7 Best Tools for Your Next Thrilling RV Road Trip

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If you are a new RVer you may be curious what the best tools and resources are for trip planning. We’ve planned our fair share of trips and I’ve used a variety of different apps, websites, and books. Here are my favorites!

NPS (National Park Services) App

  • Cost: free app
  • How to Use: 
    • Find each US National Park featuring interactive maps, things to do, essential information. 
    • You can save your favorite parks for upcoming trips
    • Self-Guided Tours – We used this during a tour to Gettysburg – it was the highlight of our trip!

This is such a cool app! It’s perfect for travelers who really want to learn about the national parks before visiting. It also has a lot of practical information to help plan your visits.

Read More: How to Pick Your Next Memorable Vacation Destination

The NPS app had an awesome self-guided audio tour of Gettysburg – highly recommend!

Books

Do people still read books?! I do! In fact, some of my best resources for trip planning are books and printed resources. There is so much care and detail that goes into writing a book. And yes, the information may be outdated at some point in the future but that’s okay! I’ve boughten thrifted travel books from years ago that I still use today! They are a wonderful resource and definitely worth your consideration when planning your next trip.

Gazetteer and Road Atlases 

  • Cost: $22-$28
  • How to Use: 
    • Use as a backup in case your GPS fails.
    • Use to visualize your route when planning your trip across states.
    • You can highlight your routes from past trips as a memory’s sake.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m a firm believer you shouldn’t go on a long road trip without a paper map.

This is the one we use when we’re RVing.

And if you happen to be traveling in Maine for an extended time, I recommend this one.

I find these paper maps to be a great resource for not only directions, but also brainstorming things to do in an area or searching for hidden gems.

Where Should We Camp Next?

Cost:$10-$25

This was a wonderful gift from my sister-in-law, and I immediately fell in love. 

This book is a great resource for choosing your next campground. It includes state parks, private RV parks, and additional glamping accommodations.

Read More: How to RV in the US for Less Than $2500

Heartland RV Park & Cabins in Hermosa, South Dakota

National Geographic Guide to State Parks

  • Cost: $21

If you’re anything like us, you love a good state park. “The best state parks in _____” is one of the first searches I make when deciding on a destination. 

Whether you’re planning to visit a state park for a few hours or spend an entire week camping, this is a great resource.

I really appreciate how they have a map showing the top state parks for each region. 

The Most Scenic Drives in America

  • Cost: $21

Published in 2012, this is definitely an oldie but goodie. Get your copy here!

The reason I keep going back to this book is because I really appreciate how clearly they layout the itineraries. It’s perfect if you know the general region of where you want to go but you’re still needing to narrow down your options.  

DK Eyewitness USA

  • Cost: $28

If you are lost for ideas on where to go or looking to learn more about a particular destination, look no further than this travel guide. 

This is a great resource for knowing the top things to do in a region plus some lesser-known attractions. I especially love when they share self-guided walking tours.

Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV, and Motorhome Drivers

  • Cost: $28

My husband is obsessed with this guidebook. When we first started RVing, we we’re really worried about how our Toyota Tacoma would haul our RPOD 192 up steep inclines. 

We wanted to be sure that we were going to be taking the best route possible and this guidebook was so reassuring!

These e-books show exactly what roads NOT to take in an RV. And even better, it has both a Western and Eastern USA option. If you prefer to order a physical copy, visit their site here. 

I suggest picking up both so you have them handy no matter where the road takes you! 

Read More: A Guide for First Time RVers: What You Need to Know to Get Started

RV Life/Trip Wizard

  • Cost: $59/year
  • How to Use
    • Create multiple itineraries.
    • Create custom stops.

My two favorite reasons why I love RV Trip Wizard

You Can Create Multiple Itineraries

I’ve planned trips on RV Life that I know I won’t be able to take for a few years. Why? Because it’s addicting and so easy!  

You can spend hours planning trips on this site and you’ll find it gets you so inspired to get out on the road!

Check out RV Life/Trip Wizard here!

You Can Add Custom Stops

Say you find an attraction that is not coming up on RV Life. You can simply search for that attraction and add it to your itinerary. 

For example, say I wanted to add Reid State Park in Maine to my itinerary. It won’t normally come up because it’s not a campground or rest stop but I can search for it, click More Details and add the stop. 

Click Save Custom Stop or add a number of nights if you plan to stay the night.

Campendium

  • Cost: Free and paid version
  • How to Use
    • Use this website to search for campgrounds. Their filters are especially helpful when filtering for RV campgrounds that have full hookups and are pet friendly.
    • If I find a campsite on Campendium that isn’t on RV Life, I will simply search for the campground in RV Life and then add it as a custom stop. 

There is a paid version with Campendium but I find the free version works just fine. 

I will typically search a region for campgrounds and filter for my needs. Then I will visit the website listed for each campground. This site gives you a bit more detail then if you were to simply google “Campgrounds in______”. 

Gas Buddy App

  • Cost: Free
  • How to Use:
    • Gas Buddy will show you all the gas stations in your area and their prices as well as directions on how to get there. 

The Gas Buddy app is especially useful when RVing. The cost of gas is such a huge budget line item so every penny counts. 

This is especially useful when you’re driving through smaller towns and are unsure of where the next gas station is. 

Google Maps

  • Cost: Free
  • How to Use
    • I love using Google Maps to save pins of my favorite things to do, places to eat, and sites to explore!
    • Use their unique icons and color options to easily view attractions in specific regions. 

You can see below I have a variety of pins. You can choose whatever you want!

The purple RV = RV Campgrounds I want to visit

The blue binoculars = a great viewpoint

The orange fork and knife = recommended places to eat

The green hiker = a great place to hike

The brown flower = nearby park

The dawn brown tree = state park

And more!

YouTube

  • Cost: Free
  • How to use:
    • RV campground or hotel reviews. I love seeing reviews of places I’m thinking of staying from a person actually staying there. 
    • Ideas of things to pack for a region. 
    • Things to do or specific itineraries for your length of trip.
    • I also love compilation videos of “Best cheap destinations” or “Best islands vacation”. These give me inspiration and ideas for my next trip.
      • @Hey Nadine usually does one in collaboration with multiple other channels every new year on best places to visit. 
    • Sit down travel conversation videos.
      • I love @Backpacking Bananas for her pre-trip discussions. 

If you’re not using Youtube to plan your trips, you are in for a wonderful treat. I watch as many videos as I can on destinations I have in mind.

Snapfish

  • Cost: Will vary depending on your product you choose 
  • How to use:
    • Creating a photo book! Or if you traveled with family, you could gift these for the holidays.
    • Create a “travel wall” with memories from your trips and use Snapfish to print large photos.

This isn’t totally necessary to plan your trip, but it’s a great tool post vacation!

AllTrails

  • Cost: Free 
  • How to Use
    • Create lists of hikes to do in specific destinations..
    • Or search for the best hikes in a region and narrow down your destination based on where the hikes are located. 

This is a fantastic resource while you’re planning your vacation. I have created specific lists for every destination I could think of. 

What I love most about this app is how you can view hikes all over the world!

We saw a black bear while hiking the Abram Falls Hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Pinterest

  • Cost: Free
  • How to use
    • Create boards for specific upcoming trips.
    • Search “Things to do in _______”
    • “Best towns in________”
    • “Things to know before visiting______”
    • Search for images of destinations that inspire you and save for future trip planning
    • Find new blogs to follow

I’m 99.9% positive you already know about Pinterest but maybe you haven’t considered using it to plan your trips. I highly recommend it! It’s a great resource with TONS of information on just about every destination imaginable.

Final Thoughts

There are SO many other books, apps, and websites you can use to help plan your trip! I hope you enjoy a few of my favorite tools for planning RV road trips. Happy Traveling!