Do You Want to be a Savvy Traveller?

You can’t go wrong with these tried and true travel planning apps.

Nowadays, a smartphone is your best travel agent. There are great apps available for everything from planning your trip, booking flights and other transportation, and keeping your vacation running smoothly. Here are some favourite traveller-friendly apps and online tools to make the logistics of your next Ontario vacation even easier—but if you want someone else to manage all the planning, try these package vacations.

Where To Go

Ontario is a big province with fifteen incredible and diverse travel regions to explore. Learn more about what each region has to offer through their tourism websites and social media channels. Find out about events, things to see and do, places to stay, food and drink and get insider tips.

Or you can plan your trip by selecting your favourite thing to do—outdoor adventures, festivals, food and drink, fishing and more. Can’t decide? Get inspired by these stories about Ontario

Places to Stay

For a unique stay just about anywhere in Ontario, check out Ways to Stay. Choose from Hotels and Inns, Resorts and Lodges, Camping and Glamping, B&Bs and Cottages, or Motels and Hostels.

People in a hot pool in winter beside a resort.
It's easy to find the perfect resort for your getaway. 

Be sure to review the comments, ratings and compare prices on Tripadvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, Trivago, or Kayak.

For an Airbnb, download the app for Android and iOS. Find (and reserve) a great campsite on the Ontario Parks website. If you’re looking for a last-minute hotel room at a bargain price, check out Hotel Tonight (download the app—Android, iOS). Cottage and vacation rentals are great options if you love the outdoors. The shared economy has made countless rental properties in central and northern Ontario available, where you can enjoy family holidays on crystal-clear lakes. To find your dream cottage, check out Canada Stays, which includes listings in all of Ontario’s finest cottage areas. Ontario Cottage Rentals is another great web resource, while the global vacation rental hub VRBO supports apps for Android and iOS.

Nature and the Environment

Get a better sense of Ontario’s rich natural history through your smartphone. iNaturalist is a great general-interest app with user-friendly platforms for Android and iOS. If you’re a birder, check out Audubon Bird Guide (download the app for Android and iOS). Ontario Wildflowers is an excellent resource to help identify plant life, with smartphone apps for both Android and iOS). To learn more about the stars in the night sky, check out SkyMap for Android or SkyView for iOS mobile platforms.

Close up image of a beautiful bird sitting on a tree branch.
Immerse yourself in Ontario’s diverse environment with a nature app like iNaturalist. Photo: @ontarioparks

Parks Canada’s app (for Android and iOS) offers travel tips, trail maps, and a whole host of cool features so you can easily find Parks Canada sites where you can do your favourite activities. Learn about nature through an Ontario Parks interpretive program or event.

Savings and Sharing Costs

For travel discounts, download the Groupon Canada app for Android and iOS, and here’s a handy website for maximizing your credit card rewards. You can also check out Attractions Ontario for the top things to do in the area you’re visiting, and get coupons for those attractions. For dealing with the complications of splitting bills on a group trip, check out Splitwise (download the app for Android or iOS) to take the guesswork and awkwardness out of sharing expenses.

Weather

Screen capture of a map with weather forecasts across the bottom.
Windy is a great app to produce specific weather forecasts for your next Ontario vacation—even remote locations. Screenshot: Windy.com

Environment Canada is a trusted source with Android and iOS mobile apps to get accurate weather forecasts for communities across Ontario. For even more specific weather data (and a range of forecast sources), check out Windy. This highly touted Android- and iOS-friendly app was developed for watersport enthusiasts, but it’s evolved to generate detailed weather forecasts for any location on the globe.

Listen Up and Get Inspired

Great travel podcasts can inspire your next vacation: Zero to Travel is a top-rated podcast that includes great hacks and inspiring stories, available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. For quicker fixes, check out Travel in 10 (download for Apple Podcasts or Spotify) for brief profiles of countless travel destinations.

Social Media

Screen capture of Instagram page for #discoveron.
Be sure to use the hashtag #DiscoverOn in the description of all your Ontario photos. Screenshot: Instagram.com

If you haven’t already, be sure to connect with Ontario Travel on Facebook (mobile apps are available for Android and iOS) to get the latest information in adventure packages for countless destinations across Ontario’s vast geography. if you’re on Instagram, be sure to download the app for Android and iOS and check out Ontario feeds like Destination Northern Ontario, Ontario Travel, and Ontario Parks. Use the hashtag #DiscoverOn in the description of all your Ontario photos.

