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Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  294 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Founders of the phenomenally successful publishing company Lonely Planet, Tony and Maureen Wheeler have produced travel guides to just about every corner of the globe.

Lonely Planet Publications was born in 1973 when the Wheelers self-published a quirky travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap. This was quickly followed by what soon became the backpackers' bible, South-East A
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Periplus Editions (HK) ltd. (first published October 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

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This book was OK, but honestly I was expecting more. The entire book suffered from a lack of detail... the travel writing sections of the book were just lists of places with the (very) occasional funny anecdote, and were a chore to read, particularly the lengthy account of the authors' first overland Asia trip that begins the book. The parts of the book about the growth of Lonely Planet were more interesting, but ultimately not satisfying. These sections suffered from a similar lack of detail, a ...more
Kylie Bevan
As an occasional reader of business success stories, I thoroughly enjoyed Tony's (and occasionally Maureen) honest and insightful observations of their Lonely Planet Journey, from England to Australia in 1972, then almost every country in the world over the next three decades.

As someone who headed off to England for a one-year trip at the age of 17, and possibly 30 countries since, Lonely Planet guidebooks were always always always in my luggage - and one of the hardest things for me to declutt
This is not literary genius. It is, in many places, poorly written... with sudden changes in story line, inconsistencies and repetition. My biggest complaint is that I felt nothing was ever discussed in depth, it was very journal like details of a trip without a lot of storytelling.

But it is really *interesting*. Reading a book like this, about backpackers in the "early days" is, in itself, an incredible read. While I still love my own travel experiences, it was a completely different reality f
Tony and Maureen Wheeler talk about all the places they have visited so far, how they built Lonely Planet as a publishing house, and share their personal views on several topics.

The Wheelers' have travelled so widely that even the names of all the places they have been to can be tough to follow! They understandably have to rush through them. The most interesting part of the travel memoir section is the comparison between how the places were in the 70s/80s and how they are now, something the Whe
This book was written by the founders of Lonely Planet. I am not a Lonely Planet fan by any means. In my whole "anti-popular" phase, which apparently I still have today for some things, if everyone has one thing, then I must, just for my own sanity, head the other direction. And for travel guide books, this is one of them. I have read too much on how Lonely Planet has westernized too much stuff and I am so blah on a lot of that. Not that I am any better. I still use books and my series of choice ...more
Elaine Brown
This is a combination memoir/travel book/business start up story. It is the story of the people who started the Lonely Planet travel guidebooks. I think the authors forgot they shouldn't be writing in a guide book style for this type of book though. I did like reading about how they managed while having no money for years, and how they gradually built up their business.
Travelling Cari
Sep 14, 2007 Travelling Cari added it
Recommends it for: Wendy Allmin
Shelves: travel
I picked this up from the library last Sunday and it was this week's train book. A long-time user of Lonely Planet guidebooks, I enjoyed this look into the history of the country and the people behind it.

I like how they didn't dwell on all the details of their trips, but rather created an overview for the reader to follow. Through it all, both Wheelers remained 'normal people' something that isn't always easy to remember with famous people. The tales of Tony's deaths are amusing, although I'd as
Uma C
I'm a big Lonely Planet guidebook fan. I had read about the founders' story on their website before and when I heard that they were producing a book with more details and about their adventures, I was excited to pick this up. I found this to be an enjoyable read with the story of how they first traveled across countries and how this company came to be. There were a few candid stories about the people that they met along the way, and the crazy adventures they experienced. The only thing I wish th ...more
Joshua Friedman
I wish this book would have focused more on how guidebooks are researched and made (the sort of stuff in the "All About Guidebooks" chapter, rather than stuff I didn't care about like the authors' maiden voyages to Asia and their family life. Still, an interesting read.
Definitely an interesting read. I enjoy travel and am familiar with the Lonely Planet brand so to hear the story of how it began and how it has evolved was fun for me. I do have to say that at times there is a lot of we were here then there then there and it is hard to keep things straight. The maps do help, but for as much as they talk about maps in the book, I would have liked more in this book! There is so much travel that is covered in the story that better images of where they were, the rou ...more
Ashland Mystery Oregon
Travel narratives are among my favorites and so I expected to enjoy Unlikely Destinations. It's Lonely Planet's back story, the story of a generation of travel, of hard work, incredible luck, and good judgement. From its first guidebook in 1973, Lonely Planet grew into a publishing powerhouse, capturing a world market in the genre. Somehow, Lonely Planet and Tony and Maureen Wheeler's writing make the world a smaller, more manageable place by bringing so many unusual places into focus. It's wond ...more
It was very interesting to learn about how a company like Lonely Planet got started and developed over the years. Wheeler writes in a casual style that works well. At times the book devolves into a list of places they visited and doesn't have the interesting travel stories you might wish for. But, it is a book about their company, not their travels and the listing of the itinerary doesn't bog the book down.

