The Lonely Planet Story
A beat-up old car, a few dollars in the pocket, and a sense of adventure.
That's all Tony and Maureen Wheeler needed for the trip of a lifetime. They met on a park bench in Regent's Park and married a year later. For their honeymoon, they decided to attempt what few people thought possible - crossing Europe and Asia overland, all the way to Australia. It took them several months and all the money they could earn, beg or borrow, but they made it. And at the end of it all, they were flat broke… and couldn't have been happier.
It was too amazing an experience to keep to themselves. Urged on by their friends, they stayed up nights at their kitchen table writing, typing and stapling together their very first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap.
Within a week they'd sold 1500 copies and Lonely Planet was born. Two years later, their second journey led to South-East Asia on a shoestring, which led to books on Nepal, Australia, Africa, and India, which led to… you get the picture.
Fast-forward over 40 years
Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 100 million books. The guides are printed in nine different languages; English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Korean. Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and get to the heart of a place via guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, an award-winning website and magazine, a range of mobile and digital travel products and a dedicated traveller community.
As Lonely Planet became a globally loved brand, Tony and Maureen received several offers for the company. But it wasn’t until 2007 that they found a partner whom they trusted to remain true to Lonely Planet’s principles. In October of that year, BBC Worldwide acquired a 75% share in Lonely Planet, pledging to uphold Lonely Planet’s commitment to independent travel, trustworthy advice and editorial independence. In 2011, BBC Worldwide became sole shareholders of the company.
"At Lonely Planet we like to say that our writers go to the end of the road. And they had damn well better. Because I go to the end of the road." --Tony WheelerBBC Worldwide is the main commercial arm, and a wholly owned subsidiary of, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
Today, Lonely Planet has offices in Melbourne, London and Oakland, with over 450 employees and over 200 authors. In 2012, Lonely Planet also set up its first office in Gurgaon, India, publishing guidebooks for Indian travellers.
Tony and Maureen are still actively involved with Lonely Planet. They continue to travel and devote much of their spare time to charitable projects. And the company is still driven by the philosophy in Across Asia on the Cheap: 'All you've got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!'
Here are some of our travel buyer's favorites from Lonely Planet and on our shelves now: