We’re so excited to share the helpful travel and life apps that we use almost every day on the road as we travel the country in our self-converted bus house on wheels.
Try to consider learning to travel/live nomadically like learning a brand new job.
It’s no different. It takes time.
Ask questions, be patient, always carry and atlas and download some of these apps!
The contrast in logistical know-how and stress level between our first cross-country trip in the bus compared to how we operate now is pretty incredible. There really is NO substitute for just going there.
What do these apps we gathered for you help out with?
These gems will help in finding the best price on diesel/gas, saving money on groceries, finding free places to park/run/hike, easy investment management, photo editing and more. The random and the awesome.
I created a group on my phone, “BUS TRAVEL” where all these apps live. Game changer.
Let's Talk Adaptation and Exploration
There is a lot of adjustment involved in the mobile lifestyle experience, or even a road trip for that matter. Give yourself time to acclimate.
You don’t often hear about the white-knuckled hour on a washboard dirt road to get to those gorgeous free camping spots out west or the Walmarts and rest stops that got you there, but that’s all part of it.
You will inevitably take wrong turns, arrive later than you’d like and have to ask around until you find what you need. Slowly things get easier and you may even be able to help others with your experience. That’s half the fun.
This learning process is not perfect or pretty most of the time, so don’t expect that your journey has to be. It’s not magical perfection. It’s effort and research and also a lot of fun.
It’s okay to change course…
I have to say it…it’s okay if you find out you don’t enjoy this type of lifestyle. You don’t have to and we’re not asking you to.
The important part is exploring your ideas, your wish list of life. You might find you’re more comfortable exploring via taking weekend camping trips closer to home or an annual road trip in a different vehicle, or that you much prefer flying places and staying at hotels.
You can explore and travel our beautiful country in A MILLION WAYS, you guys; full-time road life is our way that we’re sharing with you.
Questions and Problem Solving
We still had so many questions the day we took off south from Old Orchard Beach, Maine last January
Questions you might have (we did!):
- Where can you park a bus?
- How do find FREE parking?
- Where do you fill up your water?
- Where do you dump your gray tank?
- Where do you find diesel?
- Best routes for a 12′ 6″ tall bus?
- Hiking routes, donut shops? I NEED THESE THINGS.
- Can I handle using a composting toilet?!?!?!! (topic for another post but a worthy question!)
We learned as we drove and collected information anywhere we could!
We grew to love the daily problem solving and on-the-fly decision making inherent in traveling in a bus ( I think you HAVE to like that kind of thing in order to enjoy this type of lifestyle).
First, An Imperfect Story
I need to share this story because it offers some perspective on the mess that sometimes is a lifestyle change like we made (and you may be thinking of making…).
If we can turn THIS into an amazing experience, well, you can do just about anything.
Our target date to head south from Maine and go 100% full-time bus life was January 15, 2018. The week prior happened to bring one of the worst winter cold snaps in years; single digit temperatures, snow and ice galore.
We just barely finished our last day at our full-time jobs, which was heavy emotionally. We scrambled to wrap up five years of roots in Maine. Our bus was not done; we didn’t have hot water or running water. We just had a simple marine hand pump and a sealed bucket under the sink as a temporary gray tank. Ben was JUST getting over an awful cold, stress induced, no doubt. I had a pretty substantial emotional breakdown about our lifestyle leap amidst it all.
Overwhelmed at First.
The conversation about not going through with this journey at all definitely happened. Wild Drive Life wasn’t in the BEST shape.
We rushed to get our solar panels and battery bank installed days before leaving (one of our last projects before take off) with a friend in the BLISTERING cold. By we I mean Ben. I was inside doing some serious last minute downsizing/organizing.
It was all a bit of an exciting, liberating and terrifying mess, but we were doing our best, together.
Despite the fluster, we reached our target take off date and hit the road with smiles (after shoveling off the roof from the 12 inches of snow that fell the night before!).
This is me, us, giving you permission to be scared as hell before taking a leap in life; whether it’s a new job, a new house, city, or way of life… you’ll be okay.
We survived and you will too.
So here we are, 10 months later. The bus is finished (woooo!). Our mobile income is supporting our lifestyle.
I’m writing this blog from a beautiful, free campsite in southwest Oklahoma on our way back out to Arizona for the winter.tout
We still have so much to learn and don't know everything perfectly so don’t feel like you need to either! Things take time.
