15 Should-Have Van Life Apps – Bearfoot Idea


When it’s time to hit the street in your van, the world is your oyster. However let’s face it – that on the spot freedom could be a little overwhelming at first as a result of van life comes with a number of logistical planning. How do you discover locations to camp? How do you propose your route? How do you discover enjoyable issues to do, like mountaineering and mountain biking trails?

Fortunately there are tons of van life apps on the market that may make these duties a lot simpler. Under, you’ll uncover the most effective van life apps for locating campsites, native actions, low-cost gasoline, and extra.


  • Finest for: Discovering campsites, dump stations, showers, water refill, laundromats, and many others.
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

iOverlander is among the hottest van life apps on the market, particularly if you happen to’re taken with learn how to discover free campsites. It’s one of the complete crowdsourced databases of free tenting that we’ve discovered and it covers all of North America (together with Canada and Mexico). Customers can add pictures, an outline, and different info, like web availability, together with GPS coordinates. As a result of iOverlander is crowd-sourced, the app is consistently up to date with new info and up to date evaluations.

iOverlander can also be an amazing app for locating facilities like water refill, propane and dump stations, laundromats, showers, and extra. Whereas iOverlander doesn’t formally work offline, you’ll nonetheless be capable to see your location and close by dispersed tenting areas. You simply received’t be capable to see any person pictures or the map background while you zoom in. Though there are some paid campgrounds listed on iOverlander, if you happen to’re seeking to camp at established campgrounds, there are higher van life apps on the market.

iOverlander van life app


  • Finest for: Discovering campsites, neighborhood occasions & gatherings, connecting with close by van lifers
  • Value: Free / Sekr+ $1.99 monthly or $18.99 yearly
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

Sēkr (previously often known as The Van Life App) is a women-owned app constructed by fellow van lifers. Much like iOverlander, Sēkr makes use of crowd-sourced knowledge to offer campsite info, together with evaluations and pictures. We’ve discovered that Sēkr usually doesn’t have as many campsite evaluations as iOverlander, however the app is rising and getting extra sturdy every day.

The function we love about Sēkr that may’t be discovered on every other van life app is their “Neighborhood Calendar”. Right here you’ll find upcoming van life meetups and gatherings, caravan invites, and different alternatives to attach with different van lifers. Along with your Sēkr profile, you too can opt-in to see different Sēkr members in your normal space and ship good friend requests based mostly on shared pursuits.

Just lately, Sēkr launched a premium model (known as Sekr+) which permits customers to obtain maps and campsite data for offline use, provides overlay map layers for US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Administration land, and consists of overlays of protection maps for main US carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Cellular.

Sekr van life app

The Dyrt

  • Finest for: Discovering campgrounds, offline maps entry, and campground reductions (with Professional membership)
  • Value: Free / Dyrt Professional $35.99/yr – BFT readers get a FREE 30-day membership to The Dyrt PRO (use the code “Bearfoot” if signing up on cellular!)
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

The Dyrt is certainly one of our favourite van life apps for locating established campsites. It has complete listings for paid campgrounds together with private and non-private ones, in addition to some free dispersed tenting choices (though dispersed choices are extra restricted than different van life apps).

Their listings embrace evaluations, pictures, info on facilities, and extra. It’s also possible to search by required facilities – let’s say you want Wifi to get some work achieved or want a location with showers or perhaps a pet-friendly location, you may slim your search down utilizing all sorts of parameters.

With the free model of The Dyrt, you have got entry to go looking all the campgrounds within the database, however upgrading to the annual Dyrt Professional membership provides you all of that plus a street journey planner, entry to dispersed tenting map layers (our favourite perk!), offline map entry, and unique tenting reductions. You possibly can learn our full evaluation of the Dyrt Professional right here.

Bearfoot Idea readers can join a FREE 30-day membership to The Dyrt PRO (use code “Bearfoot” if signing up on cellular).

The Dyrt app

Harvest Hosts/Boondocker’s Welcome

  • Finest for: discovering distinctive campsites (similar to farms, wineries, and museums)
  • Value: $99/yr (Harvest Hosts), $79/yr (Boondocker’s Welcome), $169 (HH+BW) – BFT readers get 15% off HH and 15% off BW (code: BWFRIENDS15)
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

In case you’re on the lookout for distinctive locations to park in a single day, Harvest Hosts and Boondocker’s Welcome are two van life apps to take a look at. An annual Harvest Hosts membership permits you to park in a single day without cost at quite a lot of wineries, breweries, farms, museums, golf programs, and different points of interestUse this hyperlink to get 15% off your first yr with the code HHFRIENDS15. Buying one thing and supporting the small companies you camp at is inspired however not required.

Boondocker’s Welcome connects you with personal property house owners who welcome in a single day campers. These are sometimes in driveways, fields, or backyards and a few enable multiple-night stays. You will get 15% off your membership utilizing the code BWFRIENDS15. 

These apps as particularly useful while you’re in areas with out many different tenting choices, like New England and the East Coast the place dispersed tenting isn’t simply accessible, however one thing to bear in mind is that they do require you to be self-contained with a rest room.

A Sprinter van parked at a Harvest Host location at a field in Michigan
Tenting at a Harvest Hosts in Michigan

AllStays Camp & RV

  • Finest for: Discovering campsites, discovering alternate locations to camp (ex. casinos, relaxation stops, Walmarts)
  • Value: $9.99
  • Obtain: iOS (no Google Play app accessible)

AllStays Camp & RV is a paid app that you simply obtain to your cellphone. All Stays consists of paid and dispersed campsites, however for dispersed it’s not as complete because the earlier apps we point out. What we like about AllStays is that it additionally has different sorts of locations you may park without cost, together with Walmarts, rest-stops, and casinos, in addition to different facilities. As well as, you’ll find locations to refill water, RV dumps, and different providers that you simply usually want on the street.

One distinctive function you received’t discover from different van life apps is a peak filter – that is particularly useful for anybody with tall autos that must keep away from low clearance bridges or routes. If you need entry to their desktop model, you’ll pay an annual $34.95 price.

AllStays Camp & RV app
Screenshot: AllStays

Google Maps

  • Finest for: Navigation, offline maps, discovering eating places and different native facilities
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

Google Maps might seem to be a no brainer nevertheless it’s certainly one of our favourite instruments not just for navigation however for locating attention-grabbing issues to do within the areas we’re touring. For locating eating places and different native facilities, like locations to do laundry, for instance, I take advantage of Google Evaluations inside Maps. For locating different issues to do, I’ll simply flip to Google and kind “finest out of doors actions close to ….”

I additionally use Google Maps as a planning software as nicely – anytime I hear about a good looking mountaineering path or superior campsite, I’ll pin it on Google Maps. This takes the strain off of all the time having to plan within the second – generally I’ll simply open my Map and see what I’ve pinned within the space or alongside my route.

One other Google Maps trick is to make use of satellite tv for pc view to scope out the world from a fowl’s eye view. I take advantage of satellite tv for pc mode principally when on the lookout for campsites – after you have a location in thoughts, you may zoom in to see if the spot is massive sufficient for a number of vans, if it’s secluded, if there’s different camp spots close by, and many others.

It’s also possible to obtain Google Maps (in sections) for offline use which is tremendous useful for locating pre-planned campsites, trailheads, and many others. while you’re out of cell service.

Google Maps


For mountaineering, I really like utilizing AllTrails as a result of it has a database of over 200,000 path maps, plus, detailed path info, pictures, and up-to-date evaluations on virtually each path you might need. There’s a remark part that is filled with crowdsourced evaluations of the path, present circumstances, and recommendation from hikers who know the world nicely. Even the free model is extraordinarily helpful for saving hikes and navigation (when you have got cell service).

The advantage of upgrading to an AllTrails Professional account is the skill to obtain path maps forward of time for offline use, notifications if you happen to stray off-route, and a Lifeline function that permits you to simply ship data to your security contacts to allow them to hold monitor of you on hikes (and even be notified if you happen to don’t present up at your deliberate vacation spot in time). Once I first hit the street, I used the free model of the app, however rapidly upgraded to Professional and have by no means appeared again. Since I’m usually mountaineering in unfamiliar areas, I really like having the ability to obtain a number of path maps forward of time (you by no means know while you’re going to lose service) and as a solo feminine van-lifer & hiker, the Lifeline function provides my household peace of thoughts.

Bearfoot Idea readers can get a FREE 7-Day Trial of AllTrails Professional utilizing this hyperlink (upon signing up, click on the inexperienced “Strive Professional for Free” button).

AllTrails app

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is one other nice app for locating mountaineering trails, monitoring your self whereas mountaineering, and it could act as a substitute for carrying a separate GPS gadget whereas adventuring. Whereas we nonetheless choose AllTrails for locating new mountaineering trails, Gaia has extra sturdy options while you’re really mountaineering, like a backtrack function you should utilize to retrace your steps and customized waypoint icons.

On account of Gaia’s crowd-sourced map layers, it usually consists of particulars, waypoints, and landmarks at different apps might not present. We’d suggest their annual membership (BFT readers get 20% off Premium) so you may obtain offline maps and have entry to extra map layers.

Gaia GPS app


  • Finest for: discovering native mountain biking, e-bike, and gravel bike trails
  • Value: $36/yr
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

For mountain biking, our favourite useful resource for locating trails is TrailForks. Though the desktop model is free, the app prices $36/yr with a purpose to use it outdoors of your “dwelling area”. TrailForks is essentially the most complete mountain biking app on the market with over 400,000 MTB trails. It’s also possible to simply filter to e-bike-friendly trails and see current path reviews.

If you need a free mountain biking app, take a look at MTB Challenge. While you’re on wi-fi, you may obtain the database for a complete state. Then while you’re offline, you may simply discover close by mountain bike trails with data on problem, elevation profile, and present circumstances. Nonetheless, MTB Challenge doesn’t have fairly as many trails listed as TrailForks.

TrailForks mountain biking app


  • Finest for: reserving Nationwide Park campgrounds, backcountry permits, timed entry tickets, and many others.
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

In case you plan on visiting Nationwide Parks or widespread federal lands throughout your van travels, the Recreation.gov app is a should. In partnership with 12 totally different federal businesses (together with the Park Service, Bureau of Land Administration, and Forest Service), this app permits you to ebook paid campsites inside parks, purchase timed-entry tickets for relevant Parks, and ebook superior permits for different out of doors actions. Listed below are a number of examples of campgrounds and actions that required reserving:

Whereas you too can ebook permits and campsites on a desktop, the app is nice for on-the-go bookings.

Recreation.gov app

Fuel Buddy

  • Finest for: Discovering the most affordable gasoline in your route
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

Fuel is among the greatest bills you’ll have on the street, so discovering methods to save cash on gasoline is vital. Fuel Buddy is a necessary van life app for locating the most affordable gasoline costs. Merely open the app and GasBuddy will pull up the closest gasoline stations and their costs. You possibly can kind by worth, or toggle to view on a map. In case you’re planning your route, you may search by location or zoom out on the map to see if it’s higher to refill now or wait till the subsequent city. Utilizing Fuel Buddy, I’ve usually discovered gasoline stations which might be $.25-$1 cheaper than the typical – under, I used to be in a position to save $1/gallon by ready to refill till after I left city.

Gas Buddy app


  • Finest for: Getting money again on gasoline, grocery, and restaurant purchases
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

One other means to save cash on the street is thru the app Upside. Upside companions with sure gasoline stations supply money again on purchases, usually as much as 15 cents/gallon. Whereas this may not seem to be a big quantity, it provides up over time! The draw back to Upside (see what I did there?) is that it’s not accessible in all places, so I usually toggle between Fuel Buddy and Upside to see the place I can discover the most effective deal on gasoline. Just lately Upside additionally expanded its money again choices to incorporate sure grocery shops and eating places.

Upside app

Open Sign

  • Finest for: scouting areas with cell sign, web pace exams, finding cell towers
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

In case you work remotely from the street, Open Sign is a must have van life app. With Open Sign, you may simply run web pace exams with the faucet of a button and you may run video exams for any calls. In case you’re attempting to determine which campsite has the strongest sign, you should utilize their interactive map to go looking by location and pull up protection maps for Verizon, AT&T, and T-Cellular. In case you use a booster that must be pointed towards the closest cellular phone tower, Open Sign may also make it easier to find towers.

Open Signal app


  • Finest for: Downloading audiobooks & ebooks
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

Earlier than you hit the street, head to your native library to snag a free library card (if you happen to don’t have already got one). With the Libby app, you may hyperlink your library card and entry hundreds of free audiobooks and e-books to obtain to your cellphone and/or Kindle. Bodily books can take up a number of room in a van, so switching to a Kindle is a simple solution to keep well-read with out dropping cupboard space. We additionally love listening to audiobooks on lengthy drives, and all Libby e-books and audiobooks could be learn even while you lose cell sign. Plus, utilizing Libby is an effective way to assist public libraries. Win, win!

Libby app

EPA AirNow

  • Finest for: Checking air high quality index (AQI) and seeing real-time smoke maps
  • Value: Free
  • Obtain: iOS and Google Play

Wildfire season is an unlucky actuality of dwelling on the street, however AirNow is a free, EPA-run app the place you may rapidly get present air high quality circumstances based mostly in your location and zoom out on a map to see AQI elsewhere. It’s also possible to toggle to see a smoke map and present wildfires throughout the nation. This app is useful to see present areas to keep away from, or the place to flee if you end up dodging poor air high quality on the street.

AirNow app

Are there any van life apps that we didn’t point out above? Share your ideas and experiences down within the feedback and make sure that to join our van life e-newsletter right here.


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