Born in England, his father worked for the British Overseas Airways Corporation as an airport manager, so he grew up in Pakistan, the Bahamas, Canada, the United States and England, never spending as much as two years in the same school.
After travelling across Europe with Maureen Wheeler, they arrived in Melbourne in 1972 and put out their first book, Across Asia on the Cheap in 1973. This would grow into the Lonely Planet empire, a name derived from a misheard Joe Cocker song (the lyric was, in fact, "Lovely Planet"). They married and had two children, Tashi and Kieran.
His books since Lonely Planet include Bad Lands and Unlikely Destinations.
In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Wheeler and Maureen were both appointed as Officers of the Order of Australia (AO), each for "distinguished service to business and commerce as a publisher of travel guides, and as a benefactor to a range of Australian arts and aid organisations". When interviewed on ABC TV "One Plus One" on 22 Jun 19 Wheeler said he has a home in England and Melbourne.
- "Happy Birthday Tony Wheeler, 65". The Times.
- Friend, Tad (18 April 2005). "The Parachute Artist". The New Yorker.
- "Story". Lonelyplanet.com. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
- Potts, Mary Anne. "Lonely at the Top: Maureen and Tony Wheeler". National Geographic.
- Khoo, Valerie. "Turn Your Business into a Global Empire – Advice from Lonely Planet's Tony Wheeler". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Sweney, Mark (18 February 2011). "BBC to buy out Lonely Planet". The Guardian.
- "The Queen's Birthday 2014 Honours List" (PDF). Gg.gov.au. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.