I have spent quite a bit of time sorting out the travel tools that are available for RV planning and travel. I will take a bit of time to talk about a few that for me are the more important ones.
RV Trip Wizard
This is my primary trip planning application. (Cost: $59 / Year)
- The biggest advantage for me is that it is a PC application, so I can work fast and explore more that I could with a phone. The biggest negative is that an internet connection is required. If you spend a lot of time in National Parks or boondocking, you are stuck until you find a friendly McDonalds or Starbucks.
- There are apps available for Android and IOS that allow you to view a planned route. When using the app, you can get turn-by-turn directions to your next destination, with the option to use “RV Safe Routing,” or Google Maps. I have found the RV Safe Routing to be less reliable that Google Maps, and since my truck has Android Auto, all the google maps functions are available on the large display in the dash.
- In the past year the application was consolidated with RV Life Pro, and includes reviews, RV Maintenance Tracker, and connection to various RV Brand Forums.
Campendium is a comprehensive database of campgrounds, Dumps and Overnight Parking. (Cost: $49 / Year)
- For me the biggest advantage is that it loads quickly, uses little bandwidth and thus I can search for a dump or overnight while stopped by the side of the road. If that is all I used it for, it is well worth $20! But it seems that Campendium has a different user base from Trip Wizard, and it is valuable to me for the different perspective.
- There is a wide variety of filters to narrow the search for just the campground you require. These include cell phone coverage and altitude.
- Campendium recently merged with Roadpass which includes
- Roadtrippers, another planning app, with many pre-planned road trips.
- ToGo RV, a source of documentation for your specific RV and links to manufacturer resources, checklists, and video courses on maintenance and management. There is also a collection of offers and discounts that change from time to time
- RVillage, an RV-focused social media app.
- A lot of these resources are available without a subscription, and this is where I direct new or future RV owners to learn the ropes. Both IOS and Android mobile apps are available.
Allstays is a unique app with a unique user interface. (Cost $37 / Year)
- It does not have a trip planner.
- There are several specialty Mini Maps showing Walmart parking, truck washes and rest stops. These are its best value, as the camping information is not as current or accurate as the previous sources.
Harvest Hosts merged with Boondockers Welcome in the past year, and is now WAY overpriced. (Cost: $169 / Year; Harvest Hosts only $99 / Year)
- Before the merger, Boondockers Welcome was a directory of approximately 3,000 private individuals that made their property available for overnight parking at no cost. At the original annual cost of $30, it was a great deal and I have used it often.
- However, be aware that after the merger, the quality of service has declined and the cost has gone through the roof. You can no longer get a boonedockers-only subscription. It is very likely that when my current subscription expires I will not renew.
- Harvest Hosts are farms, wineries, museums and other attractions that also offered free overnight stays, with the expectation you would purchase their goods and services. I have had that membership for several years, and have used it enough to offset the cost, originally $80 / year.
This is the reservation site for most federal campgrounds like COE, historic sites, national forrests and most national parks. Be advised the those national parks operated by concessionaires have separate reservation systems (and charge a lot more money!)
Originally there was only one Passport America, but now there are two. The originator gave control to his two children, but they could not collaborate, so now there is passportamerica.com and passport-america.com. They look very similiar. Even the logos are similar, except in one the covered wagon faces right, and in the other, left. Both will give you 50% off the standard campground rate, but each campground can decide when and for how many nights — usually no more than two, and their busy season is blocked. I think the content is also the same, but I have not taken the time to check. The annual cost for both is $44, with the same multi-year discounts. Just remember that joining one does not give you access to the other. So mind the hyphen!
GasBuddy is my go-to source for finding the lowest cost gas in any area. Enter a city and it will tell you gas prices for most stations with the date and time of the last report. Google Maps also reports gas prices, but it is not as easy to use or accurate as GasBuddy. I use it daily when traveling. GasBuddy also offers opportunities for rebates and discounts, but I have discovered even the discounted prices are not as good as Sam’s Club, Costco, and the Kroger fuel network.
Don’t leave home without it, particularly if you have an android phone and your vehicle supports Android Auto. It functions seamlessly and the map and interface is on your dash. Although Waze is also owned by Google, I have found Maps to be much more accurate.
National Park Service
The NPS is a source for details on all national parks. However they do not take reservations. If there is a reservation link it will send you off to recreation.gov or the concessionaire website.
This is probably the least useful of all the sites. However, since some state use Reserve America for their state parks, the free account is worth the trouble of signing up. They do remember who you are and your details, so if you have reserved a spot in Texas, Oregon ( and others) will know you.