Replacing your RV GPS unit with a smartphone app

Last Updated: 19.02.20


Replacing your RV GPS unit with a smartphone app- is it a good idea?


You depend on your RV GPS unit to provide you with reliable and concise directions. Since it is configured to the exact specifications of your RV you can confidently drive down unfamiliar roads without worrying about getting stuck under low hanging bridges or in areas that aren’t designed to handle your large recreational vehicle. Chances are you also have easy access to campsites, services stations and other amenities that are RV friendly, so why would you want to replace your GPS unit with a smartphone app?


Many travelers are taking advantage of the free GPS apps that are available for most smartphones. Google and Apple Maps are two apps popular with drivers, along with Waze and MapQuest. These apps are capable of providing you with accurate maps and most come with audible directions, along with the ability to alert you when you are approaching safety and traffic cameras. While these smartphone apps can get you to your destination there are still several reasons why you might not want to get rid of your RV GPS.

The main benefit of a smartphone app is that you will receive traffic and map updates faster than a standalone unit and this can make it easier to get to your destination. Other than that, chances are you will want to stick with your RV GPS especially on long road trips. Most smartphone apps are not designed for you to input the specific information about your vehicle, and this is important when you are driving a large RV. A GPS device for RVs will help you avoid roads that are too narrow to drive on safely, along with any areas where large vehicles might be restricted.

Unless you downloaded the GPS app to your tablet the small screen on your smartphone is usually hard to see when you are driving, and this can be dangerous. This is rarely a problem with an RV GPS since you can find some with screens measuring up to 7 inches. You also do not get the same information from an app. Most GPS units will display your current and posted speeds, and will alert you whenever it changes. Not only is this a convenient safety feature, it can also help you avoid expensive speeding tickets.


Most smartphone apps are currently only able to provide one route with a starting and ending point, while RV GPS units are able to display it in segments. This allows you to easily plan for stops without having to input your information again. These apps also take a toll on your smartphone’s battery, and its’ small speaker makes it almost impossible to hear the audible alerts when you are driving. Not only will you need to purchase an additional speaker, you will also need to find a mount that is compatible with your smartphone. While RV GPS units come with a convenient mount for “hands free” use, the same is not true with most smartphones.

Even though there are a few advantages to downloading one of these apps to your smartphone, they are still not enough to replace the convenience and accuracy that you get with a RV GPS device.


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