Super Squad ambassadors Patrice and Justin La Vigne are touring the country in Superfeet’s 2016 converted Mercedes Sprinter van from May until July. Not only will they be getting the country under their fingernails through outdoor adventures, they will be inspiring others with 31 presentations in 17 states on Exploring New Zealand: Thru Hiking Te Araroa and Beyond.
The self-proclaimed nomads are sharing their adventures in van life along the way with stories from the road. First up in a series of blog posts, here are 7 vantastic apps the couple uses and loves.
In order to nail van life and road trippin, you’ll need a good mapping program. Call us old-fashioned, but we still love our paper maps and carry an atlas and Gazetteer. Still, we rely heavily on Google Maps to get us from point A to point B, especially in the cities. And this is not our first rodeo; we estimate we’ve driven across the country at least two dozen times!
We’ve been using the Camp and RV App from AllStays since 2013. Our $10 investment is worth its value in spades. This has been the best source for finding spots that allow RVs, including campgrounds, RV parks, parking lots (i.e., Walmarts), casinos, rest areas, national forest land and more. The individual options are equipped with the contact number, space capacity, cost (if any) and up-to-date user reviews (i.e., this Walmart lot is loud and has suspicious traffic). We use the map (cell service needed for this part of the app) on the fly as we are driving to decide where we want to stay for the night. As a bonus feature, you can gather information on road grades, which is helpful for RVs.
Gripe: it tells you mileage, but won’t link directly to GoogleMaps for directions (you have to copy and paste the address).
GasBuddy is another app we’ve been using since 2013. We are notably frugal and will seek out saving $0.02 per gallon when it makes sense. It is amazing to look at the map and see shockingly different prices within even a few miles! The map feature helps the most to see an overview of prices and distances from where you are.
Gripe: There have been one to two times where we rolled into a closed down gas station listed on the app, which sucks on a desolate road!
While AllStays does list camping options on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, this app allows you to dig a little deeper using a map, telling you if there is a view, toilet facilities and picnic tables. It also gives detailed driving directions and can connect you directly to websites with even more beta.
Gripe: You have to tap through a few pages to get the additional beta, but sometimes there is nothing to know.
Ever zoom past an exit and see a sign for your favorite fast food restaurant? Using this app on any interstate takes the guesswork out of your potential roadtrip pitstops. Restaurants, gas stations, hotels … your co-pilot can see what’s ahead for the next 100 exits. You can even tell the app what specific places you’re looking for.
Gripe: Some info may be out of date!
Free WiFi Finder
When we were traveling around New Zealand, finding Internet for free was like finding a needle in a haystack. Fortunately for us travelers in America, most businesses offer free WiFi with no strings attached. WiFi is important for us because we share one phone and limited data on our plan. This app brings up your choices for hotspots all around you, just in case you don’t see the Starbucks right away.
Gripe: It is helpful, but doesn’t seem to list every hotspot.
The AllStays Camp and RV app has some information about dump stations, but this app lists is way more comprehensive for this not-so-delightful task of emptying your grey and black water from your van. It notes which listings are public and which require a fee.
Gripe: We just wish the app would empty the grey and black water!
Patrice La Vigne is a writer and adventurer who lives a life less ordinary with her husband, Justin La Vigne. The self-proclaimed nomads spend more time outside than inside with their main passion being backpacking. The couple walked the length of New Zealand’s Te Araroa in 2014-15 and are currently on a nationwide speaking tour about their trek. The tour includes 31 stops in 17 states. For a complete tour schedule, check out www.wanderinglavignes.com.
You can get a taste of Patrice and Justin's Te Araroa adventure here. Follow Patrice and Justin on Facebook and Instagram