CoPilot. However, after entering our height, length, and desired stops into Roadtrippers to plot a possible course for travel, I received a warning that certain legs of the journey wouldn’t work for us. But the app didn’t reroute us to routes that would.
5. Google Maps
Although we trust CoPilot and its directions, we don’t solely rely on it for navigation. We also check Google Maps — especially satellite view — to ensure we can get into and out of fuel stops, parking lots, and potential camping spots.
In addition, we take advantage of Google Earth and its distance-measuring feature to give us a realistic picture of what we might find at a given destination.
6. Ultimate RV Checklist
To ensure we don’t forget any steps when packing up the trailer for travel and connecting it to and disconnecting it from the truck, we use a checklist app. We had used Tasks for a couple of years, but when it suddenly lost our checklists, we decided to trade it for an app with a backup option.
Ultimate RV Checklist fit that bill. It comes with preloaded checklists you can use as is, or you can create your own to fit your needs. We did the latter.
At one point, that app also stopped working. When that happened, we found that the backups couldn’t be easily reloaded into the app. So we moved them into Google Keep. I plan to put them back into a checklist app, where I can easily check them off and then uncheck them to reset the app for the next use.
Our Jayco Pinnacle came with OneControl by Lippert onboard, which we can use to turn lights on and off, open and close slideouts and awnings, and level the trailer. The control unit is right inside the trailer door.
There’s also a OneControl phone app that offers the added convenience of being able to use it from outside the trailer. It comes in handy to assist with retracting the rear and mid stabilizers when we’re getting ready to connect the truck to the trailer, as well as opening and closing awnings while outside enjoying nice weather, and things like that.
Other apps we use on occasion include CAT Scale and Allstays.
You might also like 4 Reasons We Avoid RV Resorts.
This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.