A surge in online travel searches is expected on ‘Blue Monday’ January 24, dubbed as the most depressing day of 2011.

Flight search engine and destination finder WhichBudget.com expects many people to spend the day looking for an escape from dreary weather, credit card bills and broken new year’s resolutions, resulting in a “significant increase” in the number of searches for flights.

Consumer research by the company found that the most popular time for travellers looking for cheap flights is on Mondays between 11am and 12pm, with almost 10% of all searches taking place during this time.

The top destinations on Blue Monday last year (January 18) were: Lanzarote, Tenerife, Faro, Malaga, Paris, Dublin, Barcelona, Majorca, Gran Canaria and Amsterdam.

Blue Monday was identified by psychologist Cliff Arnall at the University of Cardiff who created a formula comprising seven variables: weather, debt, monthly salary, time since Christmas, time since failed quit attempt, low motivational levels and the need to take action.

WhichBudget founder and chief executive Martino Matijevic said: “WhichBudget data shows that people search for flights during the day while they are at work and the hour just before lunch is the busiest time.

“The majority of people tend to be more productive in the mornings clearing their inboxes and preparing for the day ahead, and when these tasks are finished there is a natural lull in productivity. Our figures show that people are using this break to use the internet and search for flights. 
“Mondays are particularly busy because most people experience that ‘back-to-school’ feeling and searching and booking a flight to visit friends and family, experience a new city or simply to flop on the beach, creates something to look forward to.

“We expect to see an increase in overall searches, particularly to warmer destinations such as Spain and Portugal towards the end of the month with a peak on 24 January.”