Your Phone is Now the Best RV Navigation Tool
For years, RVers had few choices when it came to finding a GPS for safely navigating to their favorite campgrounds. Many RVs include a Garmin GPS in the dash, while Rand McNally offered a decent aftermarket option, followed by TomTom and Magellan.
That domination is rapidly changing as apps like the RV LIFE GPS & Campgrounds app, included with RV LIFE Trip Wizard, take center stage. With advancements in both size and technology, today’s modern smartphone is proving to be the best platform for the next generation of GPS apps for use in your RV.
1. RV GPS Apps are cheaper
With aftermarket RV GPS units selling for $300-$600, even a moderately priced RV navigation app will be significantly cheaper. As many apps are annual subscriptions, expect to get the equivalent of 5-10 years worth of app use for every stand-alone GPS you would buy.
2. They run on your new Apple or Android devices
Phones and other mobile devices are replaced fairly regularly. While some owners keep their phones for up to three years, the average iPhone or Samsung device is active for just 18 months or less. This means you are essentially replacing your GPS hardware every two years. You are less likely to do that with a dedicated GPS for your RV that costs several hundred dollars.
3. You won’t pay for features you don’t need
Today’s dedicated stand-alone RV GPS units often include features your phone already has. GPS devices with Bluetooth hands-free calling allow you to speak to your GPS, as you would Siri or Alexa.
However, if you have ever driven a motorhome or towed a large RV, having a conversation with your RV GPS is a distraction you cannot afford. Your smartphone already has hands-free calling.
4. It’s much easier to plan an RV trip
Aftermarket RV navigation devices make a cursory attempt at preloading a limited selection of campgrounds and points of interest data. However, you aren’t going to have enough data to be able to plan all of the necessary details of your RV trip. Nor is that easy to do while sitting behind the steering wheel.
Collaborating with your family in front of your computer with an RV trip planning tool lets you plan all of the details of your trip. When you get in your RV to take that RV vacation, simply pull the trip up on your phone or GPS enabled mobile device and hit the road.
An added bonus is that you won’t have to enter any destinations into your phone. By accessing the trips you have already created, all of the stops and destinations are already there. Just tap and go with RV-safe directions based on the RV dimensions you have entered.
5. Updating your app is automatic
For years, one of the knocks on stand-alone GPS devices is the update process. Updating a GPS through cables, Wi-Fi, or SD cards can be difficult. It can also be costly. Less expensive GPS devices can ding you for a map update fee, as high as $80 per year.
Some of the more expensive stand-alone RV navigation products include lifetime maps, but you pay heavily upfront for that feature. Lifetime can be a subjective term as well. You have no real idea how long you will have the device before it becomes obsolete, gets lost or stolen, or breaks down after the warranty period.
Most phone apps can be updated automatically and very easily. There is no need to connect any cables or cards. Very often apps will update on standard 4G or 5G, so you can update from almost anywhere.
The best RV GPS is an app
The modern smartphone has already replaced the camera, alarm clock, radio, television, and even flashlight. It’s time it replaced your RV GPS as well. One option is the RV LIFE GPS & Campgrounds app.
While available as an annual subscription, this app is also included free with every RV LIFE Trip Wizard subscription, both soon to be part of a bundle called RV LIFE Pro. You can learn more about RV LIFE Trip Wizard at www.rvtripwizard.com.
All around RV industry enthusiast who has been RVing for 8 years and enjoys trips with his wife and dogs in their big diesel pusher.