There’s no better feeling than knowing that you have a road trip coming up – driving down dirt roads, searching for the perfect place to set up camp, stopping at the local diner for midnight waffles… I have butterflies just thinking about it! As a girl who lives in a van, my life is one big road trip – so for the past few years, I’ve tested out countless road trip planning tools and apps, trying to find the perfect balance between winging it and planning my route.
When I’m taking life slow, staying in one place for a little while, I don’t tend to plan ahead – but if I’m on a road trip with friends, or I have a far away destination and need to find some things to do in the middle, I love using these road trip planning tools and apps to find cool places to stop! But, along with helping me plan my route and find some scenery or a hike to stretch my legs, these apps and tools can also help with finding campsites, saving money on gas, and more!
Here are the best road trip planning tools and apps for 2021, that will help you plan the ultimate road trip!
Head’s up: some of these links are affiliate links, so I get a commission if you make a purchase (at no cost to you). But that’s great, because these are all apps I love and use, and sharing them helps me keep making free guides for you!
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Let’s start with one you’ve definitely heard of! Google Maps is one of the best road trip planning tools and apps, and probably always will be. When you’re on a road trip, Google Maps is, of course, great for navigating and getting you where you need to go. A lot of people don’t know that you can also make lists and save places in Google Maps – those blue marks are places that I wanted to stop when I took a short road trip down the Oregon Coast, and I often use this as a way to save “bucket list” locations, and I embed my maps on all of my road trip guides on this site!
This first road trip planning tool is a really amazing all-in-one that I can’t recommend enough. Road Trippers is designed specifically for road trips, and definitely one of the best road trip planning apps!
You can use Road Trippers on your computer or on their mobile app, and it’s basically the ultimate road trip planning tool – incredible for just about anything you could possibly need on your road trip.
Honestly, what can’t Road Trippers do? You can map your rote, and use it to find additional stops – including hikes and scenic overlooks, cool landmarks, hotels and campgrounds, restaurants, and even places to fill up water or dump your gray water tank (if you’re traveling in a van like me).
Some more features of Road Trippers:
- get recommendations and information about pit stops along your route
- plan multiple road trips at once
- save places you want to visit
- share itineraries with friends to collaborate on road trips
- download offline maps
- read reviews for potential pit stops
- estimate gas costs based on what kind of vehicle you’re driving
- book hotels, tours, or campgrounds without having to leave the app – and get discounts!
- get recommended road trips near you
I travel in a van, so I rarely pay to sleep. If your road trip includes camping, whether it’s car, tent, or RV camping, you need iOverlander!
This one is best on your phone – they do have a website, but it’s not great. But I love the app! On iOverlander, you’ll find free campsites (everything from Walmart parking lots to absoltely stunning boondocking locations), hostels, potable water, RV dump stations, and more. The locations are contributed by travelers, and you can filter what you want to see.
Road tripping is pretty budget friendly if you camp along the way, but gas can quickly eat away at your bank account (especially here on the west coast)! I know filling up my van makes me cringe, but Gas Buddy makes it a little less painful. This is one of the best road trip tools – with an app that helps you find deals on gas, and the cheapest gas stations wherever you are.
With Gas Buddy, you can:
- find the cheapest gas station near you
- get points and discounts by reporting gas prices
- track your car’s fuel economy
- link your debit card to a Gas Buddy card for more discounts
Cost: Free! Plus you can get 10 cents off per gallon if you use code “EDHL3B7“
Hipcamp is basically like Airbnb for campsites. People who live on farms or who own big plots of land can rent out campsites to travelers, which means Hipcamp is one of the best tools for finding camping while you’re on your road trip. You’ll find all kinds of camping – from patches of grass where you can pitch a tent to unique glamping sites!
Hipcamps are private property, listed by the people who own it, and a lot of them offer unique experiences – like exploring a farm, kayaking, and more.
If you own some land, you can also make a pretty good income on Hipcamp! Learn more about that here.
Cost: The app is free, but you pay when you book a campsite! You can get $10 off your first booking with Hipcamp here.
The Dyrt is one of the best apps out there for finding campsites – whether free or paid ones! This app is quickly becoming one of the best road trip planning tools as well. With The Dyrt Pro, you have access to the road trip planner, where you can add your own stops, or have the app give you recommendations along the way!
My favorite feature of The Dyrt Pro is that you can see maps of BLM and National Forest Land – which means finding free camping is easy. You can also download offline maps, and filter campgrounds by type, price, and even whether or not they have cell phone service with your carrier!
Cost: Free, or $35.99 per year for The Dyrt Pro – you can get a free trial for 7 days!
To go on a road trip, the most important thing to have is a vehicle! With Escape Campervans, you can rent fully decked out vans, complete with everything you could possibly need for a read trip.
The perk is that you have a vehicle to hit the road in and a place to stay all in one, so you don’t have to worry about paying for hotels along the way. Just use one of the apps I mentioned to find campsites, and you’re set for your road trip!
Cost: The app is free, but you pay to rent a vehicle or trailer. You can get $50 off your rental here!
If you try out any of these tools and apps for your next road trip, I want to hear about it! Leave a comment below, and let me know what your favorite road trip planning tools and apps are.