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Published:August 6th, 2007 10:44 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Tony and Maureen Wheeler,  Authors of Unlikely Destinations

Judyth Piazza chats with Tony and Maureen Wheeler, Authors of Unlikely Destinations

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

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 30 years.

Today the company has offices in Melbourne, Oakland and London, with over 500 office employees and 300+ on-the-road authors.

Tony and Maureen are still actively involved with Lonely Planet as directors of the company. When they`re not travelling, they`re in the office. Tony continues to write guidebooks (though these days he gets to handpick the destinations he authors) and Maureen works with the Lonely Planet Foundation.

From the very beginning, Tony and Maureen promoted travel as a possibility for everyone, not just the adventurous. The introduction of Across Asia on the Cheap concludes: "All you`ve got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!`

In 2005 Tony and Maureen Wheeler were awarded the inaugural Eric A Friedheim Travel Journalism Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation (SATW) and American University`s School of Communication (SOC).

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