Vacation appsFrugal northern living does not involve just being frugal when at home. Spending wisely and making your dollar stretch is just as important when traveling south as it is when living in the north.

For many “ southerners” who have moved north, your vacation time may be the time you feel you need to catch up on all the conveniences and luxuries you have gone without by living in the north. Most people have something they are anxiously waiting to do as soon as they land down south. For some it’s a Starbucks coffee, for others a Big Mac, or if you are like me…it’s a smoothie at Booster Juice! 🍓☀️ Simple luxuries, yes, but these can quickly add up too if you fill your vacation with them. It can be hard to stick with a budget when temptation is all around.  A few simple FREE apps can help keep you on track!



IMG_8934My McDs

Although already great prices in comparison with the north, there’s no harm in saving more! This easy to use app brings up coupon codes that you can use at participating restaurants. It offers a selection of coupons, you choose the one you want to redeem and at the press of a button it gives you a QR code to scan for your savings. This works both at the till and at the automated ordering system. Different locations offer different coupons so you can select the location nearest you to see what savings are available. They often have buy one get one free for certain items or a savings of a certain amount (such as save $4 on any $20 purchase)


Second Cup and StarbucksIMG_8791

Both of these coffee chains offer an app with a rewards program. Using the app when you make purchases keeps track of your spending and once you have reached certain thresholds then you are rewarded with free drinks or discounted products. When you first start using the app they give you some incentives. For example, Starbucks emailed me a code for a free drink and Second Cup gave me bonus points to help me reach a free drink reward faster.



FullSizeRender 3One of my all time favourite ways to save while on vacation is using Groupon. They offer deals at amazing prices (often 20-80% off regular price) and they have helped us discover new places and new activities that we would never have found on our own. We’ve been able to go on boat tours, city tours, and dine out at great restaurants all while saving an average of 50% off regular price. We have literally saved hundreds on our vacations because of planning ahead and using the groupons. Having the app is also handy in that you can select “ find deals near me” and it will use your location to help you find nearby deals. It’s a great way to discover new places and things to do that you may not have found otherwise!



Amazon – when surrounded by all the shopping malls and department stores in the south, why worry FullSizeRenderabout an amazon app? Well, since the airlines reduced the luggage allowance last year from two 70lbs bags to one 50lb bag, you have to be a lot more discerning in your shopping.
When considering purchasing items think “can I order this online instead?” And “how much will I save if I purchase this now but have to pay for additional luggage fees?” The amazon app makes it easy for me to make those decisions. When in a store I can quickly scan an item and see if it’s available on Amazon and what the price is. I can read any shipping restrictions that may prevent it from heading north. If it’s a good price online, I add it to my amazon shopping cart to save for later, and I save the room in my suitcase for things I can’t purchase online or for things that offer a greater savings that make it worth while to purchase while down south. I’ve even found times when Amazon was quite a bit cheaper than the location where I was, so I saved on more than shipping it up!


Spender (Budgeting app)

For our everyday life in the north we use an app called Well Spent. For our vacations we use a separate app so it doesn’t mess up our usual monthly budget. We have found that by keeping track of our vacation spending, we are better able to budget for our next trip, and we are less inclined to overspend when we tracking our daily spending. Using an app that shows the spending in a pie chart is a great visual aid to help determine where the majority of your money is going, whether in accommodations, food and dining, shopping or whatever it may be. There are a lot of free apps available for budgeting and tracking spending. Try a few out and find the one with a format you like. For our recent vacation we used the app Spender since it was free and simple to use.



FullSizeRenderThere are so many rewards cards and store cards nowadays and most of them I hardly use with the exception of being on vacation (since most of them are not available in Iqaluit). In order to keep things organized and easy to find, I’ve fallen in love with using the stocard app. You simply enter in your rewards cards numbers (manually or by scanning them) and you have all your information available in one easy to access space. It keeps my wallet minimalistic and I never miss out on reward points because I always have my phone with me, thus always having all my cards available.





FullSizeRenderFor some free fun no matter where you are in the world, geocaching is a great way for young and old alike to explore and discover new places and find “treasures”. We love it for filling in time when we don’t have anything scheduled and we want to get outside and go for a walk. Geocaching is like a world wide treasure hunt that you use your phone or gps to help find the hidden caches. Some of them will have fun trinkets and souvenirs and others will just be a place to sign your name and be added to the list of those who found it. In either case, it’s fun for the whole family and it has really helped us to discover beautiful hidden places we would have never found on our own.



We used to use a GPS in our car when we traveled but we have found that the maps app on our phone is even handier and allows us to pack one less thing for our trips. Using your phone or gps can save up to $30 a day on car rental (that’s the average daily charge for a gps in the car) so not only does it save money but it saves headaches as well! Just don’t forget to bring a car charger for your phone if you plan on using it a lot.


Nite Fan – white noise

As fun as exploring new places is…falling asleep in new places can be challenging when there are all sorts of unfamiliar sounds surrounding you. Traffic, sirens, noisy hotel rooms, even bullfrogs, and crickets can make it hard to sleep. We’ve found that having an app with a white noise helps us to sleep no matter where we are. There are many free white noise apps available, we use a variety of ones including from soothing nature sounds to the basic sound of a fan. It sure beats packing our portable fan in our suitcase – again saving us money and space in our luggage for more important things.



Walking Tours

IMG_8984We’ve also discovered some free apps that offer self guided walking tours that can help you learn the history of an area and discover great views to enjoy. Ottawa and Kingston had some great free walking tour apps and I’m sure there are many more so be sure to just type in the city or province you are visiting in the App Store and see what comes up!






These apps have enhanced our vacations and helped us save time, money, and frustration. We love how easy to use they are and how they don’t require any precious luggage space (just some storage space on our phone). Try it out and see how easy it is to save on your next vacation.

What apps do you love for saving money?

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