Lonely Planet’s Tony Wheeler on Travel with Purpose

Maureen and Tony Wheeler, co-founders of Lonely Planet. (Photo courtesy of subject)

Maureen and Tony Wheeler, co-founders of Lonely Planet. (Photo courtesy of subject)

When Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler crossed over into Malaysia in the early 1970s, his passport was stamped with a unique tag: “SHIT.” It stood for “Suspected Hippie in Transit.”

Wheeler and his wife, Maureen, set off from London, shortly after he finished business school, on a global trip. From London to Afghanistan, they traveled by car, which they sold in Afghanistan for a $5 profit. From there, they hitch-hiked their way to Australia.

“We had 27 cents left. We were a little tight on cash,” jokes Wheeler.

That’s when Maureen and Tony co-wrote their first book: Across Asia on the Cheap. It was a collection of stories, advice, and tips based off their hitchhiking days. Since then, Lonely Planet has sold over 80 million books. It’s the largest travel publisher in the world. Six years ago, the Wheelers sold the company to the BBC for 130 million GBP.

tony wheeler car

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

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