On top of researching van building, van life, and finding the right van for me. I also wanted to know there was a solid van life community before I set off on a journey as a solo female van lifer. Come to find there are many vanlife apps to make life easier on the road.
I realized that not only was there a solid community, but there were also multiple ways to engage with the van life community from where ever I was. From the van life gatherings, I saw being organized, to podcasts like My Solo Road, and the multitude of van life apps with crowdsourced information to help others on their camper van journey.
Here are just a few of those apps that I have either already used, or know I will make use of when I hit the road officially with my completed van build.
Free Overnight Parking? Yes, please. If you are trying to be stealth in a city in your camper van, check out IOverlander for some of the best spots to park overnight. This app will tell you everything you need to know with crowdsourced information such as finding amenities such as water, dump stations, great stealth spots, RV parks, and much more. While iOverlander is mainly used for stealth camping, you can also find amazing camping spots on recreational and BLM land.
2. All Trails
Where ever I go hiking, I always check out AllTrails to guide me in the right direction. There are over 100,000 trails on the app that allow you to follow as you go with GPS. The app will let you know the estimated time to complete the trail, what other hikers have rated it, as well as rate the difficulty of each trail. This is another great resource for when you are on the road looking for some adventure and exercise.
For van lifers with dogs, this app is also great because you can filter to see which trails are dog friendly.
3. US Public Lands
One thing that really excited me about van life was the opportunity to experience camping remotely or “boondocking” on Bureau of Land Management land “BLM” land. I was happy to see there was an app that would let me know where I could find some pristine public lands. This app will show you where private land ends, and public lands are available for free camping. While it doesn’t give exact sites, it gives you a jumping-off point to know where “Boondocking” is allowed.
One thing I always spend time on is trying to make sure I don’t miss anything along the way when I am taking a road trip. I would hate to realize I passed by some one of a kind restaurant or beautiful waterfalls on my way somewhere and didn’t stop.
Roadtrippers is an amazing app for Vanlifers or any roadtripper because it helps you find the best things to do on your journey. Want to know about local events, sightseeing attractions, and other cultural experiences along the way? Then download Roadtrippers to plan your route, from where to stay, where to eat, to finding practical things like fuel on your next road trip.
I love finding quirky roadside attractions and this app helps you do just that. Planner or not, you will find this app extremely useful and make your van life experience rewarding.
How to get Wifi on the road?
5. Open Signal
Many people that pursue van life work remotely, and while we would all love to go camping free from the “real world” it is important to find wifi to work! Open Signal is amazing because it allows you to see where cell service towers are located and cell coverage maps. After finding that perfect camping spot, you are not going to want to pack up and leave when the signal is weak or nonexistent.
I use my hotspot for wifi when I am on the road, so Open Signal helps me plan to know where I am camping will have cell service. Also, it is a safety issue, this way I know I can call someone if I need help.
6. Wifi Finder
Working from the road and your hotspot acting up? No worries, because Wifi finder will help you find free wifi you can connect to. Some of my favorite places to find free wifi: Starbucks, Libraries, and McDonald’s. However, sometimes these are not easy to find and Wifi finder may help you find another place for you to get connected.
On the road and got to go? Well Flush is the app to save the day when you are in search of a public restroom on the road. While you may have a potty in the camper, I would rather use that in emergencies and use a free public restroom if possible.
The app even gives you directions on how to access the bathroom so you don’t have to ask anyone and can get straight to business.
8. Gas Buddy
No one wants to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Gas Buddy will help you to find the nearest gas station, or cheapest place to fill up. As they say, save your pennies and the dollars will follow.
Best Apps For Boondocking
There are so many campgrounds and free places to park on BLM land, National Parks, and National Forest Land that you may find it hard to choose from all the choices. However, Campendium is a crowdsourced resource to find the best places to camp.
This app includes everything you need to know about particular camping spots, such as whether a particular van, car, or RV can fit into the spot, how cell service is, and if four-legged friends are welcome. Also, it includes information on dump stations, water fill-up stations, and more things you may need to sustain life in a van on the road.
10. RV All Stays
RVer’s and Vanlifer’s can both use this popular app to find the best camping (both free or paid), and amenities like dump stations, water fill-up stations, and laundry services among other necessities for van life.
The best feature is you can filter what you see on the map, so you can filter to see BLM land, US Forest land, Fish and Wildlife, and private campgrounds. It is great to get an idea of all the places you can stay on your journey.
Cost: $9.99 for the phone app, pro-plan website only $39.99
11. Harvest Hosts
Bespoke camping for free? Well Harvest Hosts will make your dreams of waking up in the middle of a farm or vineyard come true. There are over 1151 plus locations around the United States and Canada, all are stunning in their own right.
Harvest Hosts offers a free overnight parking directory for farms, vineyards, breweries, museums, and other attractions, all in return for a little love at their businesses. All vehicles must be self-contained (porta-potties are acceptable, just dump offsite).
Cost: $79 membership fee pays for itself in just one night.
12. The Van Life App
An app by van lifers for van lifers and used by van lifers. The Van Life App not only ties the community together, but it also provides information on camp sites, laundromats, gyms, dump stations, water fill up stations, wifi, and everything you could possibly need when you are on the road.
If you want to access the community section, it is worth it especially if you are a solo van lifer. The best part is being able to connect with other van lifers in your area and learn about van life gatherings.
Apps to Find the Best Jobs for Van Life
13. Cool Works
My new favorite website, especially if you ever had a dream of just living for a season in a national park and make some money while you are doing it. Cool Works is great to find seasonal jobs that will even provide housing or a spot for you to camp long term for free! Also, it is a perfect way to save money quickly to hit the road again when the seasons change.
Find meaningful work that brings you closer to nature, and allows you to live your van life dream.
14. Fiverr or Upwork for Freelancing Gigs
Are you a graphic designer, copywriter, or web designer? Well, there are plenty of careers and jobs you can find that are remote, or you can make your own job freelancing and finding opportunities on Fiverr or Upwork.
There are also may great job boards to find remote work in a variety of fields. The above are just a few places to get you started.
There are so many great apps and websites that will help make your seamless transition into van life in your camper van. While I am in the middle of building out my Promaster, I have used many of these apps when on the road in my minivan and camping. Hope these Apps work for you and help you find anything and everything you need for living your dream of van life.
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