This nomadic life experience taught us more than we ever expected and we’re still learning more every day so we can continue to help others.
So let’s share the helpful travel apps that lessened the enormous learning curve for us! We still use them on a daily basis today as we travel the country.
Enjoy, and reach out to us with any questions you have!
10 travel & lifestyle apps we use all the time as we travel the country in our big blue bus.
Grocery and every day purchase reward app. A friend of ours recently introduced us to this money savings gem. You can redeem rewards on purchases you already make at the grocery store, Amazon, etc. It requires very little effort and it’s actually really fun. It helps engage you in the purchases you make. — I just earned $0.50 cash back on Kombucha.
USE OUR Ibotta REFERRAL CODE agxpiyy to get a $10 welcome bonus!
• Trucker Path – free (fuel & parking)
You can search for gas stations and truck stops that have diesel along your route AND see the current prices at each. This is huge for planning, “Oh, we can go another 20 miles and save 20 cents a gallon, done.”
The other thing we use Trucker Path for is to search for rest stops or Walmarts to park at for free on travel days. They show current availability as posted by other app users. They also show truck stops and Casinos as well, which are other free parking options we’ve used. When in doubt about whether overnight parking is allowed when you arrive, just ask.
• Campendium – free (accommodations)
Great all around app to find free camping options around the country. I like the user reviews and photos most of all. Sometimes it’s unclear if a bus of our size could work in certain remote public lands/roads but when we see someone else has been there in a similar sized vehicle, we go for it!
• AllStays – $9.99 (accommodations)
Worth it, in our opinion. AllStays shows free and paid camping options, road grade warnings, road clearance notations and more. They also have pretty in depth notes on the camping options (season of operation, site sizes amenities, etc.) I really like having it on hand to cross reference suggestions we get about where to stay. It also never hurts to call a place to double check.
• CoPilot (RVUSA version available too) -$39 (navigation)
Co-Pilot is a navigation app that factors in your vehicle’s weight, length and height. It comes with a free trial, seven days I believe.
Steep price for an app but we feel SO much more comfortable knowing that we’re traveling on roads that are suitable for our bus. It’s not PERFECT by any means, it feels a little old school compared to Apple or Google maps but it gets us from point A to point B.
Sometimes I’ll open up directions in Co-Pilot and quickly compare them to Apple Maps. If it’s the same, I’ll use Apple Maps. It’s a great back up.
• AllTrails – free (all things outdoors)
We love having AllTrails on hand to look up hiking trails and all things outdoors as we travel.
• Roadtrippers – free (trip planning)
The Roadtrippers app is trip planning GOLD, whether it’s a long term or weekend road trip. It also helps to remember where you’ve been.
I suggest setting things up on a computer and then viewing/modifying as you go on their mobile app. It’s just easier to set up the trip on a larger screen. You can research and pick destinations/points of interest/nature related gems to add to your route and build your trip from there! Have fun.
• Gaia GPS – free (hiking)
We used this app to plan our long hike this summer in New Hampshire. It has REALLY detailed topographical trail maps, intersections, peaks, shelters, distance notes, etc. — it’s like Roadtrippers but for hiking. We used it to bushwhack our way through many a woods.
Again, I would suggest starting this setup on a larger screen and using the mobile app once you’re done.
• Wealthfront – free (investments)
We get asked about whether investments are a part of our financial equation at this stage of life while we travel and the answer is yes. We use tools like Wealthfront because it’s user-friendly and simple. We're by no means experts, but we've been through a lot in the past five years!
Some people like to be more directly involved in managing their stocks and mutual funds but we prefer to set it and forget it for now. Our suggestion is to do some research and find a tool that works for you. This is one of many.
Use our referral link to get $5,000 managed on Wealthfront for free! It’s a great place to start.
• Snapseed – free (photo editing)
Easy, fun and free photo editing. You don’t need a fancy camera (although they’re nice!) to take and share great photos of your travels.
I hope our story and these notes from the road help you in your travels! Thank you for reading! We put a lot of time and effort into these resources.
If you enjoyed this blog post or learned something from it, please consider supporting our blog in the following ways:
You can donate a few bucks on Venmo. Our username is “wilddrivelife”.
Or you could snag one of these beauties… 10% of profits are donated to scholarships for high school seniors heading off to college.