Lonely Planet ThornTree

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What is Lonely Planet ThornTree?

Lonely Planet was initially founded by a married couple with a mutual love for travel. Maureen and Tony Wheeler created their business after embarking on an overland trip to Australia through Europe and Asia by way of the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition route.

The Wheelers reportedly named their company after mishearing the lyric of a Matthew Moore song, which was, in fact, “lovely planet.” The duo’s first book was called Across Asia on the Cheap. It had a total of 94 pages and was written by the couple at home. Their DIY ethos could also be seen in the fact that the original copies of this first book were sold as stapled-together booklets. The sequel to Lonely Planet’s first travel guide was published in 1975 after Tony returned to Asia alone to write Across Asia On the Cheap: A Complete Guide to Making the Overland Trip.

 Although the expansion was slow-moving at first, it did eventually occur. In 1981, Lonely Planet began expanding throughout Asia, publishing a guidebook about travel through India. From there, Lonely Planet gradually expanded further to include all of the worlds. One of the crucial additions to the company came in the form of a personable writer named Geoff Crowther. He became known for inserting his own opinions into the texts of the travel guides that he wrote.

Crowther’s witty, humorous, and insightful comments being woven into Lonely Planet’s travel guides became critical to the company’s success. In fact, Crowther’s name has become somewhat synonymous with quality travel guide writing. Critics have even coined the term “Geoffiness,” as a tribute to Crowther, in order to describe an element of travel guide writing that has been lost over the years.

However, it would not be accurate to say that all of Lonely Planet’s success could be attributed to Crowther. Regardless of which staff writer was assigned a given travel guide, Lonely Planet seemed to sell. By the time 1999 had rolled around, in fact, Lonely Planet had sold over 30 million copies of its various travel guides. At the height of the company’s popularity, Lonely Planet authors were living the high life – enjoying profit sharing and ritzy company events held at the Melbourne office, to which Lonely Planet contributors arrived in fleets of limousines.

The party, however, had to end eventually. For the Wheelers, along with majority shareholder John Singleton, that came in 2007. Collectively, the trio sold their 75% stake in Lonely Planet to BBC Worldwide – a sale that was worth an approximated £63 million. At this point, Lonely Planet had 500 travel guides in circulation and began venturing into television series.

BBC Worldwide, for whatever reason, had a hard time navigating what to do with Lonely Planet; they registered £3.2 million in losses between 2007 and 2009, upon which they were able to turn things around and begin profiting off of the Lonely Planet franchise. A Lonely Planet magazine had grown in popularity, and non-print profits skyrocketed from 7% to 22%.

From there, too, BBC had begun to increase Lonely Planet’s digital presence. By the end of the 2000s, Lonely Planet had its imprint on 140 apps, as well as 8.4 million unique users regularly visiting Lonelyplanet.com, which has hosted Thorn Tree since 1996. Once BBC Worldwide was able to effectively wield their Lonely Planet acquisition, they acquired the remaining 25% of stake in the company from the Wheelers, totaling £42.1 million.

By 2012, BBC decided that it was ready to divest itself of Lonely Planet. In March of 2013, they confirmed their sale of this asset to NC2 (Brad Kelley’s media company) for USD $77.8 million, resulting in nearly USD $119 million worth of losses.

When COVID-19 began tragically affecting the whole world in 2020, many companies within the travel sector felt the hit. Lonely Planet was one of them. In April of 2020, Lonely Planet announced that it would be closing its Australian and London headquarters and reducing staffing. Although the company still publishes its guidebooks, maps, phrasebooks, children’s books, and pictorials, it has decided to cease production on its magazine. Thorn Tree, too, has become a read-only forum since the pandemic hit (no new posts allowed for the time being).

Nevertheless, even though Thorn Tree is not currently accepting new posts, it is still one of the richest resources for travel info and insider, experience-based knowledge on travel to just about anywhere in the world.

 Is Lonely Planet ThornTree useful as a travel forum?

