Today's post is from Cherie Ve Ard of Technomadia, a well-known RV blogger who has provided RVParking.com with lots of great reviews. Stay tuned for a Las Vegas RV Park review and more photos of the day. If you are interested in contributing to the blog or have an idea for blog post, please let us know.
My partner Chris and I have been full timing in a small RV since 2006.
Unlike a lot of full-time RV'ers, we are relatively young (we are in our late 30's), and far from retirement. And though people often assume that we must be independently wealthy or on some sort of extended vacation, these images of us could not be further from the truth.
Rather, we consider ourselves technomads, and have taken our high tech careers on the road with us. As long as we have our laptops and a way to access the internet, we can literally work from anywhere. And for 5 years - we have done just that!
We have some steady clients that we do consulting work and high end custom software development for that provide our primary income, but after a couple years on the road, we began to realize that there wasn't "an app for that" that handled some of the unique issues that full-time RV'ers like ourselves face.
With some spare time in between projects, last year we decided to start dabbling in iPhone application development. We figured the worst case would be we had fun, learned some new skillsets and ended up with something useful. Best case, we'd generate a touch of ongoing passive income.
To be completely honest, one of the first app ideas we started speccing out was an app that would compile a list of all of the RV-friendly campgrounds around the country, gathering lots of information on them and allowing for reviews - all accessible on a mobile device.
Fortunately RVParking.com launched around that same time, saving us an immense amount of hard work. We have to say, the folks at RVParking have done a fabulous job and have created something very close to our vision. Kudos to them!
Then we thought about all the little laws and regulations that change with each state we traveled into. It was a confusing chore even trying to keep track of which states had rules about handsfree cellphone use, txting while driving, rest area time limits, triple towing limitations, blue laws that prevented buying real beer in grocery stores, smoking bans in restaurants (yay!), and so on.
We also noticed that planning our fuel stops or shopping runs in states with lower tax rates could really pay off, but looking up these always changing tax rates was too much work to keep on top of.
So last year, we launched our first iPhone app, 'State Lines' - which tracks over 50 state laws that affect travelers. Since then, we've also launched the app for HP's WebOS, Windows Phone 7, and soon we will be supporting Android as well. We also have the information available in a PDF eBook format that may not be able to auto-locate the nearest state, but which can be opened on any device - including your laptop, or even printed.
The next app we launched solved a very different problem. Like many travelers, we carry multiple cellular devices to get online with - most recently we've been depending on an aircard from Verizon and tethering on our iPhones from AT&T. And no matter what the advertising claims, every carrier's coverage maps leave a lot to be desired, particularly if you are interested in fast data and are often away from major metro areas. As every traveler knows, sometimes finding a usable signal can be the most frustrating thing in the world.
And while we can check each carrier's web-based coverage maps online, it's a chore. And impossible to do if you currently don't have any signal at all. There have been so many times that we just needed to know which direction to start heading to get a signal to check e-mail or join in on a conference call. So, a few months ago we launched 'Coverage?' for iPhone & iPad.
'Coverage?' provides an at-a-glance "universal" coverage map by interactively overlaying the coverage maps from the four major nationwide US cellular providers. And unlike the online tools, 'Coverage?' works while offline - when you need it the most. 'Coverage?' also lets you zero in on the type of coverage you need - 4G, 3G, or any at all. And it can even help you avoid roaming areas.
We've found 'Coverage?' to be an awesome way to help planning which route to take for days we need to keep connected, or selecting which town to overnight in with the best odds of being able to get a usable fast connection.
A lot of people ask us if mobile app development is worth pursuing as a mobile-friendly career. And to be honest, it can be - particularly as a fun and rewarding side job. It doesn't take a large investment to get started, and there are great free online training and developer resources. But it takes a lot of luck to win big in the mobile application lottery, and very few developers do. It takes more than just a great idea - you need solid execution, a marketing plan, and if you want to get seen it takes a lot of outreach to reviewers and the press.
Targeting a niche audience with specialized apps is not a good way to strike it rich, but we are very happy that our apps have been able to earn us a bit of beer money every day.
And for us - we didn't go into this looking to get rich. We wrote both of these apps because as full time travelers, we needed them, and there is nothing else like them out there.
We now regularly use both our apps in our travels, and they have proven to be extremely useful to us. And we love getting so much great feedback from other travelers (and online reviewers) who have also been finding our apps to be indispensable.
If you try them, let us know what you think!
Here are the key links:
Platform: iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch (Universal)
App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/coverage/id388815949?mt=8
Demo Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNNzUtjgJIo (Still shows off version 1.0 - current version is 2.3)
App URL: http://www.technomadia.com/apps/Coverage.html
Title: 'State Lines'
Platform: iPhone / iPod Touch / eBook / Windows Phone 7 / WebOS (iPad Universal and Android coming soon)
App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/app/state-lines/id371852080?mt=8
App URL: http://www.technomadia.com/apps/State_Lines.html
eBook URL: http://www.technomadia.com/store
Technomads Cherie Ve Ard and Chris Dunphy have been on the road together since May 2007 - traveling, living, working and playing full-time in a small solar powered RV, embracing nomadic serendipity.
Their most recent adventure has them hitting the road in pursuit of the ideal vintage bus to turn into their next home and office on wheels. Follow their adventures at: www.technomadia.com