Using The “Allstays” and “Google Maps” Apps

There are a lot of ways to look for places to camp, and so far my favorites are the Allstays and Google Maps apps.  Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be without them.  I paid $10 for Allstays about 3 years ago, and Google Maps was free, but for me they are both priceless in my search for places to camp.

First I make a plan.

So I’m in Arizona and I want to go to Michigan, by way of North Dakota to stop and see friends in both places. I want cool temperatures if they are available, and I want to avoid tornados!  I’d like to see Canyon De Chelly and Mesa Verde.  I’d like to arrive at my friends home in Michigan around Memorial Day.  I’ll have the summer to spend tooling around Michigan, but I want to be back in Montana by September 1 for a Casita Rally.

There are a lot of ‘legs’ to this journey, and I can plan them at separate times.  I’ve found that I like to reserve ahead, when reservations are possible, because I like to know where I’m going, and when.  It puts my mind at ease.  I prefer to travel less than 200 miles a day, and I don’t like to travel every day, even when I’m ‘en route’ somewhere.

So, I go to my Allstays app and start looking for places that are less than 200 miles apart.


I’m using the KOA where I am now as an example.  You can see that there are other options here.  You can filter what you would like Allstays to show you.


Here are some of the filters.  You just check them off.

One thing Allstays doesn’t do well and that is mileage, so I go to Google Maps to check distances.


You can bet I’ve got paper maps out too…and my notebook and a pen.

At first I’ll be clicking on icons for places to stay, to see if there is anything I like.  I might do this for a day or a week or more, making notes.  I might be looking at various routes, and looking to see what is nearby that I might like to see or visit.

When I get to the point of wanting to start making reservations, it’s because I’ve decided on a route and I have a pretty good idea about the distances involved.

When I click on an icon in Allstays, the name of the place comes up.


Like this.  Now I know the name of the place, KOA Campground Gaylord.  If I want to know more, I can click on the ‘i’ in the rectangle, and then this happens:


This box pops up.  This one gives a lot of info, some places don’t give as much.  What you can’t see in this picture continues on to mention this place has free internet, cable tv, it’s pet friendly, they have a pool, and it mentions other amenities.

Next, if I’m still interested, I can usually click on ‘website’ in the green box,


And I’m there.  In the case of KOA’s, State Parks, National Parks and some other places, I can make a reservation right from that website if I choose to.  Other places require a phone call or email, and that info would be provided either in the box or at the website.

There are usually pictures on the website, but if I want to see more, I can go back to Google Maps, where people post photos and of course there are the photos from above, including the surrounding area.  Like this.  The blue dot is there because I’m taking photos on my tablet, with my phone, and that dot is me.


I can look closer….


I like that I’m seeing so many trees.

Even closer.


Google Maps also has helpful reviews.


So, say I couldn’t find a place to stay in the particular area I had hoped to stay in.  Then I’ll need to adjust my travel and go farther, or not quite as far as I planned.  Depending on what’s available this could change things a lot, so I like to make the actual reservation, or at least have some close by options, before moving on to reserve the next stay.  How long I stay in one spot might depend on when something is available at the next place I’m interested in.

It might take me a week or two to get a ‘leg’ of my journey in place.  That’s ok because I have time, and when I’m done, I have a plan, and for me that feels good.


Aren’t they a beautiful green?

But what if I change my mind for some reason?

Most places are not set in stone.  Because I’m a VIP KOA member now, I can cancel without any penalty.  Every place has a cancelation policy.  It can range from, if you have the courtesy to notify them 48 hours ahead, or by noon of that day…whatever the policy…there is no penalty, to costing $10….or a full nights stay….to cancel even if you tell them a month ahead.  Checking the cancelation policy before you book is always a good idea!  When I’ve had to cancel at State Parks or COE’s, my money has been refunded.

I do almost all of this planning with my tablet, which receives cellular signals as well as wifi, which is very convenient.

So hope that gives you an idea about how the planning can be done.  I love the planning part myself, and I have the time, so it’s actually fun for me!

And now some doggie pictures!


This is Big Lake.  It’s not very big really, but that’s what it’s called.  When I was about 8 years old  (Whoa!  60 years ago!) my parents rented a cabin on this lake and we spent a week here.  Now there are no cabins,  and it’s all private property around the  lake except for this one little access spot with a boat launch area.


And there was some grass to roll in for Joy…


And that made everybody happy campers.


Moving on tomorrow, across Big Mac, back to the UP!

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17 Responses to Using The “Allstays” and “Google Maps” Apps

  1. Patty says:

    Good explanation Micky! We use those two also. And with the “GasBuddy” app you’re covered.
    Do you listen to podcasts? A few that we like are Here’s The Thing w/ Alec Baldwin, How I Built This and The Moth. Sometimes sitting back in your favorite chair with a cool one and then listening works too.

    • Hi Patty, you know I haven’t gotten into pod casts. I’m not sure why except it does take up precious data, and often the wifi at RV parks is so bad it’s not usable, so I end up using my Cellular. Then where I was last winter, I basically had none. (Version is available out there though. ) That being said, the KOA in Gaylord and at the place I am now, the wifi is very decent.

      The Moth makes me very curious…? 🙃

  2. Thanks so much for the very useful information regarding finding a site and your method for doing this. We use Allstays a lot but I haven’t really used Google Maps so now I can add that tool to the box.

    • Gerri I really think you will love Google Maps! You can search ‘restaurants near me’, ‘vets near St Ignace, MI’, Same with grocery stores, Walmart, RV parks, and you can zoom in and check out what stores are in town, where good parking is, and if there is good turn around space at some beach parking lot, etc, etc, etc. you can even see if the road you want to use has more than one lane, and in some cases the condition of it! It’s a camera on the world….

  3. Gene says:

    In my travels I’ve also found Allstays absolutely the best. Last year we traveled from Florida to Michigan and had to rush a bit because of our campground reservations at Cottonwood in Lansing. We used allstays to locate Walmart stores which allowed overnight stays. We always called and ask permission and found the app information accurate and very helpful. I grew up in West Branch which is fairly near your recent travels and former home. I’t’s beautiful country and we hope to take our RV up that way again next summer. I enjoy your blog immensely.

    • Hi Gene, so glad to hear you enjoy the blog!

      With Allstays/Google Maps/ and other similar apps…so much info at our fingertips…just amazing. Makes me wonder how I used to travel with only paper maps. But I did…criss crossed the country a number of times and did ok, but now I do much better.

      Yes, West Branch isn’t far from Tawas!

  4. dawnkinster says:

    I haven’t used KOAs. My folks used to when we were kids. Maybe I should check them out. Do you see tents there?

    • Oh yes Dawn, lots of tents and depending on the park, sometimes really nice areas….and sometimes not as nice. The tent area in Hot Springs SD KOA was just outstanding, all back in the woods and secluded, with tent pads and electricity…best of both worlds.

      The place I am now in St Ignace has an outstanding tent area too, though it’s not KOA. More about that later.

  5. Ego says:


  6. Marsha Hein says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve often wondered what the process was. sounds like fun!

  7. Reader says:

    Do tell how one becomes a KOA VIP?

  8. Hi Reader. Apparently one has to collect a certain amount of points which would occur when one has stayed at KOA’s a certain amount of times. I don’t know how many points or times. One day I found the KOA VIP card in my mail with a letter of congratulations, is all I know. What I like the best about this is being able to cancel without a penalty, and I’ve tried it and it works!

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