Travel: Asia or bust - by Bentley or bus?

The latest edition of Lonely Planet's guidebook to Thailand has achieved an interesting seal of approval: ask the Thai tourist office in London for information on the Phi Phi islands, and they will hand you a photocopy of the relevant pages.

If sex was invented in the Sixties, the Seventies marked the start of an activity that many people find even more satisfying: independent travel. In an era when the music of choice on board the Magic Bus to Athens was the Woodstock soundtrack, Tony Wheeler set out across Asia on the cheap - and subsequently committed his findings to print.

Twenty-five years ago, the first volume was put together on the kitchen table of this ex-Warwick University student and his wife Maureen. Since then, Lonely Planet has girdled the globe (along with a dozen other travel guide publishers), making its founder a wealthy man. Is he now more Bentley than bus, preferring Hiltons to hostels? I checked his travelling habits.

Q When was the last time you travelled by plane?

A Four days ago, from Madrid to Paris. It was on Air France, whose fares are appalling, but the food is good - far better than Lufthansa.

Q By train?

A Two days ago, on Eurostar from Paris to London. Given the choice, I'd always travel by train city-to-city.

Q Bus?

A In Chile, last year.

Q Ferry?

A In Tahiti a couple of months ago - the 26-minute trip between Tahiti and Moorea.

Q Bicycle?

A At Lonely Planet headquarters in Melbourne, I cycle to work four days a week, then drive my Ferrari on the fifth.

Q When did you last stay in a hotel

A Two nights ago in Paris, at the Hotel St Louis in the Marais.

Q In a B&B?

A Last night, at Mrs Something-or-other's in Knightsbridge.

Q Hostel?

A When I was walking the Pennine Way a year ago.

Q In the past 12 months, what is the most you've paid for a night's accommodation?

A US$500 [about pounds 300] in Bora-Bora, a Society Island.

Q And the least?

A US$4 [about pounds 2.50] in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Q How do you cope with problems such as delays when travelling?

A I try not to sit and fume; I prefer to look for alternatives.

Q In the Seventies, you wrote "If you're ever in Melbourne, Australia just look up Lonely Planet in the phone directory and drop in - or we'll see you on the road". Does that still apply?

A Yes - or call in at one of our offices in Paris, San Francisco or Kentish Town.

If none of these places features in your immediate travel plans, you have a chance to catch up with Lonely Planet's founder in a couple of other exotic destinations: Bromley, or on the Isle of Dogs. Tony Wheeler will be speaking at Ottakar's Bookshop in Bromley next Thursday, 29 January, at 7pm (0181-460 6037). And next Saturday at the Independent Travellers' World event, at the London Arena on the Isle of Dogs, Mr Wheeler will be speaking about his experiences in Antarctica. See the story (left) for details of times and prices.

Simon Calder

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Early Years Teachers Required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Early Years Teachers ...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Qualified Early Years Teachers Required

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualifed Early Years ...

Do you want to work in Education?

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energetic gradu...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment