The rise of the RV apps
Mobile app technology has changed the way we camp – for the better, and RV apps make the life of travellers easier.
It’s hard to argue against the fact that the most influential technological advancements of the past few decades have been in mobile communications technology. Nowadays, mobile phones, tablets and computers are used extensively by the majority of the population for all manner of tasks – including the way we travel.
For some, the lure of the great outdoors is to get away from technology but, for others, the benefits technology can have on planning, navigation, safety and enjoyment of camping far outweighs any negatives.
Having the right tool for the job is essential in all aspects of life and RV tech is no different.
There are apps to help us navigate around Australia, stay safe, satisfy our curiosity, and even learn more about our vehicle and its 12V battery. Finally, there are even apps to control your caravan. With literally thousands to choose from, where do you start? Read on to find out about some of the most useful apps for RV travellers.
The RV apps can be divided into the following categories:
Map or GPS based apps for navigation and finding all things on the road
This group of apps helps us find roads, campsites, fuel stations and fuel prices, other facilities, such as public toilets. Other apps in this category include Wi-Fi Finder, Waze (real time traffic conditions and road alerts) and AllTrails App (a must for hikers).
Here are some most popular apps:
$7.99 (iOS and Android)
Drawing on the largest crowd-sourced database of campgrounds, caravan parks, dump points and other useful locations, WikiCamps is a must-have app for all RVers. It is easy to find locations on both the maps and lists, and the ability to see reviews and star-ratings for various locations is also great. One of the best features is that WikiCamps can be used offline once the content has been downloaded to your device, so there’ll be no worries even if you are well off the beaten track.
$49.99 (iOS and Android)
Nothing ruins a good road trip quicker than an argument about which way to go to get to your destination. Thankfully, Hema has produced a fantastic app to take the stress out of navigating when on the road. The app features detailed topographic maps as well as 690,000 km of 4WD tracks. The app allows users to access road, terrain and satellite mapping to boost your navigational capabilities. Another handy feature is the ability to overlay a live weather view over the top of the map so you can see what’s happening at your destination before you get there. While the app is targeted more towards off-road navigation, on-road users will still find heaps for use, especially with the 40,000 points of interest allowing on and off-road travellers to find exactly what they need nearby.
If you still prefer a good old paper road atlas, we’ve got you covered as well.
NATIONAL PUBLIC TOILET MAP
Free (iOS and Android)
Exploring new and exciting places is one of the many joys of hitting the road. A sure-fire way to ruin any trip is finding yourself caught out, without a toilet in sight. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go! Thankfully, the National Public Toilet Map app exists with maps of the locations of over 19,000 public toilets Australia wide. Download this one before you need it. Your future self will thank you for it later.
Keeping track of expenses is essential for managing any trip budget and when you’re RVing, fuel is one of the biggest expenses, so knowing how much you have spent becomes even more paramount. The Fuel Monitor app has a number of great features for tracking your spending on all vehicle related expenses. Not only that, but it is also very easy to track fuel consumption and cost per kilometer – all very useful stats when trying to keep to a budget. The Fuel Monitor app is currently only available on iOS but a range of similar apps exist for Android users.
GPS based apps for planning, tracking and lodging your trip
We hit the road to make some memories and to share them with the loved ones. Whether you are travelling solo, with family or with a group of friends, these apps will allow you to cherish and share the memories of your journey.
From Roadtrippers (trip planning app) to Memory Map, Track My Tour, LiveTrekker – the choice is yours!
Freemium (iOS and Android); $29.99 / year paid version with more options available
Plan your trip in the US, Canada, New Zealand or Australia with the Roadtrippers app. Discover the places you even did not know existed and be amazed at your discoveries. Adjust your planning to match your interests, calculate distances and driving times. You can also save your itinerary and share it with your friends.
Safety related apps
Ever changing weather and unpredictable nature, unplanned meetings with Australian animals and insects make these apps an essential component of your first aid kit. There are Fire Safety, Emergency, Weather, Willy-Weather, Beachsafe, Australian Bites and Stings, WIRES Wildlife Rescue App, and more.
Free (iOS and Android)
The Emergency+ app has been developed by Australian emergency services and is simple to use in an emergency. The app uses GPS functionality to help a caller provide more accurate information to triple zero operators. Calls to triple zero or the SES can be made directly through the app. For RV’s the built in map and latitude/ longitude coordinates are also a handy feature, especially when travelling in an unfamiliar location. This is a simple app, which hopefully you won’t need to use, but if you do, you’re sure to be glad your downloaded it!
Free (iOS and Android)
The VicEmergency app is just one example of an emergency warning and information service app. While this specific example is based around incidents that occur in Victoria, similar apps exist for other states. These apps provide maps of areas which may be affected by a current emergency or warning. Watch zones can be setup, allowing automatic notifications of any current emergencies to be sent directly to your device for your specified area. An essential tool when at home or on the road.
Free (iOS and Android)
Knowing what weather an area has seen and may see in the coming days is essential for maximising your time and safety when you’re on the road. A plethora of weather apps exist, but few are as accurate as the BOM Weather app. This is the official app of the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology so the data and forecasts are obtained through high-tech modelling and thousands of weather stations. An easily accessible radar image is great for seeing if rain is on the way. The app also provides up-do-date warnings and gives users the ability to save multiple locations.
Apps for entertainment and education on the road
Trips around Australia enrich us with experiences and knowledge about this great country, it’s flora and fauna. Great news – there’s no need to take with you heavy compendiums and encyclopedias if you have Australian Birds Guide, Australian Wildflowers and Night Sky apps installed on your phone.
Further, you can always find the local attractions with Tripadviser and make your kids’ journey even more exciting playing Geocatching, which is Word’s largest treasure hunt.
Free (iOS). In-app purchases available
A night out in the tent or camper is almost incomplete without a spot of star-gazing. And while staring aimlessly into the night’s sky does have its appeal, knowing exactly what you’re looking at can be both intriguing and fascinating. Enter the Night Sky app. An augmented reality app which gives the user their own personal, handheld planetarium. Planets, constellations and satellites are all easily identifiable using the app and help to make this age old pastime both educational and entertaining.
While we are enjoying freedoms of life on the road, somebody must pack the caravan and keep an eye on the money spent and saved. Housekeeping apps like Trip Expense Manager, TravelSpend, Trail Wallet and Camping Checklist will keep you out of trouble!
Free (iOS and Android)
Don’t reinvent the wheel – just find the wheel template checklist and adjust it to match your needs. Assign separate tasks to your family and start packing! Whether you are travelling with a tent or in a caravan, there is a checklist for you. The great thing is the ability to access the checklist from different devices, including your laptop.
Device-managing RV apps
Or shall we call this category app-managed devices? These devices help travellers learn more about their 4WD, caravan and 12V battery. Finally, there are even apps to control your caravan.
The difference of this category is that the apps require not only the mobile phone but also a smart piece of equipment with built-in Bluetooth chip to convey the information to the user.
There are apps to manage your lithium battery (Invicta Lithium app), to check the temperature of your fridge (Dometic), open and clause awnings (Carefree Connects), to monitor your 12V deep cycle battery (BatteryCheck) and to control multiple functions of your caravan (JHub, Odyssey).
A small device placed on your secondary battery (also known as house battery) will talk to your smartphone sending the data on battery voltage, temperature, state of charge, state of health and more.
While the original BatteryCheck has been around for 6 years, two new models became available in 2019, featuring new and improved app BatteryCheck100+PRO. Now you can be 100% sure your battery is in good health and has enough power for your next adventure.
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