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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: MIS Officer - Further Education Sector

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Operating throughout London and...

The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

The Jenrick Group: Project Manager

£35000 per annum + Pension+Bupa: The Jenrick Group: We are recruiting for an e...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?