Hey, van lifers! Ready for that next road trip? Before you rev up your engine, make sure you’re packed with the best apps for van life to make your journey smooth and fun. From finding the perfect parking spot to meeting new friends, these apps have got you covered.
I spent nearly a year living full-time in my camper van and realized how important mobile apps are to getting things done. It’s much easier to grab your phone to find that place to park, fill up propane, or find interesting things nearby to do. There are tons of van life apps out there to make living the van life easier, here is our list of favorite van life apps.
Let’s dive in!
Best Van Life Apps for Finding Where to Park
Figuring out where you’re going to park overnight is one of the biggest considerations when you’re living van life. Lucky for you, there are apps to help you find campsites to get just the right spot for your rolling home.
Below is a short list of the most useful apps to find overnight parking, but for a comprehensive list be sure to check out our ultimate guide to finding free camping and parking.
If I could only use one van life app, Sēkr would be it. This is a great app for finding places to park, especially hidden spots for stealth camping. Even better, you have the ability to see other van lifers in your area to connect and message with. This can be turned off if you prefer not to be seen.
The app also offers a community calendar where you can find van life events, meet-ups, and caravans. Upgrading to the premium version gives you access to offline maps, public land camping, and cell service info.
The Dyrt has an enormous database of campgrounds, perfect for finding your next parking spot. Their list of paid campgrounds, RV parks, and parking spots is huge. They do show some public camping options but it’s much more limited than other apps.
Many of these apps (The Dyrt included) have user-submitted reviews about each parking spot, providing information such as how good the cell service is, what amenities they offer, etc. The premium version lets you download maps, get campground discounts, and find public lands for boondocking. But, remember that it costs a bit extra for this and that there is a free version of the dyrt.
With Harvest Hosts, you get to park at wineries, breweries, and even golf courses! Sounds dreamy, right? Just note that you need an annual membership and should buy something from your host as a thank-you.
Harvest Hosts is a must-have for any van lifer who is frequenting the east coast of the US where public lands are much less prevalent. Also, keep in mind that these places won’t have showers or bathrooms, so you’ll need to be in a camper van that has a toilet.
iOverlander is not just about parking; it’s like a survival guide on wheels! It’s a van life app for finding water, dump stations, propane fill spots, laundromats, etc. It claims the largest worldwide campsite database and similar to other apps has user-submitted reviews and photos for many locations.
The user interface of the app isn’t as pretty as some other ones but the huge database makes it worth checking out. iOverlander has a lot of stealth camping options but be sure to check how recent the reviews are before putting all of your eggs in one basket.
Campendium is similar to iOverlander in many ways, providing user-submitted reviews for a ton of paid and free parking options. It has map overlays for a variety of amenities such as propane refill stations, dump stations, and cell service info.
The only catch? Since it’s user-based, some info might be outdated. I prefer the user interface of Campendium to iOverlander but it’s worth checking both as the database for each is different.
Think of Vanly as Airbnb for van parking. Hosts offer driveways or unique places for a nightly fee and some even offer showers, bathrooms, and shore power. It’s great but remember, each camp spot comes with its own rules and costs.
Vanly is pretty new on the market so I don’t have a lot of experience with it but it’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re new to van life and don’t feel confident about finding a great spot on public land, Vanly can work as a great backup.
As you gain experience with these apps you’ll likely build a strategy that works for you. Generally, I’d try to have a primary spot and a backup in case the first spot didn’t work out for some reason. I check Sēkr first, then Campendium, and then iOverlander before moving on to the others.
Fun Things to Do
Life on the road isn’t all about driving; you gotta have fun too! You’ll likely know what apps provide info for the activities you enjoy anyway, but here are a few that fit the bill for me.
Love hiking? AllTrails has a huge database of trails that provide the trail length, difficulty, elevation change, trail description, user-submitted reviews, photos of the trail, and even the weather forecast.
