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Our editorial independence
At Lonely Planet we tell it like it is, without fear or favour. There's a whole world of amazing sights, hotels, travel companies and gear manufacturers out there - and we want to tell you which ones we think are best. But we never compromise our opinions for commercial gain. If you read something written by a Lonely Planet author, you can guarantee they've been there, had a look for themselves and are telling you what they really think. It's trusted advice from a trusted source.
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 120 million books in eleven different languages. Along with guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, Lonely Planet also produces a range of gift and reference titles, an award-winning website and magazine and a range of digital travel products and apps.
In 2013 Nashville-based media company, NC2 Media, acquired Lonely Planet from BBC Worldwide. BBC Worldwide had first acquired a share in the company in 2007 before becoming sole owners in 2011.
Today, Lonely Planet has offices in the Australia, UK, USA, India and China with over 400 employees and 200 authors.
Lonely Planet is still driven by the philosophy defined in Across Asia on the Cheap: 'All you've got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!'
Maureen was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At age 20 she moved to London, where she met Tony Wheeler. While they were establishing Lonely Planet, Maureen completed a degree in social work, but then committed herself full-time to developing the business. Their children, Tashi and Kieran, have often accompanied Maureen and Tony on their frequent travels.
Travelling with children became a way of life for Maureen after the births of Tashi and Kieran, and they considerably enlivened her journeys. This prompted Maureen to write a guidebook about it: Travel With Children is the result of years of experience on the road with the kids.
Maureen was responsible for organising the very successful Lonely Planet travel summits held in 1994 (to celebrate the company’s 21st birthday) and again in November 1997.
Maureen has been the driving force behind Lonely Planet’s corporate contributions program established to provide financial assistance for humanitarian projects in developing countries.
The Planet Wheeler Foundation, formerly The Lonely Planet Foundation, supports educational and health projects in the developing world. It is funded solely by the Wheelers.
Maureen served two terms as director on the board of Tourism Tasmania, and one term on each of the boards of Tourism NT and Opera Melbourne.
Maureen has also played a pivotal role in bringing Wagner’s Ring Cycle to Melbourne.
Maureen has won a number of awards for her achievements, including the Inspiring Business Woman of Australia Award in 1999. In 2001, Maureen was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Ulster.
Tony Wheeler’s arrival on our lonely planet was as part of England’s post-war baby boom, but he soon departed and grew up in Pakistan, followed by a spell in the Caribbean and all of his high school years in the USA. He returned to England to finish school, do an engineering degree at Warwick University, work for a couple of years as an automotive engineer, then return to university to do an MBA at London Business School.
Just days after graduating in 1972, Tony and his wife Maureen set off on the Asia overland trip, from London to Australia. Their intention was to be away for a year, get travel out of their system, and then settle down. They drove from London to Afghanistan in a beat up minivan and eventually arrived in Sydney, Australia, with 27 cents between them. By this time the intention to get back to London after a year had been comprehensively jettisoned and the continual questioning from people they met – How did you travel? What did you see? What did it cost? – inspired them to turn their diaries into the first Lonely Planet book.
Tony worked on numerous Lonely Planet titles including the award- winning India guide and the best selling Australia guide. He also worked with travel photographers on pictorial essays like Chasing Rickshaws and Rice Trails. A journey around the three countries on the ‘Axis of Evil’ along with six other troubled states led to his book Bad Lands and with Maureen, the Lonely Planet story was told in Once While Travelling.
Tony continues to write and contribute to Lonely Planet books, including Tony Wheeler’s Dark Lands, which was published in September 2013.
Lonely Planet is renowned for its first-hand approach, up-to-date maps and commitment to providing the best information for travellers.
Accurate, practical information
Lonely Planet authors are experienced, insightful travel experts. They personally research the places they write about - both in the first and in subsequent editions - and provide essential travel details along with a wealth of insider information and first-hand tips. For more information about how we research our guides, check out the How to make a guidebook page.
Lonely Planet guidebooks contain no advertising. Lonely Planet authors are not allowed to accept free accommodation or meals in exchange for favourable write-ups, so their recommendations are honest and objective.
Lonely Planet recommends a wide range of options so that travellers can get the most out of their time and money, whether they're travelling on a shoestring or an expense account.
Lonely Planet maps are researched on the road by the authors - often in areas for which no other maps exist. Then Lonely Planet's cartographers use state-of-the-art technology to create detailed, easy-to-read maps. Lonely Planet guides contain more maps than any other guidebooks.
Lonely Planet books contain keywords, basic grammar and phrases in local languages. When necessary, guidebooks include the names of places, restaurants and hotels in local script.
Health and safety advice
Lonely Planet offers accurate, practical advice for travelling safely in all destinations. We also provide valuable tips for staying healthy and essential information on what to do in an emergency.
Lonely Planet believes that the more travellers know about the people and places they're visiting, the more they'll enjoy their trip and the less negative impact their presence will have. To this end, the guidebooks offer information on customs, etiquette, history, religion, art and politics.
Lonely Planet guidebooks are built for the road, with laminated covers and spine-stitched bindings that won't fall apart with heavy use or inclement conditions.
All Lonely Planet books provide context and advice on travelling sustainably and responsibly. Lonely Planet works hard to reduce waste in the production and distribution of our books: the paper in our guides is certified against the Forest Stewardship Council standards, we use forecasting models to ensure we print the right quantities of our books and we require suppliers to adhere to local and international labour standards.
I worked at Lonely Planet full-time (More than a year)
You get to talk about travel on most days
Leadership is a revolving door; office culture is pretty sad; rather than fill positions, the company is more concerned with saving money and squeezing out energy from existing employees until they quit. I wouldn't be surprised if they go under in the next year or two.
Advice to Management
Employ an appropriate amount of people; focus on talent retention; accept that you need to spend money to make money and communicate a brand direction to the people doing the actual work so that there is something to mentally invest in.
Let us know if we're missing any workplace or industry recognition –