July 11, 2014 3:43 pm

5 must-have apps for your summer vacation

Hilary Brodey/Photodisc

TORONTO – Another Canadian summer is upon us and families across the country are busy planning weekend getaways.

But if you can’t manage to pry yourself away from your device to enjoy the great outdoors, don’t worry – there’s an app for that.

Here are some essential summer vacation (or staycation) apps.

READ MORE: How to take care of your smartphone’s battery in the summer heat 

Parks Canada Learn To Camp

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What better way to get the kids excited about camping than an app that teaches you all the must-know basics about camping, such as building a campfire and making smores?

The Parks Canada official app gives users access to a wealth of information about camping essentials, including a camping checklist that parents can use to ensure they have everything they need for their trip.

For kids, the app has some fun features and interactive videos that give demonstrations on how to light a fire (so long as they are old enough and parents are present), setting up a tent and information about wildlife.

For the always-prepared parent, the app also includes park information for all provincial and national parks across the country.

Even better – the app downloads all of its information the first time you use it, so it can still be accessed if there is no cell service or Wi-Fi on your campsite – just make sure you download the app at home first.

The Parks Canada Learn to Camp app is available on iOS and Android for free.

Anti Mosquito

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There is a downside to summer nights in the Canadian wilderness – mosquitoes. Most would try anything to keep these pesky insects away, so why not an app?

The Anti Mosquito app emits a high frequency sound – silent to the human ear – that is designed to keep insects away. All you do is turn the app on and keep your phone nearby to ward off pests.

While the app’s creators note that it won’t provide 100 per cent protection from bugs (you would miss the glow of your citronella candles anyway), one less mosquito bite is better than nothing.

Anti Mosquito is available on iOS and Android for free.

Geocaching

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Whether in the backyard, or at a provincial park, the Geocaching app turns the ground at your feet into a treasure hunt.

Using your smartphone’s location services GPS, the app allows you to enter your postal code (or the postal code of the nearest location to you) and start looking for a hidden “geocache.” Once found, take a picture and log that you’ve found the treasure to earn points.

Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunting game that has users navigate to various GPS coordinates to find “geocaches” – which can range from large plastic containers, to film canisters and even face rocks with secret hiding places.

Geocaching is available for iOS and Android for $9.99.

Star Walk

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Perfect for those heading north of the city (where there is less light pollution interfering with beautiful night skies), Star Walk lets users see the universe in a whole new light.

Using your iPhone’s camera, the app acts as an interactive astro-guide, following your movements to reveal what constellations and celestial bodies you are looking at. The app has a database of over 200,000 celestial bodies.

A cool feature even allows you to travel through time and take a look at the map of what the night sky looked like years into the past.

Star Walk is available for iOS for $0.99.

Camping Games

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Whether you are at the cottage or hanging around the campsite, why not partake in some good ol’ fashioned campfire games.

From “20 Questions” to “Two Truths and a Lie,” this app lists the rules and variations of almost every campfire game you played as a kid. Plus, the app works offline in case you don’t have Internet or cellphone service.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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