Which was your best holiday?
One of my favourite holidays was a trip to London and Paris in 2009. My wife Jess and I lived in London for six years until the start of 2008, moving back to Sydney to raise our little family. In 2009 we went back to London to catch up with friends and family and took our girls with us - they were three and 18 months old. It was our first real family holiday and we rented a two-bedroom flat in Chelsea and did all the touristy things all over again. Jess and I had spent a lot of time in Paris also but it took on a whole new perspective through the eyes of a child - the girls pointed out things that we were so immune to because we had visited the city so regularly.
And the best hotel you've stayed in?
Has to be the Four Seasons Whistler. Aside from it being on the doorstep of one of the greatest ski resorts, the accommodation there is second to none. The rooms are so cosy, beautifully natural and they're huge. However, it's the service that sets this hotel apart - from toasting marshmallows by the fire in the snow-filled courtyard to relaxing in the unbelievable spa, and my favourite - the ski concierge! When you ski off the mountain the hotel staff are waiting to take your skis and have a delicious hot chocolate and cookie on hand to warm you up ... it's all about the small things.
What do you need for a perfect holiday?
I believe the best ingredient for a perfect holiday is good service. No matter where you go, if the people at the hotel and out and about are helpful and happy, it makes things a lot more pleasurable.
What do you always take with you?
I have a couple of little tricks to make travel a bit easier. If I'm on a long-haul flight I don't fly without compression tights. Most of us realise the benefits they provide in preventing DVT, but the pressure they provide around the muscles helps to absorb water, helps avoid dehydration, too. I always pack a punnet or two of blueberries in my carry-on. They're great for a natural vitamin boost, an awesome anti-oxidant to help flush out any nasties from the plane and they are also good for hydration! I always pack my runners - a morning run is a great way to soak up the area you're staying in. Lastly, I can't live without my iPad these days - catching up with news from home and FaceTime is a great way to stay in touch with the kids ... I always use the hotel wi-fi as international data charges can be insane.
What's your best piece of travel advice?
On the plane, long-haul, sleep when you get the chance. Trying to adjust to the time difference on board rarely pays off. If you try and keep yourself awake, often you can't sleep when you need to and you'll end up getting no rest at all. With this in mind, when you arrive, hit the ground running for the first 48 hours - keep busy, exercise and try not to sleep outside of bedtime. Even if you are having a relaxing holiday, this will get your body clock into a good rhythm, even if you are just lying by the pool!
Where do you want to go next?
Luckily, I'm back in London for the Olympic Games. I've visited a number of times over the past year and each time the vibe was building - Games time will be an epic atmosphere and a celebration not to be missed. LOCOG, the Games organiser, believes the success of the event will be determined by the experience of the athletes, spectators and visitors to the city, so I'm expecting London to be unlike I've ever seen it before. Bring it on.
Which was your worst holiday?
I haven't really had a bad holiday, but I have had many bad experiences. I've lost luggage and never got it back a couple of times, missed flights, had our hire car stolen outside our hotel in South Africa, numerous flat tyres on questionable streets around the world and we were rained out for five days straight on Brampton Island. I also had a sleepless night in Ubud in the mountains of central Bali once because the giant geckos were getting a little close for comfort. Those things are scary.
Which is the worst hotel you've stayed in?
I stayed in a hotel in a little Swiss town called Bellinzona on the northern Italian boarder in the Alps. It was summer and I was put in the smallest corner room, which was without doubt a former broom cupboard. It would have been fine if it wasn't 40 degrees with no airconditioning. Somehow they managed to squeeze a shower in the room, which was directly next to the bed. I left the shower running cold water overnight, not great for water conservation, but the spray from the splashing water kept me cool in bed!
What do you avoid on holiday?
I make a point of avoiding the tourist trails and instead prefer to experience local life. Rome and its attractions is a must-see but one of my best memories of Rome is sitting in a small piazza packed with locals on the outskirts of the city with a freshly made pizza and red wine soaking up the atmosphere.
What do you hate about holidays?
I travel so often, sometimes the idea of packing a bag and getting on a plane is the last thing I want to do. We are so blessed in Sydney with all this great city has to offer. Some of my best breaks have been at home.
Former Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington will be hosting Foxtel's coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games through until August 13.
As told to Angie Kelly.