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9 Best Van Life Apps in 2024

Updated: 2 days ago



Intro to the "Best Van Life Apps 2024" List


First off - there are no affiliated links and we are not making $$$ off this article. 


By the time you finished this article, you have all the best van life apps you'll need for your daily essentials. You will be equipped with the apps needed to help you get around and live Van Life to the MAX. We picked the best app in each category, because that's all you need.


Since 2020, we've built over 40 camper vans, and with each client we send them a few things:


  1. Their newly finished van

  2. A written camper van user guide

  3. A 45 minute video tutorial that matches the user guide

  4. Goodie-bag with the van life essentials

  5. The knowledge to hit the road


Through this experience, we've decided to continue our desire to set up our van life clients for success but also share the wealth of knowledge to build the van life community. 


This Van Life article is for people who travel in camper vans, RVs, overlanders, or are just good ol' road-trippers.

brooklyn campervans banner. custom vans custom life

Why Van Life Apps Are Important


In 2014, I road tripped across North America and slept in the front seat of my car for 4 months. The only app I used was Google Maps. I had a great trip, but boy I wish I read this article and that it was 2024.


Fast forward to 2020, and Oliver and I road tripped in a camper van all across US and Mexico. The amount of new apps that came out was a game changer. We were all set with daily chores - places to sleep, where to refill water, travel planning, internet availability and so on.


Now in 2024 there are services and apps catered to Van Life to enhance the experience beyond just necessities of getting from point A to B. There are Van Life experience apps.


Let's get started on the top van life apps of 2024


We are going to categorize this a few ways...because what's the point of downloading the same apps for the same task. Here are the categories


  1. Best Van Life Overnight Parking App - Free. Winner: iOverlander

  2. Best Van Life Parking App - Paid. Winner: Harvest Hosts

  3. Best Van Life App For Gas. Winner: Gas Buddy

  4. Best Road Trip Weather App Winner: Clime NOOA Live Radar

  5. Best App For Finding Hiking Trails. Winner: Alltrails

  6. Best App For Not Crashing into a Bridge. Winner: Hammer

  7. Best Van Life Community App. Winner : Sekr

  8. Scroll down to see 8 and 9!

See details, links, runner ups, and bonus apps below!


Best Van Life Overnight Parking App - Free

Download: iOs and Android

screenshot of iOverlander app, best app for overnight parking, and free

iOverlander: This is my tried and true - the old-reliable and favorite van life app of all time. In 2020 we went all across US and Mexico and boondocked the entire way - no paid campgrounds. No money spent, completely free camping out in nature. Think of this like a crowdsourced Google maps where people leave reviews & photos of everything you need.


Where to find free boondocking and places to sleep overnight: Including detailed reviews and photos. People share information about safety, cell service, ease of access.


Beyond free spots and wild camping there are also user generated content on:


  • Where to find paid camp sites.

  • Where to refill you potable water or propane tank.

  • ...plus 20 other categories that are not as commonly on there i.e. dump stations, rv parks, gas stations etc.


This free app is a nonprofit project with no hidden agenda, which makes the community so great and helpful. You truly get a sense of people helping people out, like the old days of the rock climbing community.


Pros

  • It's a free vanlife app and it is crowd-sourced.

  • It's based on a review system. People share info on cell coverage, safety, and rate the spots with no ulterior motive.

  • It's got a wonderful and big community

  • It's the best van life app for free camping and place to boondock. This is also the best app to save money.

  • There's generally plenty of absolutely beautiful free spots on iOverlander near crowded national parks that typically needs to be reserved months in advance.


Cons:

  • There are no paid workers finding spots and writing reviews and vetting the spots. Sometimes the spots you find are way outdated and closed by the time you get there.

Best Van Life Parking App - Paid

Download: iOs and Google Play 

screen shot of harvest host app, best app for van life over night parking

Harvest Host: If you haven't heard of Harvest Host - well I remember the first time I experienced, and it was...life-changing.


My first time I used Harvest Host, I got into a farm late at night. The host welcomed me in the dark, and told me to park anywhere on the grass. In the morning, I woke up to seeing an Alpaca right in front of my camper van.


