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Amazing Vagabond – Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet FounderIf you haven’t heard of Lonely Planet, you’ve never taken a trip. Tony and Maureen Wheeler were the founders of this global travel empire which is now owned by the BBC. The story of Lonely Planet is the story a story which has inspired travel writers for a generation.

Tony Wheeler is an Amazing Vagabond.

Born in Britain but raised in Karachi, Pakistan, the West Indies (Bahamas) , and the United States. He studied to be a car designer but was sidetracked by  a trip to India with his wife Maureen in the early 1972. The two of them were entranced by the ‘hippie trail’ and the next year founded Lonely Planet in Australia where they had traveled overland from Britain.

They drove from London to Afghanistan in a beat up minivan and eventually arrived in Sydney, Australia, with 27 cents between them.

The two wrote a book Across Asia on the Cheap. The book was an immediate success and even though there was no internet, they established themselves as the first budget travel bloggers (even with no blogs in the world).  The next year, the couple wrote Southeast Asia on  a Shoestring and they were off…The book is still in print and has sold more than a million copies. Enough to found an empire.

For many, that would have been enough, but the couple went on to publish the Lonely Planet India Guide in 1981. That book opened the door to even more.

Tony and Maureen sold Lonely Planet to the BBC several years ago but they are both still traveling and active. You can follow Tony’s blog at here

Lonely Planet sells six million books each year, 90 per cent overseas. Lonely Planet has printed more than 54 million copies of its 600 guides in 17 languages and has $85 million annual turnover.

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Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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