Is Black Friday the Best Time to Book a Holiday?

Are Black Friday deals really all that they seem?

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As you may or may not know, Black Friday is a huge retail sales event that originated in America. It falls on the day after Thanksgiving, and largely signifies the start of the Christmas shopping season. From discounted clothing and tech goodies to homeware products and even holidays, consumers have a variety of online and in-store options.

As a seasonal event in the UK, it has steadily grown in popularity over the last 10 years. In fact, Statista predicts that Brits will spend a whopping £8.71 billion over the coming Black Friday weekend.

It’s clearly a popular event. But with a cost-of-living crisis currently gripping the UK, it remains to be seen whether this figure will actually be met. Being frugal is naturally going to become more of a consideration for millions of people, and that’s why knowing what deal makes a good deal is so important. After all, some really are too good to be true.

A prime example of an industry to treat with caution in this regard is travel. The holiday market has well and truly re-opened post-pandemic, and according to the Independent, the number of Brits travelling abroad from September 2021 to August 2022 was almost three times higher than in the 12 months prior (although this was still 30% down on pre-pandemic figures). It stands to reason that the demand for discounted holiday deals will increase, and this highlights the need for shoppers to remain savvy about what they’re looking at and to question whether or not it actually represents a good saving.

Are genuine Black Friday holiday deals out there?

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In a nutshell, yes - there are deals out there that will represent real value. But it’s important to ask what ‘value’ means for you as an individual.

Indeed, if you measure value by the size of a percentage markdown (as most of us do when buying something) then it’s likely you will find something that takes your fancy. But even in this instance, it’s crucial to understand that not all holiday deals are what they seem. Hidden costs and lack of financial (ATOL) protection could always be lurking below the surface. 

Mark Budge, Head of ATOL at the UK Civil Aviation Authority has said that “Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales may seem like the perfect opportunity to get your next holiday sorted, but before booking what looks like a bargain, check the details first.” He also advises to “check for ATOL protection, look for hidden costs, book by credit card where possible and take out travel insurance.” Doing your research is clearly key to ensuring you’re finding the right deal for you, and for many, this will be common practice. However, it’s not always easy to avoid the enticing advertisements on the majority of holiday providers’ websites. Thankfully, there are certain things you can look out for which will indicate whether you’re getting a first-class deal.

What to look out for - is the cheapest always best?

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Is the cheapest always the best? Now, there’s a question. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ can sometimes be applied to booking a bargain holiday but, as mentioned above, if you can ensure a few things are included in the price then you might just be on to a winner.

Looking beyond the headline price is crucial. Be sure to check for add-ons like baggage allowance, as this can quickly increase the overall price. Checking that your booking is flexible, too, is an important factor as any alterations to your trip may incur extra charges. We’d also advise double-checking the COVID restrictions in your chosen destination.

Ensuring your holiday provider has ATOL protection is also massively important. UK-based providers need to hold this license (which ensures customers won’t lose money should the company they book with go bust), but if you’re booking with a non-UK travel company this is not a legal requirement. Always double-check the financial protection that you will receive directly with the agent before finalising your booking.

Booking using a credit card is an excellent way to protect yourself too, as is taking out travel insurance to help avoid unforeseen costs should anything go wrong.

Are there any other low-price booking windows that might be better?

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There are certainly alternatives. As soon as Black Friday ends, Cyber Monday begins and this presents the next immediate money-saving sales event to look out for. Traditionally, this event covers online purchases only, and the travel industry tends to run promotions similar to that of their Black Friday offerings during this time.

The January sales offer another window to get your dream holiday for the ideal price. Although, again, it’s worth treating any immediate deals with caution. In fact, according to Which.co.uk, “investigations show that travel deals, whenever in the year they are advertised, only offer the lowest price around 50% of the time. So don't be pressured into booking a holiday this January by promotional sales language and advertising promises.”

It’s solid advice - it’s not to say that deals aren’t available (because they are) - but shoppers should be careful before committing to a holiday and finalising payment. Being happy with what you’re booking and how much you’re paying is ultimately the end goal here.

Our top pick of retailers to check in with over Black Friday

Jack Cunningham
Travel Editor

As a former sports journalist and content creator, I swapped the press box for a permanent desk several years ago. Since giving match reports the red card, I have enjoyed developing my writing and research skills in a few other areas, and now I spend my time doing something I really enjoy - sharing the best ways to save on travel with our wonderful readers.


I love nothing more than exploring different parts of the world and learning about new cultures (and taking in the occasional sporting fixture, if at all possible). I’m just as happy on a quick city break in Lisbon as I am navigating my way across the width of America, and firmly believe everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy travelling regardless of their budget.