Lonely Planet

publisher of guidebooks and other media related to travel

Lonely Planet is a huge travel guide book creator.[3] As of 2011, the company had sold 120 million books since creation.[4]

Lonely Planet
Parent companyLonely Planet Global, Inc.
FoundersTony Wheeler
Maureen Wheeler
Country of originAustralia
Headquarters locationFranklin, Tennessee
Key people
  • Luis Cabrera (CEO)
Publication typesBooks
Mobile apps
Nonfiction topicsTravel guides
Owner(s)Red Ventures
No. of employees400 staff, 200 authors[2]
Official websitewww.lonelyplanet.com
Maureen and Tony Wheeler, co-founders of Lonely Planet



Early years


Lonely Planet was created by married couple Maureen and Tony Wheeler. In 1972, they went on a trip through Europe and Asia to Australia.[5][6]

The company name originates from the misheard "lovely planet" in a song written by Matthew Moore.[7]

Tony returned to Asia to write Across Asia on the Cheap: A Complete Guide to Making the Overland Trip, created in 1975.[8]



The Lonely Planet guide book series first expanded in Asia, with the India guide book in 1981,[9] and expanded to rest of the world.[4] Geoff Crowther was noticed for frequently inserting his opinions into the text of the guides he wrote. His writing was helpful to the rise of Lonely Planet. The journalist used the word "Geoffness", in tribute to Crowther, to show a quality that has been lost in travel guides.[10]

By 1999, Lonely Planet had sold 30 million copies of its travel guides. The company's creators consequently benefited from profit-sharing and expensive events were held at the Melbourne office, at which limousines would arrive, filled with Lonely Planet workers.[4]

Wheelers' sale to BBC


In 2007, the Wheelers and John Singleton sold a 75% stake in the company to BBC Worldwide, worth a guess of £63 million at the time.[10] The company was creating 500 titles and went into television production. BBC Worldwide struggled following the loss, registering a £3.2 million loss in the year to the end of March 2009. By the end of March 2010, profits of £1.9 million had been generated, as digital profits had risen 37% year-on-year over the preceding 12 months, a Lonely Planet magazine had grown and non-print profits grew from 9% in 2007 to 22%.

Lonely Planet's digital presence included 140 apps and 8.5 million unique users for lonelyplanet.com, which made the Thorn Tree travel website forum.[11] BBC Worldwide gained the remaining 25% of the company for £42.1 million (A$67.2 million) from the Wheelers.[12]

BBC's sale to NC2


By 2012 BBC wanted to sell itself of the company and in March 2013 confirmed the sale of Lonely Planet to Brad Kelley's NC2 Media for US$77.8 million (£51.5 million), at nearly an £80 million (US$118.89 million) loss.[13]

Lonely Planet's former headquarters in Footscray



In April 2020 Lonely Planet made the decision to close its Australian and London offices and lower staffing levels globally in response to the loss in the travel industry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.[14] The company continued to create its guidebooks, phrasebooks, maps, children's books and inspirational picture tutorials but chose to close its magazine.

Red Ventures


In December 2020, NC2 Media sold Lonely Planet to Red Ventures for an unknown amount.[15] Lonely Planet offices continue to work in Dublin, New Delhi and Beijing.



Lonely Planet's online community, the Thorn Tree,[16] was created in 1996. It is named for a Naivasha thorn tree (Acacia xanthophloea) that has been used as a message board for the city of Nairobi, Kenya since 1902.[17] The tree still exists in the Stanley Hotel, Nairobi. It is used by over 600,000 travelers to share their experiences and look for advice. Thorn Tree has many different forum categories including different countries, places to visit depending on one's interests, travel buddies, and Lonely Planet support.

In 2009, Lonely Planet began creating a monthly travel magazine called Lonely Planet Traveler. It is available in digital versions for a number of countries.[18]

Lonely Planet also had its own television creation company, which has produced series, such as Globe Trekker, Lonely Planet Six Degrees, and Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled.[19] Toby Amies and Asha Gill (both British TV presenters) took part in the Lonely Planet Six degrees.


  1. "Trade". Lonely Planet.
  2. "About Us". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  3. Fildes, Nic (2 October 2007). "BBC gives Lonely Planet guides a home in first major acquisition". The Independent. Archived from the original on 31 January 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Charles Bethea (27 March 2014). "The 25-Year-Old at the Helm of Lonely Planet". Outside Magazine. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  5. "Asia's overland route". LiveJournal. 20 July 2006. Archived from the original on 24 February 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  6. MacLean, Rory (2007). Magic bus: on the hippie trail from Istanbul to India. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-101595-8.
  7. Wheeler, Tony; Wheeler, Maureen (2007). Unlikely Destinations: The Lonely Planet Story. Periplus Editions. ISBN 978-0-7946-0523-0.
  8. Tony Wheeler (1975). Across Asia on the Cheap: A Complete Guide to Making the Overland Trip. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 978-0-9598080-2-5.
  9. Steves, Rick (24 November 2007). "Tony Wheeler's "Lonely Planet"". ricksteves.com. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Carole Cadwalladr (7 October 2007). "Journey's end for the guidebook gurus?". The Observer. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  11. Mark Sweney (18 February 2011). "BBC to buy out Lonely Planet". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  12. "BBC takes last slice of Planet". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 February 2011. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  13. Eric Pfanner (19 March 2013). "U.S. Buyer for BBC's Book Unit on Travel". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  14. Dye, Josh (9 April 2020). "Lonely Planet shuts Australian office, staff laid off due to COVID-19". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  15. "Red Ventures Acquires Lonely Planet". Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  16. "Thorn Tree Travel Forum". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
  17. Mary Fitzpatrick; Tim Bewer; Matthew Firestone (2009). East Africa. Lonely Planet. p. 290. ISBN 978-1-74104-769-1.
  18. Clampet, Jason (3 November 2014). "Skift Forum Video: Lonely Planet's CEO on the Future of Travel Content". skift.com.
  19. "Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled". National Geographic Channel Australia and New Zealand. Archived from the original on 6 November 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2010.