In 1972, newlyweds Tony and Maureen Wheeler set off on a journey from London across Asia. When they returned, friends asked them for information about the area. Now--18 years and 100 guidebooks later--the Wheelers' company is considered a world leader in publishing advice for young, independent travelers.
What readers of the Lonely Planet series find most valuable is that the books not only provide detailed cultural background information on where to stay and how to get around in various countries, they also provide travelers with assurances that, yes, they, too, can do it.
It's also reassuring that in 18 years of researching this style of travel, neither Tony nor Maureen has ever been seriously ill or robbed in a confrontational manner. "Every time we have had something stolen, we can put it down to being careless," Tony said.
The Australian-based company has listened to a wide range of sad traveler tales from its readers.
Some of the more prevalent problems faced recently by novice independent travelers:
--In Malaysia, travelers have been taken in by airline ticket scams.
--In Singapore, travelers have reported that they were approached in bars or hotels and told that another person is being set up. They are persuaded to play a roll in a complicated card game. They win a little, sign over their traveler's checks in belief that they are set to win a huge amount, and find themselves quickly parted from their funds.