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Four Apps for Making the Most of Your Summer

By Tracey Dowdy

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but it’s been a summer of weird weather in my area. Epic thunderstorms, rain for days on end, and record low temperatures. Then, just last week we had a hail storm in the midst of a heat wave. It’s starting to feel like I’m living in a Stephen King novel.

Though some days feel like summer just started and others like it’s almost over, there’s plenty of summer left. Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of the next few weeks, whether you’re traveling or taking advantage of all there is to do around your hometown:


Available for iOS, Android and through the Spotify app, Songkick tracks the artists in your iTunes and Spotify libraries and lets you know when those artists in are in your area. Should you choose, you have the option of linking your Facebook and Pandora accounts, so it can follow the artists you like there as well. You can generate a calendar that will link to your iCal, Outlook or Google Calendar. so keeping track is easier than you may think.

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

Gate Guru

If you’re traveling, Gate Guru provides real time flight status, gate information, weather at your destination, and even last minute car rentals at discounted rates. Customizable to your itinerary, the app provides accurate maps of concourses and eateries, so even if you’re only in Chicago for a layover you’ll know where to grab that hot dog or slice of pizza before you get back on board. Avoiding airline food has never been easier!

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: Free

Chimani National Parks App

You want your kid’s “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay to reflect well on your parenting skills don’t you? Here’s the answer – the Chimani National Parks App. This app gives a broad range of options from hiking trails to seashores, parks, forests and historical sites – basically everything under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

Alongside its own resources, Chimani provides downloads for individual parks with detailed information ($2 each). It will let you know where to find picnic areas, provide alerts from rangers, maps, and information on accessibility. No matter where you are, there’s bound to be an adventure just around the corner!

Platform: iOS, Android
Cost: Free

Postcard on the Run

When was the last time you got something in the mail that you were actually glad to see and that wasn’t in the recycle bin within 10 minutes of hitting your door? The handwritten letter may be going the way of the dodo, but all is not lost. Postcard on the Run allows you to take a photo with your phone, download it and have it magically transformed into a paper postcard with a personal message mailed through the U.S. postal service.

The app is free, but depending where that postcard is headed, there is a fee. Addresses within the U.S. are $2.49 and those outside are $2.89. If you don’t have the recipients address handy, Postal Gopher will search for it for free. You can even use the “Smell Mail” feature to add a scent to your postcard. (Insert “No postcards from Staten Island” joke here.)

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows
Cost: Free

Make the most of these last hazy, crazy days of summer. In the words of the great philosopher of my generation Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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