I've used Lonely Planet guides for years and it was certainly satisfying to learn that thi
a great story, but i didn't love the way it was times they are rushing through countries and destinations so quickly, you can't keep up, even as a reader. other parts that focus on the business were dry. Overall, I still enjoyed it. One thing that stood out: how much book publishing (and our lives have changed) with the computer/internet age. Imagine cutting and pasting maps and lines of text to create a book! the amount of sweat and effort that went into it was astounding. also, they ...more
This book told a good story of how two hippy travelers turned their passion into a multimillion dollar company. At times it was far too detailed and was a bit boring. At other times it just seemed like a laundry list of places the wheelers have travelled. Still, I like the story of this narrative and found the mix of business, travel, and enterpenuership interesting enough to finish the book.

It should have been shorter and more focused, but still interesting enough to read.
I expected this to be about all the interesting places the Wheelers had travelled to over the last 40 years. It wasn't. I wasn't particularly interested in how one couple took a great idea and created a big company.

Lonely Planet is a big enough name that people (including me) choose a book on the basis of the LP label. Some are great. Some are ok. Some are lousy. I'm glad I borrowed this one from the library.
Grabbed this when I was looking for Eat Pray Love , a book I'm expecting and hoping to hate.

Is Wheeler's narrative of how he and his wife began Lonely Planet.

An interesting story, but reads a bit too much like an itinerary. First we were here, then here, then here...
I realy enjoyed the first half of this book. They tell the story of how the Lonely Planet began and about many of their amazing travels. The second half of the book was more about the business end of everything. It is interesting to see how successful they bacame after being so liberal in their ideas. It really goes to show that doing what you love the most can guide your life.
Jun 01, 2008 Josephine is currently reading it
I love to travel and have done a fair amount of it. But the idea of staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Myrtle Beach holds no interest for me. (And god forbid I go on a cruise.) Travel is about meeting new people and living like the locals. The Lonely Planet guys get that and that's what made me pick up this book. So far it's fascinating.
Jul 29, 2011 Dianne added it
This is the amazing story of an English couple who backpacked to Australia in 1973 and started the Lonely Planet guidebook business. I enjoyed the description of their efforts, successes and failures. It is dated 2005 - I wonder how the recession affected them after that, as the travel industry seems sensitive to economic factors.
In general, the LP is my favorite way to go when visiting a new country, especially as they have good maps and information, and guides for just about anywhere you might find yourself. This book was o.k. and I liked it overall, but was expecting a bit more from the story or better writing or something...
Joey Gan
It is a true account of how one thing leads to another if you let your instinct reigns. And it feels as if you have read the book for the past century when you see the charming duo take aging head on; not even the wrinkles and the extra pounds could stop them from making the best out of life!
a book explaining how Lonely Planet came about, it also inspired me to do likewise. a pity money/time/sheer laziness has stopped me from doing more of what I wanted and planned to do in terms of travelling, but I travelled and revelled vicariously through this book!
Dec 04, 2007 K rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2007
This is titled 'Once While Travelling' in Australia.

Enjoyable read, especially the commentary on the effect of 9/11 on the industry. I would have liked less commentary from Tony Wheeler and more from his wife.
I expected more about the trials and tribulations of travel from the founders of the travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet. This book is more of a biography of the business than a "you are there" travelogue.
If you like to travel and know about The Lonely Planet books, this is the story behind those travel guides. I live to travel, so I liked it of course.
I really liked this book. It was part travelougue and part business book. It was interesting to see how LP started and how it got where it is.
Sara Horton
Enjoyable read. I love the back-story of how businesses get started and the struggles they go through. Also, helps that I enjoy travelling.
An interesting mix of travel and business stories. Some slow parts, but overall, an interesting read!
If you have travel-writing aspirations it is a good story, but rather dryly told.
Fascinating memoir of travel in the 70's and behind the scenes in publishing.
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