Cairn by Wayfarer Vans is a relatively new app brought to you by the Wayfarer Vans founder, Ian! Ian got in touch with us a few weeks back and asked us to give a review of the app and share out about the ways we use it, pros and cons, etc. In this post you’ll learn all those things and more about the Wayfarer Vans Cairn App.

What is Cairn by Wayfarer Vans?

Cairn is an app designed for Wayfarer Van owners, both those with the smaller conversion kit for the Ram Promaster City like us and those with the bigger standup van. The idea for the app is for Wayfarer owners to be able to share safe and fun places to park your van for the night with others in Wayfarer community. Within the app you can do several things:

  • Upload info about a new cool location including photos
  • See where others have parked and what their experience was like
  • Leave a review about a location that someone else has already uploaded to deepen the info about a given place
  • Explore places you’ve never been before
  • Plot out a road trip!
  • Take part in the Wayfarer Community

Info and Specs of the Cairn App

Cost of the Cairn App by Wayfarer Vans: FREE

At the time of writing, the app had been updated on October 1, 2019. The most current version of the app is 1.2.0.

The developer of the app is actually a Wayfarer Van owner named Phil.

How to Download Cairn

The app is supported on both Android and iOS which means if you have an Android phone or an iPhone you can get and use this app. We both use Google Pixel’s so we got our app through the Google Play store. There are a few different apps with ‘Cairn’ in the name so be sure to look for the Wayfarer Vans teal and black logo.

All Wayfarians will get access to the app via a unique code from Ian. Want one? Email him at infof@wayfarervans.com

Pros of Cairn

Join the community!

Helps you find new spots.

One of the strongest pros for Cairn by Wayfarer Vans is that you can use it to find new-to-you spots to park your van. Sure there are other websites and apps out there doing something similar but Cairn is different in that it’s a closed community and is only available to those who have a Wayfarer Van. That means you can rest a little easier that your favorite ‘secret’ spot won’t be completely overrun with other boondockers and van travelers the next time you return.

It’s easy to use.

Cairn doesn’t come with any directions or a help center but it’s straightforward and intuitive with familiar buttons that most users will recognize.

  • The magnifying glass will allow you to search for a location.
  • The + button will allow you to add a new location.
  • The third button on the bottom right hand side toggles between a list (default) and a pin on a map. They allow you to search for locations and sort them by Date Added, Rating, Nearest to Me, and Alphabetical.

In addition to Cairn using familiar buttons like those mentioned above, one of the most used features of the app, the map itself, will be familiar to users because Cairn uses Google maps. You can pinch and zoom on your phone as you would in the regular Google maps app and you can also, if location is turned on and enabled for the app, see your own position on the map. What’s neat about this is that you can see your location as well as some of the sites that other have uploaded nearest you.

You can save locations for future use.

One of the cool things about having Cairn at your fingertips is that it’s a good planning tool. For example, say you know that you’re going to be headed out on a week long road trip. Open up Cairn, figure out what may be on your route and then save the location for future use. Then, when you’re ready to depart, just go into the app and view your saved locations, press “See the Route” and away you go!

Cons

You need a signal in order to use the app

It’s a small con in the scheme of things because as most of you know, when traveling in a camper van you don’t and won’t always have a signal. In fact, getting away from a signal may be a goal of yours. (It definitely is a goal of ours from time to time.) If this is the case, just make sure to open the app before you are out of range and make screen grabs or reservations ahead of time and then it won’t be a con at all.

Once you share about a ‘secret’ spot it’s no longer very secret.

In recent years this seems to be a bit of a ‘hot button issue’ with some travelers claiming that technology is ruining some of the best spots. Some of the lesser known spots pre-Instagram are now being flooded year-round by well meaning tourists out to get a photo. We’re guilty of this! Technology has been a huge resource for us and has helped us see places we never would have known about otherwise. That said it’s true that some of these ‘hidden gems’ are now overcrowded and being damaged. On the other hand, keeping public lands to oneself is never what they were designed for. Public lands are for everyone. Our best recommendation is that if you’re going to be salty the next time you turn up to your favorite ‘secret spot’ and there’s another van parked there then think twice before you share it. If, on the other hand, you’re of the mindset that the more the merrier, then share away.

How to Upload a Location

Uploading a location to Cairn by Wayfarer Vans is easy and intuitive.

There currently isn’t a user guide or help button for the app so consider bookmarking this page if you’d like a reference on how to upload your own location.

The places that a user can choose to upload and add to the database of locations can be either free or paid. At least one photo is required. When uploading you’ll be asked to name the place, give a description, rate it on a scale of 1-5, check off any amenities that the site has (is it pet friendly, reservable, does it have showers, a restroom and/or potable water?) There’s also a spot for a phone number, email address and link. The link is one of the handiest features because it takes you right to the website or booking link (whatever the Wayfarer van fan has put in that spot) from within the app. This is great because it saves you from exiting out of the app, opening a web browser and then searching for the same site online.

When saving a location you can either add an address, latitude and longitude or find it on a map.

When you find a location that you like and might potentially want to stay at, click the ‘Visit Website’ button and depending on what the person uploaded, you might be able to book directly from the app. If you click on it, the window will open and allow you to interact in it. You can also ‘x’ it out to go back to the Wayfarer app.

Once you save a location you can go back and edit the information. For example, the first time we uploaded a location we didn’t notice the tab that let you choose whether it was free or paid. When it went live it was incorrect (the default is free) but it was super easy to go back and make change and save. This is super important since the app is a source of information and it should be as up to date and accurate as possible.

Cairn is only as good as the quality and quantity of sites on it. All content is user generated and while the info screen on the app says that Wayfarer Vans “…attempts to review each and every location that is uploaded…” your best bet is to use common sense when deciding to camp or take roads that aren’t on your map/GPS.

Cairn by Wayfarer Vans Recap

Want to learn more about Cairn the Wayfarer Vans App? Check out this video on the Wayfarer Vans YouTube Channel! Interested in getting it on your own mobile device? Reach out to Ian at info@wayfarervans for your unique code and off you go! We’ve already uploaded a few places and hope to add to the database as we continue our van life travels this winter.

Questions? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Like this and want to learn more about our camper van conversion kit?

Check out some of these posts:

Why We Chose the Wayfarer Conversion Kit for Van Life
Best Tires for the Ram Promaster City
Van Life Essentials: Fall – Winter Gear Guide

Let us know what you think!

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