Apps, Websites & Top Road Trip Resources for RVers
From campsite finders to researching fun activities or routes!

By: Kelly Laustsen & David Somach

It is hard to imagine planning a trip without the internet or a smartphone. We do minimal planning before a van trip, especially longer trips, as we rely on researching while on the road and usually only plan a day ahead. 

When we traveled around the U.S. and Canada for a year, we left home with a basic framework for the trip and planned accommodations for just the first few nights. For shorter trips, we usually at least have an idea of where we’ll stay each night, but figure out meal stops, fuel, water fills and dump stations, and specific activities as we go.

We have a cell phone signal booster in our van and are so rarely without cell service we’ve become accustomed to researching while driving or before bed. 

Our Weboost includes an external antenna, which is installed on the rear of our van above our orange recovery tracks.

The list of apps and websites we use is always growing and evolving, but the ones below include some of our current favorites. We love discovering new resources, so please share any of your go-tos in the comments!

Resources for Finding RV Overnight Options

We spend the majority of our nights in the van boondocking on public land, with occasional nights at paid campgrounds, Walmarts, or other city spots. 

While there are lots of websites and apps with free camping spots, we always cross-reference multiple sites and check land ownership maps to make sure we are in a legal camp spot. We have discovered several times that a camp spot we found online isn’t actually on public land, or doesn’t meet specific restrictions, like distance from a river or the road.

Our Revel van on a recent trip through Idaho.

Here are our go-to RV camping apps & websites:

  • iOverlander: This is our most used app when on the road, and includes places to stay as well as dump stations, water fills, fuel stations, attractions, mechanics, propane fills, and more. It can be a little hard to browse the map, but looking for locations near your current location is very straightforward. This is the most comprehensive app we’ve found and had the best coverage when we were on our year-long trip. We used it to find at least half the places we stayed, and it led us to some epic views and off-the-path spots we wouldn’t have found on our own.
  • Campendium: This website includes both free and paid camping spots, organized by public land, RV parks, and overnight RV parking. We find the photos and reviews very helpful, and the map of sites is easy to navigate.
  • Free Campsites: This website provides user-contributed campsites organized by whether they are free, paid, or require a permit. The website provides only basic information and short reviews, but has good coverage in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Walmart Locator: When traveling through cities, we most often stay at Walmarts or truck stops. The website includes a store directory and map indicating which Walmarts allows overnight parking. We always call the store ahead of our arrival to confirm, but this website is a great first resource to use. 
  • Harvest Hosts: Harvest Hosts requires an annual paid membership and connects self-contained RVers with farms, breweries, wineries, and other unique locations for one-night stays. There is an expectation that you support the business you stay at, but we are always excited to do so and pick places we are eager to visit. Some hosts ask that you book in advance, but we’ve also found plenty of places that take last-minute reservations.
  • onX Offroad: We started using onX Offroad on our year-long trip and liked it so much that David now works there! onX now offers a few apps with different audiences and uses, but we most heavily use onX Offroad to look at land ownership maps and confirm we are camping on public land. We’ve also recently started using it to scout new areas to camp.
  • Freeroam: This website is primarily intended for finding campsites and is organized by public and private campgrounds. However, we’ve primarily used it for the map layers it provides, including cell phone coverage by carrier. Sometimes it is important for us to be sure we’ll have service, whether for trip planning or other needs, so it is helpful to see if the area we are planning to stay has coverage.

In addition, we rely on internet searches and phone calls to find spots or confirm where we are allowed to camp. We recently spent a night camping outside Yellowstone National Park in Gallatin National Forest. We found the spot on iOverlander, then Googled “Gallatin National Forest dispersed camping” to confirm where we were allowed to camp, which led us to a map on the Forest Service’s website showing where dispersed camping spots are and restrictions in the Gardiner area. 

When looking for urban camping spots, we’ll often search for truck stops, Cracker Barrels, and Walmarts, and call around until we find somewhere that allows overnight parking.

(Note: If you are a Winnebago owner, the GoLife Perks program provides special offers and discounts to multiple camping memberships, including Harvest Hosts. Learn more here.)

Boondocking spot in Wyoming with great sunset views.

Fuel Apps & Tips

We use the app Gas Buddy to find gas stations and compare prices, as fuel costs can vary widely, especially between cities and states. 

We also use several apps that offer cash back on gas station stops, including Upside and gas-station specific apps. 

When on a long road trip, we plan our fuel stops at least 100 miles out from needing to stop so we can coordinate a fill-up with a water fill/dump station visit or a food break. We have found that gas stations will sometimes offer a water fill or provide a dump station for a small fee, which is often waived when you purchase fuel. 

Read more fuel-saving tips in this article.

Resources for Finding Water Fill/Dump Stations

The availability of water fills and dump stations varies significantly around the U.S. and Canada. We had no problems easily finding convenient, free stops in the west and around recreational areas, but found the options much more limited on the east coast and in the south, requiring us to plan ahead and stop before we really needed to. 

We primarily use the website and the iOverlander app to find stations. provides maps by state or province and indicates whether spots are free or paid. For most sites it includes details, like whether water is available, whether the spot is seasonal, and where specifically the dump is located.  

Filling up water while enjoying the mountain views in Canada.

Apps & Resources for Finding Activities while Traveling

We most enjoy planning our activities when we travel and finding unique things to do. We rely on a lot of resources, including:

  • AllTrails: We rely heavily on this website and app for finding hikes. We like that you can search by location and filter by length, activity, rating, and other characteristics.
  • Trailforks: This website and app includes bike trails and routes, as well as recent trail reports. We primarily have used Trailforks for mountain biking and gravel rides, and like that it shows trail difficulty and includes photos.
  • Tripadvisor: When visiting a new city, we’ll start with Tripadvisor to get a lay of the land and figure out the most popular activities that we don’t want to miss, including museums, parks, and historical attractions. Tripadvisor led us to the Old Idaho Penitentiary in Boise, which we likely wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.
  • The Milepost: This website and printed book is updated every year with routes, attractions, and travel tips for Alaska, including typical routes between the lower 48 and Alaska. We especially loved using the Milepost’s recommended routes and following along with the mile-by-mile descriptions of the scenery, best places to see wildlife or pick berries, and historical landmarks.
  • Event calendars: We’ll often do an internet search to find event calendars for cities and towns, which has helped us discover farmers markets, concerts, art festivals, trivia nights, and more.
  • Blogs: We love reading travel blogs to get recommendations and plan where to go and what to do when we get there. When planning our year-long trip, we relied heavily on recommendations from friends and other online resources to map out our route and itinerary. We also like reading blogs to find interesting restaurants and coffee shops. When visiting a new national park, we’ll look for articles and posts to help us figure out what hikes to do and attractions to see.

In addition, we rely on some of the usual resources like Google reviews, Yelp, and National Park websites.

Returning to the van after a backpacking trip in Nevada we planned using AllTrails.
We used the Milepost to find interesting stops in Canada on our way home from Alaska, including the Sign Post Forest.

We appreciate how easy the internet and smartphones have made travel planning while on the road and are always finding new sites and sources.

Our favorite resources for creating an amazing trip are the people we meet while on the road. We love getting recommendations from other travelers and locals, and like keeping our plans flexible so we are free to adapt when someone suggests we stop somewhere we hadn’t planned on. Some of our favorite experiences during our travels are memorable because of someone we met along the way.

What are your favorite travel resources and RVer apps?


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