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Why we travel

It has long been said that travel “broadens the mind”. Now new evidence proves that jumping on a plane will not only make you smarter, but more open-minded and creative

It’s 4.15 in the morning and my alarm clock has just stolen away a lovely dream. My eyes are open but my pupils are still closed, so all I see is gauzy darkness. For a brief moment, I manage to convince myself that my wakefulness is a mistake, and that I can safely go back to sleep. But then I roll over and see my zippered suitcase. I let out a sleepy groan: I’m going to the airport.

The taxi is late. There should be an adjective (a synonym of sober, only worse) to describe the state of mind that comes from waiting in the orange glare of a streetlight before drinking a cup of coffee. And then the taxi gets lost. And then I get nervous, because my flight leaves in an hour. And then we’re here, and I’m hurtled into the harsh incandescence of Terminal B, running with a suitcase so I can wait in a long security line. My belt buckle sets off the metal detector, my 120ml stick of deodorant is confiscated, and my left sock has a gaping hole.

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Thailand’s last unspoilt islands: Koh Kood

Millions flock to Thailand each year, but you can still find quiet, unspoilt beaches on which to do absolutely nothing, as Laura Barton discovers, while Gemma Bowes finds an island escape in the heart of touristy Phang Nga

It’s not that I don’t like other people – indeed I would go so far as to lay claim to a rich and varied social life. It’s just that, as I have grown older, I have found that I increasingly like spending holidays in a place where I can guarantee that I won’t have to talk to anyone. Not splendid isolation exactly, no far-flung mountain huts or Buddhist retreats, rather something we might class as “minimal interaction”: no small-talk by the pool, late-night karaoke or group safari outings, thank you very much.

For this, I blame the holidays of my childhood: invariably two weeks in a remote cottage in Anglesey. There were long walks, damsons to pick, fields of cows and sheep to admire and occasional trips to the beach but, crucially, also plenty of time to read, eat, sleep and row about in the creek at the bottom of the garden. I would holiday there still, were it not for the flat grey skies and the viciously cold Irish Sea. For the past few years I have been trying to find somewhere that, while warmer than north Wales in August, is still just as quiet and still and lovely.

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