Holidays can teach us many things - about a destination, about other people, and about ourselves.
My father worked in the travel industry, in hospitality and marketing and travelled a lot to the USA. As a result of his enjoyment, he encouraged me and my three sisters to travel. "The world is your oyster," he would say.
From a young age, I did travel overseas, as we lived in Fiji until I was 9. The school I went to at Nadi Airport was run by the NZ Education Department, so I knew more about New Zealand than Australia. Sometimes I have a slight Kiwi accent. Growing up I was exposed to people from different countries - their food, customs and language and accents, including local Fijians, Polynesians and Indians. I still have respect for people's differences, which I think is the best byproduct of travelling.
When I was competing internationally, I travelled with fellow swimmers and managers to California, Europe and of course Munich, Germany, for the 1972 Olympics. Security was tight in the 1970s too because there was a spate of terrorist plane hijackings, so passengers were patted down in a screened room before boarding. I was 15.
I continue to be an avid traveller, mostly to attend conferences, work or visit family, and have picked up some tips along the way.
1. With security screenings and three-hour check-in times I find it's useless to fight the travel system and get irritated. Give yourself up to the queues, bag screenings and lounge waits. Take a book or do some writing or buy that glossy inspiring home makeover magazine and dream.
2. Don't drink alcohol or sugary soda or fatty foods. Give your metabolism a break. I enjoy lightly sparkling water lately and sushi is my airport transit food choice.
3. I travel with a sturdy backpack for my laptop, iPad, compact camera, change of clothes, glasses in cases and a few toiletries. My check-in bag is a bright-coloured four-wheeled trolley, always under 20kg, room for a gift or souvenir. I always take a swimsuit and goggles and a light, warm, waterproof jacket.
4. I hang a hands-free passport wallet around my neck from check-in time to baggage collection, with a printed itinerary in there too.
5. With jetlag, I try to get into the sun on arrival and walk. If I'm fuzzy with tiredness I'll just sleep whenever possible.
6. I like to go to a botanic garden, a museum or an art gallery or do a cooking class or walking food tour of the city I visit. Otherwise all I see is airports, cafes, hotels and pools.
7. Often I buy food from the local supermarket rather than eating out all the time. It's a significant experience of local life and culture too, again to be made aware of similarities and differences between humans just going about our lives.
• Australian Olympic swimming legend Shane Gould is this year's special guest at Ocean Swim Fiji, a five-day luxury swimming holiday in August. Only 20 spots remain - go to oceanswimfiji.com for more information and to book before July 31.