From the editor: Meeting relatives is a pain, no?

Bangkok, Kanha, South Africa

Sure, cousins tend to be all right (other than the ones who once went on holiday and returned with a horrible accent), but the ones that really make my teeth ache are the ancient uncles and aunts who are normally kept in cold storage and only brought out to comment on your lack of education, and that the solution to the problem of being you is to get you married off. The urge to say, “Well, marriage clearly didn’t work for you,” is strong. Or, sotto voce, “I get married every night, heh heh,” just to see their heads explode.

It’s easier to meet relatives when they’re actually fossilised, and not merely appearing to be so. I’m talking, of course, of the Australopithecus africanus fossils found in South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind, which are pretty damn cool. Apart from the fact that these, some of the oldest hominin fossils ever found, are a great reminder of how recent modern humans are, the fossils can’t exactly complain about your lack of education. (Although, if you insult them, they might spear you). And that’s just one of the cool things we have in the Last-minute Summer Getaways issue (and thankfully, no aunts).

We have a journey through South Africa, taking in Johannesburg, the beautiful Drakensberg mountains and Kruger, followed by a large menu of getaway hotels and homestays in India’s hills, and Bangkok, which has so many hidden, fun things to do that we had to split it four ways: things to do if you’re travelling as a couple, with a family, with the girls, or a team of boys. And, trust me, all these are easy to do at the last minute, with very little planning.

And, in case you do want something less simple and rather epic to do, we have the other Trans-Siberian railway, called the BAM, which goes through Soviet-era ghost towns and gorgeous, vast landscapes on a journey you won’t stop telling people about.

The other advantage of the BAM, of course, is that Siberia is a really, really vast place in which to abandon relatives. It even has meteorite strikes, if you’re very desperate.