Listen, we get it. You think we’ve gone crazy.
And to be honest, we totally understand. After all, we’re always talking about the unique RV magic of reconnecting with nature — which usually means unplugging from our unnatural digital devices.
But whether we like it or not, this is 2018, and smartphones are ubiquitous. Whether you’re an old-school Apple fan or a diehard Android user, chances are you already spend a significant portion of your life glued to that little blue screen. In fact, you may be reading this on one right now.
But your phone doesn’t have to destroy your trip (or your life), so long as you use it wisely (and with moderation). In fact, traveling with a cell phone can actually make your trip easier or more convenient, and even help you find interesting travel experiences you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
So, ready to learn how to use your cell phone to travel smarter without becoming a zombie? Read on for our best tips, tricks, and resources.
How to Travel With a Cell Phone
Spoiler alert: It would actually be more complicated to figure out how not to travel with a cell phone. Now that everyone’s literally on call all the time, we feel naked when we leave home without our pocket-sized computers.
But when it comes to RVing, there are certain apps and features that can make your cell phone into a real advantage, perhaps even saving you time, money, and headaches along the way.
Here are some of our favorite ways to use your cell phone (for the power of good!) on your next RV vacation.
Travel Experience Apps
Ready to have a whole new view of the cell-phone-friendly travel experience? Here are some of the ways your cell phone can be a boon to your vacation.
1. Turn your cell phone into your trusty navigator.
If you’re not quite ready to make the big investment, your cell phone can be a great ersatz navigational system. In fact, some of the apps available are surprisingly powerful!
For instance, you probably already know about (and use) Google Maps, but you might not know that you can customize your route to avoid tolls, highways, or ferries; it’s also easy to share your route or find stops along the way.
Willing to spend a little, but not a lot? Try out the CoPilot RV GPS app, which is built specifically with RVers in mind. At $39.99, it may be pricey compared to the other apps on your phone… but it’s a fraction of the cost of a stand-alone RV GPS unit, and a lot more convenient than even the best set of paper maps.
2. Discover more fun stuff to do at your destination — or along the way.
Not only can your phone help you figure out the best way to get where you’re going — it can also help you decide on what to do when you take a break from driving!
Roadtrippers displays everything from historical sites to restaurants to “weird stuff” along your chosen route, with totally customizable parameters; apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor can help you know what to expect of that pizza joint or brewery before you plunk down your money. In any case, all of these apps can help you have a more unique travel experience by discovering things to do that weren’t already on your radar.
3. Capture those once-in-a-lifetime camping moments.
Even the most memorable travel experience will spring to mind a little more readily when you have photographic evidence. No matter what smartphone you carry, you likely already have a world-class camera in your pocket — but apps like Panorama 360 Camera can help you use it to even better ends.
You can also, of course, use your cell phone to share those photos with friends and family back at home on social media… but be careful about getting sucked into your feed and missing out on the amazing stuff you were photographing in the first place!
Here are a few more ways your phone can come in handy (… get it?) on the road!
4. Save money on fuel and other must-haves.
No matter how much cash you have saved for your adventure, it’s always nice to keep a little bit more of it than you expected in your pocket. And your phone can be a big help on that front. Find the cheapest fuel available in your area with Gas Buddy, and be sure to snap a quick pic of those grocery receipts with Ibotta — you’ll get real cash rebates for foods ranging from breakfast cereal to tomatoes.
By the way, if you’re looking to save money on the road, we can’t overstate the value of a Passport America membership. It’s less than $50 per year to join, and you’ll get access to 50%-off campsites at almost 1900 campgrounds across the nation. There are even locations in Mexico and Canada!
5. Know before you go.
If you want to ensure your travel experiences are stress-free and happy, there are a few things you must always do. One, of course, is to check the weather — and goodness knows your phone is handy for that. Our favorite weather app is Dark Sky, which allows you to set custom alerts for rain or specific temperatures, but there are tons of others to choose from.
As an RVer, you should also check out State Lines, which gives you a quick rundown on the laws and regulations each time you enter a new state. At $4.99, we think that’s a worthy investment for your peace of mind!
Best Travel Phone Plan
No matter what phone plan you have, your travels will likely require you to use data — so try to find an unlimited plan that doesn’t throttle your speeds when you go too high. You’re going to be out there in the wild, so it might also be best to add a solid phone case to your travel kit.
Whether it’s your iPhone or Android that helps you live your best travel life, just don’t forget to put it down once you’re done using it for its dedicated purpose. After all, you can scroll through Facebook and Instagram at home!
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