Ready to plan your dream RV trip, but not sure where to find places to stay? Wondering if you can safely fit under overpasses on a scenic byway? Navigating a safe RV route is a bit more involved than a typical car road trip, but there are plenty of apps to help you along the way. Here, we cover the best RV GPS and overnight stay apps to make planning your next RV trip easy.
Tips When Planning Your RV Route
If you’re new to RVing, driving a large rig can be a bit intimidating. You’ll need to keep a few things in mind as you’re planning your trip.
Know the Height and Length of your Rg
Pay attention to height and length restrictions on roads, especially when you’re driving through towns and cities. Things like low bridges, narrow tunnels, and low hanging power lines can all spell disaster for tall RVs. Similarly, roads with switchbacks and sharp turns may not be able to accommodate long rigs, so keep an eye out for posted length restrictions. Even gas stations have overhangs that you might not clear when fueling up. You can avoid these by measuring your RV and using an RV-specific GPS app that allows you to enter your rig’s measurements to find a safe route.
When determining your height clearance, make sure to include your A/C unit, solar panels, WiFi antennas, and any other objects on your RV roof. Remember to write down those measurements and keep them handy in your rig, so you can reference them at a moment’s notice—many RVers use a sticky note on the dash.
Steep Road Grades Are Difficult
Steep grades can also cause trouble for RVs. You’ll be going much slower up the grades than in a car and coming down can be difficult when you’re towing extra weight. It can be stressful driving, so many RVers prefer to find routes that avoid steep road grades. An RV GPS app can help you find alternative routes.
Remember the Mileage Difference
It will take you longer to get to your destination in an RV than it does in a car. You’ll typically be going slower, your gas mileage won’t be as good, and you’ll be stopping to refuel more often. If you’ve plugged your route into Google Maps, a good tip is to assume the time to your destination will take 20 to 25 percent longer in an RV. Or, use an RV-specific GPS to get a better idea of just how long the drive will take.
Plan Out Overnight Stops
RVers have options when looking for an overnight stop on the way to a destination. Some businesses—like Cabela’s, Cracker Barrel, and Walmart—will usually let you park overnight in their parking lots. However, be sure to always check with the specific location to make sure this is allowed. Not all Walmart locations allow overnight parking.
There are plenty of resources that can help you find overnight stays, whether you’re looking to camp on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, in campgrounds and RV parks, or in a business parking lot. Check out the list below of our favorite RV GPS apps and resources for overnight parking.
The Best RV GPS Apps and Resources
The Togo RV app now includes RV-specific navigation as a Plus feature ($39.99 annually). Simply select where you want to go, enter your vehicle measurements, and choose from nine route preferences, like propane restrictions, tunnels, toll roads, and more. The app will create a route tailored to your RV and preferences, so you can drive worry-free.
If you believe that getting there is half the fun, Roadtrippers is the app for you. Just enter your starting and ending location, and Roadtrippers offers you the chance to add stops to your route, including attractions, accommodations, dining, campgrounds, and more. It even calculates an estimated cost for fuel. The basic version is free to use, but for a $29.99 annual upgrade (also included with a Togo RV Plus membership), you get unlimited stops, live traffic updates, and more.
inRoute provides an interesting twist to trip planning. It lets you chart your route using weather, elevation, curvy roads, and more. You can also plan your route based on the number of hours or miles you want to drive and search for gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds along the way. In addition to its free services, inRoute offers upgrade packages on a monthly or annual basis ($4.99/month, $39.99/year), or you can purchase a one-time upgrade (for one trip) that costs $14.99. There’s a 7-day free trial option as well.
RV Trip Wizard
RV Trip Wizard (part of RV LIFE Network) is both a trip-planning website and smartphone app that provides RV-safe directions. It gives users turn-by-turn, RV-safe GPS directions that are tailored to your RV’s height, length, and weight. It also provides users with hundreds of campground listings, so you can find places to stay. For an annual cost of $49 for membership (there is a 7-day free trial), it’s great if you like planning your trip on both your computer and smartphone.
CoPilot GPS Navigation
As with other apps, CoPilot lets you find places to visit and stay along the way, but this app also gives you advanced navigation based specifically on your RV’s size. It also offers voice-based guidance, traffic updates, and route alerts. There’s a 14-day free trial so you can test it out before committing. A one-year subscription costs $29.99.
The Best Apps and Resources for Planning Overnight RV Stops
Overnight RV Parking
Overnight RV Parking is the largest database of free overnight RV parking locations in North America, and access is included as a benefit of a Togo RV Plus membership. You can search by your current location, or by a city, state, or zip code to find overnight parking for your RV. Each location is color coded, so you can easily tell if it allows free parking, paid parking, or is part of a membership. It even shows which locations don’t allow overnight parking, so you never have to worry if the Walmart in town will let you stay.
Campendium lists a wide range of overnight camping spots, from RV parks to free dispersed camping sites. You can search on both the website and app to see photos and reviews from campers who have stayed in each location. It lists what (if any) amenities are available at each site and what cell phone coverage is like, a useful feature for those working on the road.
AllStays is a robust resource for planning an RV trip. It shows you RV-friendly Walmart locations, RV service stations, and low-clearance bridges along your route. It also displays restaurants, accommodations, points of interest, and rest areas. AllStays is fast and reliable—all the information is downloaded to your phone, so you don’t need to rely on cell phone service. AllStays Pro costs $34.95 annually or you can download one of the apps, like Camp & RV, with a one-time purchase (prices range from free to $9.99, depending on the app).
Want to park overnight at a winery, brewery, or farm? Harvest Hosts is a membership site that lets self-contained RVs park overnight at unique locations across the U.S. A basic Harvest Hosts subscription costs $99 per year and allows you to stay overnight for free at more than 1,700 locations. Sites typically offer dry camping and members are encouraged to purchase something from the host to thank them for their hospitality. You can also purchase an upgraded golf membership for $139 a year, which includes parking at golf courses and country clubs.
Ultimate US Public Campgrounds
Want to know about public campgrounds where you’re headed? This is the app for you. It also provides information about the number of RV sites, electric hookups, showers, and more. Since public campgrounds tend to be less expensive than private campgrounds (or sometimes even free), it’s a useful app for those trying to stay on a budget. Of the more than 41,000 public campgrounds in the database, half cost $10 or less. The price to download the app is $3.99.
More Tips on Planning a Safe RV Route
Where do you park an RV when traveling?
For quick stops, look for truck parking at gas stations, rest stops, and travel plazas to make sure you have enough room to maneuver. For overnight stays, use one of the apps listed above to find places to park.
What is the best RV navigation app?
The best RV navigation app is one where you can enter your RV’s length, height, and weight and it will show you a safe route to take to your destination. From there, personal preference will determine which app you find easiest to navigate and use.
How do I find RV-friendly roads?
Make sure you use an RV map app and don’t rely on GPS directions for cars. Check out the list above for some great options on apps that will show you RV-friendly roads.
Where can I sleep in my RV overnight?
There are many places where you can sleep in your RV overnight, including RV parks and campgrounds, free camping on BLM land, and in certain business parking lots. Check out any of the apps above to find the best places to park your RV overnight.
Using RV map, GPS apps, and overnight parking apps will take the stress out of planning your epic vacation. And while these apps are great, you should always have a backup plan. The Rand McNally Road Atlas is the gold standard—and the one your parents probably had tucked under the front seat. State road maps can be found at most gas stations and truck stops.
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