In the past, where to sleep was all dependent on what the destination was. Now, where to sleep IS the destination.


Harvest Host is an app where you can stay in farms, vineyards, breweries, and other wonderful destinations for free once you pay the annual membership. You are expected to spend a few bucks on merchandise, like wine from the vineyard etc.


Pros

  • There are so many incredible experiences in Harvest Hosts in each state

  • It's safe. There's more of sense of safety sleeping at night knowing that there is a organization behind it, then one person's reviews about a location in the middle of nowhere

  • They may have water fill-up or electrical hook up depending on the location


Cons

  • It costs $84 a year or $152 if you want to include private properties, golf resorts, and country clubs. You are also expected to buy at where you stay, which can add up.

  • There's no guarantee of any amenities.



Harvest host prices and plans
Prices on desktop may vary compared to mobile


Best Van Life App For Gas

Download: iOs and Android

screenshots of gas buddy up on saving gas for roadtrips and van life

Gas Buddy take the W! Gas adds up and there's always a guessing game of where are the cheapest gas stations. If you're driving a lot, gas is generally one of the biggest expenses you'll have while traveling. Saving money on gas adds up.


You can see the prices of gas stations on the map, and if you're planning your road trip, you can search by location and see which is the best town to fill up gas, and which is the best station in town to save to some money.


Overall, GasBuddy is a great van life app because it helps them save money on fuel, plan their route strategically, earn rewards, contribute to a community of fellow travelers, and find gas stations that meet their needs. It's another app built on user-generated content, which we love.


Best Road Trip Weather App

Clime NOAA Weather Radar Live Download: iOs and Android


NOAA radar screenshots, best road trip weather app interface

Clime NOAA Weather Radar Live: When we roadtripped in our camper van in 2021, we started off with 7 days of rain. The entire nation was raining and snowing endlessly - even Texas had the polar vortex. It was a weird time, and finally we drove 1000 miles to Sunny 72 degree Florida.


Now that was a worse case scenario. Besides that, we usually just dodge the rain. We use the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather app to get real time live radar and accurate forecasts. The app delivers reliable weather data directly from the National Weather Service (NWS), ensuring users have access to the most accurate and authoritative information available. It's fantastic, and we highly recommend it. Just don't use AccuWeather.


Best App For Finding Hiking Trails

Alltrails Download: iOs and Android


Best hiking app for van lifers

Alltrails takes the cake, hands-down! I mean Apple has called it "The App of The Year". It's got 400,000+ curated trails, 65 million users, and over a billion logged miles of hiking.

I love any apps that has tons of user generated content i.e. Google Maps. With AllTrails, you get to see plenty of reviews, photos, and stories from hikers who have experienced the trail.


The app also shows details like:

  • Trail Length

  • Trail Maps

  • Elevation Gain

  • Difficulty Level

  • User Ratings

  • User Reviews


Overall, AllTrails is a great app for finding hiking trails because of its extensive trail database, detailed trail information, customizable search filters, offline maps, GPS tracking, and vibrant community of users. Whether you're a avid hiker or a beginner looking to explore the great outdoors, AllTrails has something to offer for every type of hiker.


The app has a free version and a paid version. 

The paid version allows you to download maps for offline access, and it also give you wrong-turn alerts. There also is the Live Share feature, perfect for the solo traveler, where you can share your location with someone, so you can hike with a peace of mind. The cost for that service is $2.99/month.


Best RV GPS App AKA Best App For Not Crashing into a Bridge

best navigation app for van lifers for height and parkways GPS

Hammer is a great van life app that truckers use. A lot of RVers also use this because of the taller height compared to Van Lifers, but camper vans can also reach dangerous heights.

With this app, you implement your vehicle height and any other relevant dimensions and it shows you where to go. Think Google Maps with that added feature. The app is a little clunky, but if it saves your van from making the news, I'd say that's definitely worth it. Also, it's free.


Best Van Life Community App

Sēkr Download: iOs and Android

sekr app screenshots user interface

The Sēkr app intro:

The best app for easy, epic camping trips. Plan the best last-minute adventure. Find campsites, events, cell coverage and people nearby on Sēkr.

