Lonely Planet Writer

Mapping the world with Lonely Planet Kids


The UK is celebrating National Non-Fiction November and this year it’s zooming in on the world’s greatest maps. So, we thought we’d give you a sneak peek behind the scenes of the Lonely Planet office. Here Lonely Planet cartographer, Wayne Murphy, gives us an insight into the makings of our maps.

‘Cartographers at Lonely Planet are responsible for creating maps for our guidebooks, ebooks and magazines, and we work with editors, writers and graphic designers to make maps that will get you to all the wonderful locations that appear in our products. As a cartographic designer, I help to determine the style for maps in various products; we need to work out the colours, sizes, shapes, text sizes and other details so we can make sure that they are clear and easy to use, and the most important information stands out.

‘This example shows how we style a map to suit a purpose; we have removed all the cities and country borders from a world map from our guide to The World so we can focus on the physical features of the planet.


Lonely Planet’s The World guide.

‘Our Amazing World Atlas is another example of how a map style can be changed to show the most important pieces of information. On this map from our Oceania section, we wanted to show the amazing architecture, animals and geographical features in Australia and New Zealand, so we have used some great illustrations to give a visual idea of what you can find in this part of the world.


Lonely Planet Kids’ Amazing World Atlas.

‘I've always been interested in maps; I remember we had an atlas when I was younger that had a section at the front showing how the borders of countries had changed over time, and this inspired me to make my own series of Europe maps when I was about 13. I still have them and they helped me get my job at Lonely Planet as they showed how keen I was to work with maps from an early age.


A selection of maps designed by Wayne.

I also used to make maps of my parents' farm, and made my own atlas with photocopies of maps from my favourite fantasy and science-fiction books, as well as maps of the lands and countries from stories I'd written.

‘I have worked on a lot of different products in my time at Lonely Planet, and it's always interesting to see how similar ideas are shown in different products. The idea of self-made countries was explored in our Micronations book where I made a lot of maps of not-quite-official countries, and also in our recent You Rule book which helps you set up your very own country!


Lonely Planets’ Micronations.


Lonely Planet Kids’ You Rule.

‘The first product I worked on at Lonely Planet was our Australia Travel Atlas, and I actually started as a map fact checker, helping to make sure the details on the maps were correct – but I taught myself how to use the software we use to make our maps as I wanted to be able to create them myself!


Lonely Planet’s Australia Travel Atlas.

‘An interesting fact about maps is that sometimes cartographers place traps or 'footprints' in their maps to catch others who have copied them. Fake names, odd kinks in rivers, and other map traps are used; if a cartographer sees that fake name or river wobble on someone else's map, they know that the other person copied them! We've used map traps before on some projects; on this map I placed a fake road that was called Av de Legion, which I named after a comic book I was reading at the time!


Wayne's 'map trap.'

‘I think some of the nicest maps I've ever worked were for You Only Live Once, as they show how maps can be artistic rather than just a lot of lines and road labels.



Some maps from Lonely Planet's You Only Live Once.

‘If you're interested in reading about cartography, here are some great books:

- On the Map by Simon Garfield (one of my favourites!)

- Strange Maps by Frank Jacobs

- A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton

- Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations by Vincent Virga.

For younger readers, you could try Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney and Annette Cable, or Follow that Map! by Scot Ritchie.

‘And in case you wonder how old you have to be to be interested in maps, just ask my daughter! She loves cartography already!’


Find out more about the Lonely Planet Kids’ range and National Non-Fiction November.