By Perri Ormont Blumberg
July 19, 2018
Vacationing in Hammock by Beach
Credit: © Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images

Having spent the better part of the decade travel writing, I can tell you how to squeeze everything into a carry-on, which cities are the best for solo getaways, and what outlet converter to buy for Europe. I can also most definitely tell you that getting to the airport three-and-a-half hours early is better than 30 seconds too late.

If I had a dollar for every time a friend asked me for travel tips, I had have that dream trip to Mykonos covered. While I can't tell you if those wedges and tennis sneakers will be enough to get you through a week in the OBX, I can tell you this: The HotelTonight app will change the way you travel.

The concept behind the platform is simple: Hotels give the mobile-only app their unsold rooms, and the extra-low rates get passed along to customers. The more frequently you use the app to reserve hotel rooms, the sweeter the discounts become (and you can either use them immediately or save your discounts for later use). Previously, you could only make same-day bookings, but now you can make reservations up to 100 days out — though, quite honestly, I think the rush of booking, say, your San Antonio hotel when you're en route from Austin is half the thrill.

While perusing the app, users can choose from a variety of hotel categories: Luxe, Hip, Solid, Basic, Charming, Crashpad and High-Roller. Even cooler? HotelTonight offers something called "Geo Rates," location-based discounts for all bookers surrounding city mainstays like airports, train stations and sports and music venues.

HotelTonight Screenshot
Credit: Courtesy HotelTonight

A representative for the company told Southern Living that you may be surprised to learn that last-minute deals for hotels typically work the opposite of flights: The savings get better as the clock ticks toward the Eleventh Hour. As recently as Fourth of July week, average hotel room rates on the app hovered around at a wallet-friendly $132, and the prices tend to go down 20% the week before booking.

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Need another excuse to download the app? An affordable, spontaneous staycation — tonight — sounds like an excellent idea, if you ask me.

Download the app for Apple devices here and on Google Play here.