There’s no denying that smartphones and their handy apps have revolutionized travel. Whether it’s booking flights and hotels, navigating new cities and finding parking, or gaining insight on local attractions, phone apps make many aspects of travel much easier.
With Canadians aiming to be fully vaccinated by September, the easing of border restrictions will hopefully allow vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter Canada without having to get tested or go through quarantine.
To get you ready for your future Canadian holiday, I thought I’d introduce you to some of Canada’s top most useful travel apps.
While you may already have Airbnb, Uber, and Google Translate to help with French speaking regions like Quebec, you may not be aware that there are other incredible apps which are in many cases specifically designed for travelers visiting Canada.
Whether you need a campsite in Banff, want to check the winter ski forecasts, or looking for a Canada mobile casino due to the fact 65% of Canada’s top casinos including Casino Niagara and Casino de Montréal are still closed thanks to COVID, here are ten incredible Canadian travel apps you should download before your trip.
Top 10 Most Useful Canada Travel Apps
Nearly all travelers to Canada are now being urged to download the ArriveCan mobile app to be able to provide the mandatory travel information on and after their entry into Canada as a way to prevent the spread of COVID.
While you won’t be denied flight boarding or entry for failing to submit the required information through ArriveCAN, you will be forced to face additional delays at the border for public health questioning and may be subject to enforcement action, so it pays to just download the app and upload the necessary information.
There is potential hefty fines and even possible prison time for travelers who violate health and travel safety instructions or fail to provide accurate information.
The ArriveCAN app allows you to upload your Canadian travel and contact information, your quarantine plan (air travellers are currently required to book a 3-night stay at a government-authorized hotel and are given a trip reference code they are to input in ArriveCAN), and complete daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessments until the completion of your quarantine period or until you report symptoms.
After inputting the required information, a receipt will be emailed to you or you can take a screenshot of your confirmation which you will then need to show to a Canadian border services officer upon entry.
The Canadian government is likely to continue using this app in some form even after border restriction ease, although exact required information may change.
Air Canada + Aeroplan
If you’re going to download one airline app for Canada, it’s likely to be this one since Air Canada in undoubtedly the nation’s largest and most popular airline.
Part of Star Alliance, Air Canada serves more than 200 destinations worldwide which includes all major Canadian cities and is widely regarded as one of North America’s finest airlines.
The Air Canada + Aeroplan app allows you to book flights, access your boarding passes offline, and get notifications when there’s a gate change and when it’s time to board. You can also view the in-flight menu and stream movies, shows, and music via Air Canada’s Rouge Player.
You can also check your Air Canada Aeroplan frequent flyer loyalty program account to see your points balance and use your points to book car rentals or hotels.
The airline’s app is also the first Canadian airline app to offer very helpful turn-by-turn navigation to popular Canadian airports such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Parks Canada – National App
A large number of visitors to Canada come to enjoy the country’s vast wilderness. Canada offers up nearly 50 national parks and national park reserves, where a wide range of wildlife can be found including bears, wolves, and moose.
The Parks Canada app allows you to view the various national parks and historic sites to find ones you may wish to visit. You can plan your itinerary and download hiking trail maps.
You’ll find a list of things to do in each park, basic camping tips with advice for what you should pack, and links to the various websites where you can make camping reservations within the parks.
The app goes beyond the major national parks to bring you the country’s hidden natural gems. With at least one national park in each of Canada’s provinces and territories, you’re bound to find a park near your chosen travel destination.
Canada Topo Maps
Canada Topo Maps comes in both a free and paid app version, and complements the Parks Canada app nicely. Whether you’re planning to hike, mountain, bike, or kayak, having topographic maps comes in handy.
You are able to download maps for offline viewing for when you know you won’t have cell data, and the route tracking uses GPS signals from satellites.
The free version of this outdoor navigation app allows you to create waypoints, GoTo-waypoint-navigation, and create and share routes and waypoints via Facebook, with map layers such as Google Maps available.