I have not found it as my primary app for any of those above categories, but it is a very good well-rounded app worth having. The main feature that is kind of cool, is that you get to see which other van lifers are around you. You can then hit them up if their profile seems cool, and you're looking for some friends to split dinner over a bonfire with.


There is also the community events category that allows you to see what's around. We've held a few events at Brooklyn Campervans and we post it on Sēkr. People actually find us from there, so that's pretty cool.


Best Van Life Dating App

There a lot of new apps vying for the top spot. I'm not single anymore and I feel like every one of those new apps are cringey. Let's stick with meeting people the old fashioned way: Tinder.


Best Road Trip App Overall

I feel weird putting this on here, but if you're not using Google Maps, then I'm not sure how you're getting around. Google Maps generally gives the best directions. Waze may be considered better (especially for traffic congested cities), but Google Maps has it all. You can see attractions on the map, so you can find spontaneous rest stops i.e. Come See the Biggest Chair! or just the best restaurant around.


Google Maps gives comprehensive mapping coverage, real-time traffic updates, turn-by-turn navigation, offline map access, search for nearby services, destination exploration, and integration with your Google account, so you can favorite destinations.


Runner-ups for best RV apps


  1. The Dyrt: The Dyrt is a camping and outdoor recreation app that helps users find campsites, RV parks, and campgrounds across North America. The Dyrt provides valuable information on camping destinations, outdoor activities, and scenic spots that are worth exploring during your road trips.

  2. Roadtrippers: Roadtrippers is a popular trip planning app that helps users discover interesting destinations, attractions, and points of interest along their route. Similar to Atlas Obscura, Roadtrippers features unique and offbeat attractions, quirky roadside stops, and scenic viewpoints.

  3. Atlas Obscura: This is great for middle-of-nowhere states where you're looking for some cool or weird things to do. We once found a massive abandoned Alien ship art piece. Sometimes there will be some obscure festival, and you might have the memory of a lifetime.

  4. Spotify: No road trip is complete without a good playlist. Spotify allows roadtrippers to create custom playlists, stream their favorite songs, and discover new music to keep them entertained on the road. They also have podcasts...and podcasts about Van Life


There you have it folks, there's all my favorite van life apps.


About Brooklyn Campervans


Brooklyn Campervan builds custom Sprinter camper vans and sometimes puts up Sprinter camper vans for sale. If you're around NYC, you could use their location to fill water and see some of the vans they are working on. Usually they will have around 2 camper vans for display for touring. They occasionally have VanLife gatherings, so be sure to check their events page.


Essential Apps for Brooklyn Campervans' Clients


For the cool cats that have a Brooklyn Campervans van, here are 3 unique apps that will set you apart. This should all be in your Camper Van User Guide, and in your video tutorial, but since you're here - here it is:

EcoFlow app User Interface for Camper Vans

Starlink satellite internet. Regardless of the generation of Starlink you have, this is the app that keeps you connected. Enjoy no set-up Starlink with this intuitive app.


EcoFlow. Paired with Starlink, you can monitor your batteries via bluetooth. See your input, output, and control everything in your van.



Govee Program, control, dim all your accent lighting in the van.



VanLife Apps FAQ


Are these apps all available on Apple and Andriod?

Yes, all apps here are available on both Andriod and Apple. Generally any smart phone users would be able to use these apps.


What new Van Life apps are coming out?

There's been so many apps lately that have come out and failed, whether they've received funding or not. There's been talks about apps integrating AI to learn more about your preferences to give travel recommendations. As more resources are supporting van lifers, there will be more apps to make them known. One example is the incredible growth of Harvest Host and similar apps that followed suit.


Is the iOverlander App Free? 

Yes the app is free and there are no paid versions of it. It is run on donations, and we recommend giving them a few bucks.


What is the Van Life dating app? 

The Driftr app tried to make a run at it with an IndieGogo campaign, but ultimately did not reach their goal.


What is your favorite Van Life app? 

My favorite app is Harvest Host. Our clients also have had incredible experiences across the country. It is like AirBnb and AirBnB Experiences combined into one app that costs 1/10th of the price per night.






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