I figured I'd write a post on some of my favorite apps that I have found to be beneficial during our travels. And seeing as how I'm a cheap bastard, all of these are available at the Marketplace for free.
Note - these apps are not listed in any particular order. Although I do use some more than others, I find them all to be useful in their own ways.
- Gas Buddy
This app gets used quite a bit. In our travels, it seems that in most towns you enter, the gas is always priciest near the freeways. Drive about a mile in and you may save yourself up to 5c per gallon. This adds up nicely when you are filling up an RV. Using this app can save you a few wasted miles by showing you the gas stations with the best prices in your general area.
What I love most about this app is the map view option. GPS will show you where you are located and zooming out from there will show you nearby gas stations as well as the latest reported price.
Another way I like to use this is if I have about a 1/4 tank left, I'll scout ahead to upcoming cities/towns and see if gas is cheaper where I am or if I should keep driving to the next town.
This is not exactly an app but rather a Google tool that came with my Galaxy pad. I guess you could describe it as a Yellow Pages of sorts. I've only recently started using it but it seems to help finding local businesses. We've used it to look for grocery stores, coffee shops, and other places like that. I'm sure we'll get a lot more use out of it in the near future.
Ever since we took to the road I've noticed that Pilot and Flying J gas stations are located all over the place. The gas is reasonably priced, they have a decent store, cheap coffee, clean bathrooms, paid showers, and are overnight friendly. Vanessa and I have stayed overnight at these places more than a few times nestled up amongst the big rigs. Its nice to wake up in the morning and hit up a clean bathroom and grab a large cup of coffee before continuing along our way. Most of these have some sort of fast food chain attached to them as well, such as a Subway or McDonalds in case you are hungry and want a cheap, crappy meal.
- Oh Ranger! ParkFinder
This is an app I wish I would have discovered before we began our journey. First you enter a zipcode or city or have it use GPS to find your current location. Next you choose from a list of activities such as hiking, camping, RVing, etc, or select all. It will then give you a list of all parks in the general area that meet your criteria. It also provides a map view which is what I prefer. Selecting one of the parks takes you to a more detailed description along with directions, phone numbers, and a link to their website.
- Propane Refill Station Locator
Not the best app but has proved useful occasionally. Basically, as the name suggests, it lists propane refill stations that are nearby. The problem is that this app needs some updating. I generally prefer using UHaul to refill my tanks since they usually offer the best prices and Yelp or Local seems to do better than this app in tracking one down.
- RV Parky
This one is a great find, although I haven't used it too much or doubt we ever will since we have never stayed at an actual RV park and doubt we ever will. But I really appreciate this app and think others can get a lot of use out of it.
I plan to keep it handy for one specific purpose. If Vanessa and I are feeling especially grubby and need a shower and perhaps an RV dump station, I think I'll be able to find a nearby park with this up and broker some kind of day use deal with them in order to use their facilities. In fact, there's a place not far from where we are currently located that has a hot tub that I am considering calling up for after our Zion 100 adventure.
- Sanidumps Lite
I think trying to locate a decent propane station is the thing I hate worst about travelling. A not distant second is trying to locate a free dump station, or at least one that doesn't charge an exorbitant fee. Our tank is fairly small and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay someone $20 to have it emptied.
This app is decent for being free but has led us astray a few times by not being properly updated with closures.
In addition to this app, I have also found the following websites to be helpful:
- Swim N Hole
When the weather warms up a bit more, I hope to get a lot of use from this app. I found this one quite some time ago and eagerly awaited hitting the road and hitting up some of it's recommendations. We have visited a few of its listings but the water is too cold at the moment.
I'm not sure how often this gets updated, or even if it does, but the list of places is pretty nice. I've also recently discovered the Swim Places app which I intend to install as a comparison to this ap.
Much like Pilot and Flying J, the TA Travelcenters are quite abundant and a safe haven for travellers looking for a safe place to park for the night. They also provide dump stations, showers, restrooms, etc, as well as wifi at a small price ($5 for 24hrs). They have a card membership where truckers can earn shower credits for every 50 gallons of diesel purchased. I'll have to see if they have anything for RVers since a free shower would be nice once in a while.
- US Hot Springs Guide
Ever since Vanessa and I stumbled upon the Holtville Hot Springs, we've been on the lookout for other hot springs ever since. As long as they are free that is. This little app does a nice job at showing you where to find these hidden gems.
Please use caution when driving to these as some of them may be off the beaten path and tricky to get to. And ALWAYS remember to clean up after yourself.
- Wi-Fi Finder
One of the things we can't break our addiction to is free WiFi. This app is pretty useful in scanning the area around you for wifi signals. Bonus that it has a database for offline usage. One of the best apps of its kind out there.
In this day and age, I really hope I don't have to give a breakdown of what Yelp is and what it can do for you. One of the first things we do when we roll into a town is to search for "wifi" to find the free broadcasts. It's also great for trying to locate decent food, farmers markets, trails, etc. If it's out there, someone has more than likely yelped a review on it.
This app comes highly appraised from quite a few bloggers I follow and so I felt compelled to install it myself to see what the fuss is all about. I haven't had much opportunity to use it much but I do foresee its usefulness.
Well there you have it folks, the list of apps I keep handy during our travels. I highly recommend you grabbing a few of these for yourself and testing them out. If you know of any apps that are excellent for travelling around, please feel free to let me know. Must be Android though since I don't do the I.
Thanks for reading.