 Thorn Tree has a fairly standard forum design. As a rule, forums are not typically aesthetically dazzling. They are usually more practical than they are stunning to look at. That being said, Thorn Tree does offer a user-friendly and intuitive web experience. This is, in part, due to the site’s stripped-down layout. A minimalistic approach means that the site becomes easier to navigate. Everything is clearly separated, organized, and labeled for ease of use.

Furthermore, the travel forum comes complete with nods in the right direction and helpful instructions that can guide newcomers through just how to use this travel forum to the best results – particularly during this time in which the site is limited. Typically, the travel forum is broken up into 4 categories: All Forums, Country, Interest, General Chat, and Talk to Lonely Planet (for web help and suggestions). Browsing by interest (say, cycling or hiking, for instance) can be a great way to find travel buddies who may want to link up for a day (or more) to accompany you on your travels. Whatever you’re looking for, this travel forum is as simple and intuitive to browse as it should be.

Your best bet, however, for finding exactly what you are looking for on this travel forum is to conduct a search. Thorn Tree, as is expected, has your usual search bar where you can plug in keywords like, as per the site’s examples, “Japan, Trekking, or Australian Tourist Visa.” One of the great elements of Thorn Tree’s design, though, comes in the form of its advanced search engine (something that a lot of travel forums tend to be missing). Here, you can filter travel forum posts by several combined keywords, username, post type, date, number of replies, and even sub-forum.

Or you can always browse this travel forum the old-fashioned way. The site can be browsed by recent topics, hot topics, highlighted, trending, active, and unanswered. Sure, it may be a little while before Thorn Tree is live again and has any trending or active posts, but I have faith that the travel world will be back to a state of semi-normalcy within a year or so. Thus, so will Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, one of the best travel forums that the internet has ever seen.

What are the best features of the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree travel forum?

Literally, anything and everything pertaining to travel can and has been discussed here on Thorn Tree. During normal operation, there are thousands of people creating posts and commenting on Thorn Tree on a daily basis. Whether you are looking to read through the thoughts and advice of others regarding a specific trip that you are planning to take in the future and you want to get a better idea of what to expect, or you are looking for a step-by-step guide on how to secure something as specific and secure as the travel visa acquisition process in Malta (or anywhere else), Thorn Tree is probably one of the best resources available.

As a Thorn Tree user, you can make posts, comment on posts, read posts, and search them. Users are also able to create their own user profiles, upload avatars, and direct message one another. Personally, Thorn Tree is the first travel forum that I visit when I am looking to learn more about a potential travel destination – especially if my trip is going to be a little off the typical ‘beaten path,’ as they say. Thorn Tree is perfect for nontraditional trips, more immersive travel, adventure travelers, or alternative, cheap travel ideas.

 

Does Lonely Planet ThornTree travel forum have a mobile-friendly website?

 Although there is no specific Thorn Tree mobile app, I would like to take a moment to mention how incredible the Lonely Planet app is, in general. It is an incredibly useful travel companion, offering access to all of Lonely Planet’s travel guides, language phrasebooks, Lonely Planet TV access, even offline availability (which, as we all know, can be clutch while traveling), an augmented reality currency converter, and virtual tours.

As far as accessing the Thorn Tree travel forum, however, you should have no issue doing so on either your mobile or desktop device. The mobile site, when accessed via your preferred web browser, is perfectly optimized and provides a smooth and easy-to-use mobile travel forum experience.

 

What I Like about the Lonely Planet ThornTree travel forum

 -Huge and extremely active travel forum

-Archived posts date back to 1996

-Well-designed and easy to use

-Great way to meet travel buddies socialize

 

What I Dislike about Lonely Planet ThornTree travel forum

 -No new posts allowed during COVID-19 pandemic

-No dedicated travel forum app

 

Pros
  • Huge and extremely active travel forum
  • Archived posts date back to 1996
  • Well-designed and easy to use
  • Great way to meet travel buddies socialize
Cons
  • No new posts allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • No dedicated travel forum app