Apps we reccommend
Apps come in handy for every aspect of life, including staying safe while on the road, saving money and finding the nearest fuel station! We’ve tried and tested plenty of the past two years travelling around Australia in our van, so here are the ones that we think are pretty essential!
Apps for staying safe
Phone apps can sometimes be a lifesaver – literally – when it comes to travelling the East Coast of Australia. You’ll pass through areas that have a high risk of bush fire and flash flooding, even severe storms can be more of a risk to someone sleeping in a vehicle.
Living and travelling in a van means you won’t always hear about the warnings on TV/Radio until it’s too late, so these are the apps we’ve used to keep on top of what’s happening around us:
This one is self-explanatory, it pinpoints any and all fires across Australia. It’ll tell you the severity of the fire along with any warnings that have been issued. All fires are listed so if a small bin fire has been reported, it’ll be there along with any major fires so it’s worth clicking into any near you to see if they’re anything to worry about. The only downside is that this app doesn’t update for Queensland (but we found an alternative below)
Current Bushfires – Rural Fire services Queensland
While this isn’t an app, it’s the only free alternative for tracking fires in Queensland. If you visit their website, however, most modern phones allow you to add a bookmark to your home screen. This lets you access the website quickly if you need to.
This is an app used religiously by every Far North Queenslander we met. It’s an app by the Bureau of Meteorology (or ‘the weather people’) and it tracks everything that’s happening in the skies, mainly rain, but you can see any kind of weather forecast on it.
What we liked most about the BOM app was its accuracy. We could see the rain coming on the app and watch the sky darken at the same time. This was really handy for cyclone territory (Queensland’s Far North and Northern Territory) as any severe storms could be monitored and we could track any warnings.
This was our android alternative for the BOM app because we didn’t always have Dec’s phone with us. AUS Rain Radar works in the exact same way as BOM and gets it’s information from them too.
Apps to make travelling easier
Using apps for travel isn’t a new concept but it’s such a saturated market that it’s sometimes hard to pick out what actually works. So these are the ones we’ve used for the entire two years we’ve been travelling around Australia. Anything else is just taking up precious memory.
Bet you’re not surprised to see this here at the top spot. If you’re anything like me and can’t directly from a normal map (and we do own one!) Google Maps gold.
You can download your maps so they work offline and even create an entire road trip route that then works offline too! In fact, that’s what we usually do when we know where we’re wanting to go. Plot it into google and let it guide us from A to B via XYZ.
Are you even a ‘Van-Lifer’ in Australia if you don’t use WikiCamps?
WikiCamps is the champion when it comes to finding free campsites near to you. It’s because of this app that we’ve spent $0 in the whole two years on campsites.
The app was $6 at the time we downloaded it, however, this could have changed. Either way, it is 100% worth it.
It’s not just campsites that WikiCaps is good for though, find free showers, places to park, the nearest wifi spot… anything. The only negative is that it can sometimes take a while to find what you’re looking for due to how much it has to offer (and new things are being added all the time)
Does what it says on the tin; Maps out fuel stops in Australia. Not something you’ll necessarily need it if you’re sticking to the Coast, but it’s handy to have a rough idea where the next stop will be if you’re on a long drive.
It is definitely a necessity for heading inland. It can sometimes be a couple of hours before you come across a servo, this app will help you plan your route accordingly. It will also tell you the fuel prices, which ones have showers, overnight parking etc. It isn’t quite as reliable for showers as Wiki but we’ve managed to find a few on here that weren’t on WikiCamps, prices aren’t always kept up-to-date but it’s never been a big difference to what’s listed.
Apps for saving money
We wished we’d known about this app (and the card that comes with it) sooner!
In the year that we’ve been using Coles Fly-Buys, we’ve earned around $200 to be used in Coles or Kmart (including Kmart tyres). This is the classic ‘points’ system that a lot of stores have, but at Coles, they run weekly bonuses that you can only access if you have the (free) app – things like triple points and extra points for certain products.
Because of how regularly we shop at Coles/Kmart, these points rack up quickly and it’s helped us save money when it comes to our shopping – $200 is 2-3 weeks worth of food shopping for us! More on that next.