You can filter by difficulty, dog-friendliness, views, and other factors. The premium account even lets you download trails in case you lose cell service while out on your hike.
If you’re into climbing, Mtn Project is for you. It has a database of climbs with information such as if it’s a boulder or top-rope climb, the difficulty, climb description, user-submitted photos, reviews, and even directions to find it.
It’s free to download all of the climbs in your state, which is highly recommended since you don’t always know that you’ll have reliable cell service. It relies heavily on user input, which can sometimes be a miss. But if you’re a climber it’s a must-have.
This is your go-to app for anything about visiting national parks. With this app, you can book campsites, get permits, and find entry tickets. It’s super helpful, but remember that some popular spots get booked fast!
There are so many wonderful national parks in the US and it’s great to have a mobile way to see what’s nearby and book your ticket without needing to open a laptop.
Many van lifers are digital nomads, earning a living while on the road. Stay connected with these must-have apps for digital nomads.
Open Signal shows you cell coverage and internet speeds across the US. It’s super handy when you need strong internet for work but don’t know what the cell signal will be like where you’re going.
Many of the apps for finding parking will have some information about the cell service, but if you need to be sure about the internet quality I’d recommend double-checking with Open Signal in advance.
The WiFi Map app lists places with free wifi, like Starbucks and Walmart, along with the quality of the connection. Public Wi-Fi isn’t always secure and this app helps secure your connection through the use of a VPN and will even notify you of public Wi-Fi hotspots nearby.
With their eSim service, you can stay connected in over 70 countries and the app even offers a speed test for your local connection.
Many van lifers get lonely while traveling. These apps help you meet new people, find community, and see what local events and happenings are going on nearby.
From board games to social gatherings, the Meetup app connects you with people who share your interests. I’ve attended hikes, volleyball games, business networking events, “after work” drinks get-togethers and many other meetups.
It’s a great way to meet locals and get that dose of socialization after days spent on the road in your own head or after a long bout of boondocking out on public land. I’ve even found van life specific events on the meetup app!
Sweatpals collects and posts fitness events like yoga, hiking, pickleball, and breathwork. It’s similar to Meetup but focuses on activities more than just socializing. This is a great way to meet other people while also staying fit. Be sure to check the details of each event as some activities might require special gear.
Random but important, these apps fill in the gaps to make van life as smooth as possible.
This is the go-to app for navigation and trip planning. Yet it has an additional feature that I absolutely love. As I explored new places in the van I constantly would meet people who would give me recommendations for attractions, things to see, places to eat, etc.
I started by putting these into a list but it quickly became unwieldy. A better solution is to open up Google Maps and drop a pin for the recommendation with a note on who recommended it. That way I could open up the app and see the exact location nearby of things people had recommended. Just remember, Google Maps can be data-heavy when used a lot.
Gas Buddy helps you find the cheapest fuel nearby. It can be really frustrating to fill up your tank and then realize a few miles down the road that the gas is significantly cheaper.
Gas Buddy prevents this from happening and helps you to save money. Gas Buddy shows you the prices at all of the gas stations in your area so you can find the best price. It really comes in handy.
Need a break from the van? Trusted Housesitters lets you stay in homes in exchange for pet-sitting. Van life brings so much freedom but sometimes you just want to have a reliable shower and the amenities of a standard home.
Hotels and Airbnb are great but can get expensive. Trusted Housesitters is a win-win situation. It can take a little time when you first start on the app as you build up positive reviews, but once you have a reliable reputation this can be a great way to get a respite from the confined space of a van.
An app that works just as well as a physical level? Yep, that’s BubbleLevel. Most van lifers have had the experience of parking for the night to realize that the van is tilting largely to one side or front-to-back.
I was surprised to realize that the BubbleLevel app when placed on my van’s kitchen counter, would help me to figure out where I needed to add a leveling block or two to make the van level and comfortable.
So there you have it, folks! The best van life apps to make your road life easier, more fun, and super connected. Safe travels!