It pays to comparison shop on the Internet when looking for vacation deals, say travel industry experts.

They should to beware that popular travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity promote what is profitable for them, not necessarily what is the best value for travellers, the university advises in a list of holiday travel tips.

Consumers should dig deeper online, suggesting www.sidestep.com, www.kayak.com, www.travelzoo.com and www.orbitz.com.

Among the other tips on booking holiday travel:

• Plan trips for a week or two before or after the holiday season if possible, avoiding the peak period.

• If you have a destination in mind and your travel dates are not flexible, book early to ensure availability.

• If dates are flexible, you may want to hold out till one or two weeks before your preferred period to see what discounts are available.

• Book travel on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day if possible, when flights and trains will be less busy.

• Leave gifts unwrapped, since they may be opened during security screenings, or consider shipping them ahead of time.

Insurance
• Travel insurance is heavily recommended for those travelling through online services.

• Particularly those who will be booking trips to next year’s World Cup in South Africa are being told to buy insurance to cover theft, loss or destruction of personal property.