The pro version allows you to use point-to point navigation where you can track your speed, elevation gain, and distance travelled.
This is the only paid app in our list but it’s both cheap and a simple one time purchase. WikiCamps Canada offers up the nation’s largest database of campsites whether you’re looking for basic camping or a state of the art RV park.
Many of the app’s features work offline and new campsites are constantly being added. Currently, there are already over 9,000 different campsites where you can view photos and read recent reviews.
You can fine tune your campsite search results to reveal locations that are powered/non-powered, allow dogs, offer showers, have toilets, provide dump stations, etc. The app even features a helpful 7-day weather forecast.
An alternative free version to WikiCamps Canada is iOverlander. This app isn’t specific to Canada but since many travellers choose to travel as overlanders across the vast stretches of Canadian wilderness, it is used widely by visitors here.
The app is a very useful tool for campers much like WikiCamps Canada, with its maps offering up helpful locations not often found on campsite locators such as laundromats, auto mechanics, propane filling stations, potable water locations, restaurants, and even nearby tourist attractions.
New updated sites and information is constantly being added, as you yourself can add new places in order to share knowledge with other overlanders and campers. It’s an app that’s truly built by a community of outdoor and camping lovers.
Canada offers up some of the world’s finest winter skiing and the iSki Canada app is a must whether you’re heading to Canada’s top ski resorts such as Whistler or Lake Louise.
The app offers comprehensive information on most of Canada’s top ski resorts where you can view the latest ski resort updates.
Look up snow reports and forecasts, view ski trail maps, and watch various ski resorts’ live web cams. A GPS tracker also allows you to record your ski runs, measuring your speed, time, distance, etc. Share your skills on the slopes with your friends and compete against other skiers within the app for prizes.
Both Canadian residents and visitors love the PayByPhone Parking app as it allows you to search for parking no matter if you’re looking for street parking, secure gated parking, or parking garages.
Better yet is the fact you no longer need to search for spare change for a parking meter or even use your credit card at parking pay stations. You can simply use your phone to pay for your parking.
You can search maps for where you can pay for parking using the PayByPhone app and don’t even need to create an account. There are countless locations around Canada where you can use PayByPhone including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Quebec, Winnipeg, and more.
Not only can you pay for parking with the app, you can also receive notifications of when your parking is due to expire and can extend your parking session remotely from your phone with the app.
Nearly 100 million people have downloaded the GasBuddy app which helps residents of the U.S. and Canada find the cheapest fuel around so you don’t waste any precious dollars of your travel budget.
The app looks at over 150,000 gas stations in North America to let you see where you can fill up for the least amount. You can narrow gas station results to show specific brands such as Shell, Exxon, Marathon, or Sunoco. You can also seek out stations that offer restrooms, car wash facilities, or onsite restaurants.
The app also allows business travellers the ability to log their fuelling stops for tax purposes or getting reimbursed by their company. It also offers tips on how you can become a more fuel-efficient driver and you can enter daily drawing to win free gas vouchers.
My Aurora Forecast
Winter visitors to Canada can not only enjoy skiing and ice skating, they may be able to also witness one of Earth’s most fascinating celestial displays. And the My Aurora Forecast app is the best for helping you witness the northern lights.
The mesmerising colourful display that the northern lights or aurora borealis puts on is a truly memorable experience and can be achieved in Canada with a bit of luck between October and March each year.
You can get forecasts of when the display is expected to occur, with helpful KP index updates which measure the geomagnetic activity over a 3-hour period to give you insight on the likelihood of you seeing the display. The KP index ranges from 0-9, with 5 and above offering the best chances of seeing the lights.
The app will show you the best current locations in your area for viewing the lights based on cloud cover and activity. It will also send you notifications when high aurora activity is expected in your chosen area whether that be Whitehorse in the Yukon or Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
The app also offers recommendations for local northern lights tours that are available in your travel destination.