Life on the road is so much easier with a smartphone. Mine is nothing fancy – an out of date iPhone – but I use it constantly to plan and manage my nomad journey.
Here’s a list of apps I use on a regular basis.
Google Maps (free): I wouldn’t get anywhere without Google maps. I use it for route planning, in-town directions, and to find the best place to get a cup of tea.
Weather Underground (free): After trying many weather apps, Weather Underground has won my affection. In addition to the current and extended weather forecast, the app also provides sunrise and sunset times, air quality and allergy alerts, and gives a hiking forecast for the next five days.
GasBuddy (free): Provides the prices of all the gas stations in the area, and highlights where to find the least expensive gas.
Starbucks (free): I keep the Starbucks app for one very good reason – if you purchase a tea or drip coffee using the app and don’t leave the store, refills are free. Some days I need a lot of caffeine.
Other basic apps to download include:
- the app for your bank to make mobile deposits and check your balances
- a cloud app for storing pictures and important documents digitally (I use Amazon Cloud Drive)
- the app from your mobile carrier to keep track of your data and voice use
- social media apps for the services you use
- a VPN service for protecting your data when you connect to public wifi (I use NordVPN, affiliate link)
The Ultimate US Campground Project ($3.99): This map-based app lists every public campground in the United States, from national parks to Bureau of Reclamation. It has over 26,000 camping sites along with information on fees, amenities, and contact information.
Allstays Camp & RV ($9.99): Allstays may seem expensive, but it goes beyond a basic campground search. In addition to public and private campgrounds, Allstays also marks the location of dump stations, RV repair shops, propane refilling stations, and more. A heavy duty filtering function allows you to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Passport America (free): Passport America is a membership club that grants you 50% off a network of private campgrounds. Though I prefer to stay off the grid, every so often I need a shower and electricity. Membership is $44/year (affiliate link).
The Outbound Collective (free): The Outbound Collective is a community of explorers who share beta on the best adventure spots across the globe. I use the map feature to search for places near me to hike, bike, and swim. It’s the first place I look when I’m in a new area. You can find me on the Outbound Collective here.
AllTrails (free): Access 50,000 hiking trails around the world with this well designed app. The app will automatically show trails near you, ranked by user-generated ratings, and also lets you search anywhere in the globe. I use this app primarily to find out if there is a local trail system nearby, and to find which hikes are best to do when I have limited time.
MTB Project (free): MTB Project is the most comprehensive mountain biking app I’ve ever seen. In addition to maps outlining trails and their difficulty level, you can also download entire states to use offline. This is particularly helpful when riding a trail without cell service. I won’t say you’ll never get lost again – but it’d be hard to do.
Other Fun Apps
Merlin Bird ID (free): Built by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this app has a beautiful interface for identifying birds. It asks simple questions and returns a list of possible birds with pictures, a short description, and recordings of bird calls.
First Aid (free): “Fun” may be a stretch, but you never know when you’ll need information on bee stings or a broken bone. This app by the American Red Cross covers a variety of common ailments.
Which apps do you use while traveling? Let me know in the comments section.