General Travel

Google’s ever-expanding list of life-improving apps includes Google Flights—a tool that allows you to find and book the cheapest flights from your Android phone. Google Maps also integrates many great vacation planning tools, including transit tips and cycling routes—and it’s available for Android and iOS.

Hopper (Android, iOS) is another great way to find cheap flights and accommodations; the app provides price predictions over time and claims savings up to 40%. Kayak (download the app for Android or iOS), Expedia (Android, iOS) and Travelocity (Android, iOS) offer similar services, opening the door to great deals and vacations in Ontario. Meanwhile, TripAdvisor’s mobile app for Android and iOS is an excellent source of vacation ideas and reviews of hotels and restaurants.

Air and Rail

Advertisement for Via Rail. People sitting on a train.
Via Rail’s website and mobile app allows you to book trips by train to many great Ontario destinations. Screenshot: viarail.ca

You can book flights to many Ontario destinations and manage your reservations through smartphone apps for Air Canada (download the app for Android and iOS) and WestJet (download the app for Android and iOS). Meanwhile, Porter Airlines offers bookings through its website only. Via Rail offers passenger service to many destinations in Eastern, Southern, Central, and Northern Ontario. Download the app for Android and iOS.

To track flights, check out Flightradar24—a mobile app for Android and iOS that shows commercial aircraft locations, including flight numbers, destinations and estimated times of arrival, around the world in real time—or FlightStats (download the app for Android or iOS), which allows you to search for specific flights.

Getting Around: Driving, Transit and Trails

If you’re driving, Gas Buddy (download the app for Android and iOS) will help you find the cheapest price at the pumps in dozens of Ontario communities. 511on.ca provies up-to-the-minute transit and traffic reports in Ontario. Uber ride-sharing services are available in many larger Ontario centres. Download the app for Android and iOS.

iOverlander has developed a cult following of diehard under-the-radar travellers around the world, with recommended campsites, dining, and vehicle mechanics, among other resources. Download the mobile app for Android and iOS and dig into a huge repository of adventure travel information.

City Mapper (with mobile apps for Android and iOS) is a great personal assistant for getting around urban areas, such as Toronto or Ottawa. The app provides route information for driving, transit, walking, and cycling. Waze is another great mobile app for Android and iOS that helps you plan a route in real time based on actual traffic conditions.

Two woman taking selfies while standing over their bicycles.
More than selfies, use your phone to download maps from Ontario By Bike. 

Find great cycling routes and bicycle-friendly places to eat, visit, and sleep at Ontario By Bike. If you’re looking for hiking trails and recommended other cycling routes, you can’t go wrong with Trailforks (download the app for Android and iOS) or AllTrails (download the app for Android and iOS). Both options allow you to join an ever-growing community of adventure enthusiasts and upload and share your own favourite Ontario adventures.

Travel Like a Local

Outdoor skating at night at Toronto's waterfront.
Apps like Driftscape and PackPoint will help you identify secret Ontario gems and pack the right stuff to enhance your vacation. Photo: @jgazze

For local knowledge and insider tips for Toronto (soon to expand to other cities), check out the Driftscape website and mobile app for Android and iOS. PackPoint is a great resource to make sure there’s nothing missing on your packing list. The Android or iOS app helps you create a list based on the destination, weather and activities, to make sure you don’t leave anything behind yet keep your luggage as streamlined as possible. You can also hone in on free Internet hotspots when you’re on the move with the convenient WiFi Map—apps are available for Android and iOS.

Other great websites and apps for local knowledge include Yelp (find the best restaurants and bars with this Android and iOS app), XE Currency (a trusted mobile platform for currency exchange if you’re traveling to Ontario from another country—available for Android and iOS), and Google Translate (a go-to mobile resource that supported by Android and iOS for language tips).

If you check out these apps and websites, you'll become a more savvy traveller in no time. 

About Conor Mihell

Conor Mihell is an award-winning environmental and adventure travel writer based in Sault Ste. Marie. Read his work in the Globe and Mail, Explore, Cottage Life, Canoe & Kayak, ON Nature, and other magazines and newspapers. He's been a sea kayak guide on Lake Superior for close to 20 years, and has paddled from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. 

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