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Rule No.2: Learn all names on day one.


Rule No.3: Don’t get lost.


Rule No.5: Crew must not engage in sexual activity on board the bus with passengers

But then rules were made to be broken, right?


Brian confesses all as he reveals the best (and worst) of 20 trips as a tour leader around Europe. How he managed to feed a bus load of tourists horse meat spaghetti bolognese, hamburgers made from breakfast cereal, and roosters’ testicles; how he left a lone passenger stranded by the side of a motorway in France for three hours in nothing but his underwear clutching only a purple toothbrush; and how, along the way, he managed to lose his driver, his cook, 10 brightly coloured canal bikes, a large church, his bus and eventually his patience.


‘Thacker takes readers along for a jolly ride’

USA Today


‘Hilarious observations about European travel’

Travel and Leisure (USA)


‘This is the most hilarious book I have ever read.’

The West Australian


‘At times I laughed so hard the tears were flowing down my face’

Gold Coast Bulletin


‘This book is laugh out loud hilarious’

Vacations & Travel


‘So ridiculous I kept wondering why I continued reading (answer: it’s very funny)’

The Sydney Morning Herald


‘Goddamn this book is funny.”

Entropy Magazine




Whether you’re an explorer or a tourist, the journey often proves to be more exciting than the place you arrive at.

Not to mention more alarming, entertaining, spectacular, dangerous or farcical. All of which is pretty closely connected with the mode of transport you’re dependent on – from stubborn mule to ancient plane.

Brian Thacker has been on the look-out for unusual vehicles ever since he travelled down the Ovens River in the Victorian Alps on a rubber inner tube when he was nine years old. Here he writes about his most memorable journeys, including his trip on the Trans Siberian Express, his pub crawl on the London tube, his journey down the east coast of Australia in a truck and a camel safari with a particularly grumpy camel.


‘True to life, irreverent and very funny.’

Courier Mail


‘Thacker’s exploits will have you chuckling out loud.’

Vacations & Travel


‘This hilarious and engaging book is the perfect companion on any bus ride, exotic cruise, elephant trek…’

TNT Magazine


‘Describing his journeys with wit, persistence and good humour Thacker takes over where Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson leave off.’

BAY FM (Queensland)


‘Some travel books promoted as a funny read in fact barely raise a chuckle. This is one of the few that that lives up to its promise.’

Backpacker Magazine




‘It was only a degree above zero and the rain was coming down in sheets, yet here I was about to run around in nothing more than a nappy. I was pretty sure it was going to be the silliest thing I’d ever done… ‘


Join Brian Thacker as he embarks on a round-the-world odyssey in search of as many silly, outlandish and even staggeringly banal festivals as time, distance and severe bouts of exposure will allow. Along the way he is pelted with beans, overawed by giant snow cows and stampeded in a temple full of men wearing nappies in hot pursuit of a stick. And that’s just in Japan.

Brian also manages to narrowly escape being sacrificed by a Vodou priest in Haiti and to retain his eyebrows after celebrating Hogmanay in Scotland. He discovers 101 new and interesting things to do with a tomato; meets a woman at the UFO Festival in Roswell who is regularly used by aliens for perverted medical experiments and hangs out at the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras with a bloke called Miss Stephanie.


‘The result is an entertaining – and at times laugh-out-loud funny – sampling of festivals from around the world’

New Zealand Herald


‘Another great book from one of Australia’s best offbeat travel writers.’

Backpacker Magazine


‘Laughing out loud goes hand in hand with reading this book. Thacker manages to combine humour and the joys of travel superbly.’

Vacations and Travel Magazine


‘Thacker shares his humorous insights with a good blend of genuine information and healthy imagination.’


‘This book about going to foreign places and being very silly is great fun.’

The Sunday Age



Brian Thacker knew very little about his dad’s life. He knew he was born in Royal Leamington Spa in 1931 and that he was one of eight children. He knew that he spent time in a children’s home when his mum died and that he served in the Royal Navy as a cook. He met Brian’s mum at a dance hall in Birmingham and emigrated to Australia with four kids in tow in 1967. But that was pretty much it.


In a fearsomely foolish display of pro-activity Brian Thacker decided that the only way to finally uncover the truth about his dad’s mysterious early life was to drag 73-year-old Harry Thacker off the couch and half way across the planet – to England, Gibraltar, Malta, Sri Lanka and Singapore – in an attempt to retrace his Dad’s history.


Along the way Brian hoped to finally figure out just how Harry lost those two fingers on his right hand, not to mention where he picked up such an inexhaustible supply of truly awful jokes. Which is all fine with Harry, just so long as Brian was paying and Harry didn’t have to ‘eat any of that bloody foreign muck.’


‘In hilarious prose, Thacker describes the endless, leaden roast beef and Yorkshire pudding dinners his English relatives load on him.’
Sydney Morning Herald


‘An amusing portrait of a prickly but affectionate father-son relationship’

American Library Association


‘It’s the humour in difficult times that makes this book so enjoyable.’

The Daily Telegraph

'A touching and funny account that is both an entertaining travel story and the story of a father-son relationship.'
TNT Magazine





Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, Michael Palin all have ventured forth to provide vivid and compelling accounts of exotic peoples and strange lands. But none has ever been daring (or perhaps stupid) enough to arrive in a country not knowing a single thing about the place. Until now.

In the spirit of Stanley and Livingstone, Brian Thacker set out for far-flung lands armed with nothing more than an air ticket and an armful of immunisation shots. He didn’t know the local language, the currency or even the climate of the various places he was heading for; not to mention their political, religious or cultural situations. He didn’t take a guidebook; he didn’t even do a quick web search. And so it was that Brian found himself on an incredible journey that would see him set up home inside Gabon airport; dodge civil unrest in Togo; receive a history lesson from a Ghanaian prostitute; anger the Vodou gods of Cotonou; gatecrash the King of Futuna’s party; become lost in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan; and narrowly avoid being shot in the backstreets of Bishkek.


‘A rollicking trip through countries you’re unlikely to read about.’
Escape Magazine – Sunday Herald Sun

'Thacker is an excellent travel writer and this engrossing book is pulled along by his adventurism, wit and well-honed powers of observation.'
The Daily Telegraph

‘A wild and funny romp through lesser-known parts of the world.’
Backpacker Magazine

‘Thacker gives us a lots of sniggers while competently filling in the global blanks.’
Good Reading Magazine




Our couch is not in an excellent shape, however all the conventional facilities are there. I also expect decent standards of hygiene from you (i.e. no peeing on the floors).

Shashank, New Delhi, India


What sort of person offers up their couch to complete strangers? And how can said strangers be sure that the owner of that couch is not an axe-wielding psychopath? Intrigued by this fast-growing phenomenon Brian Thacker set out on a couch surfing tour of the globe to discover how and why dossing on someone’s lounge room floor has become the latest, hippest way to travel.

It’s time to grab your passport, strap yourself in and join Brian as he travels through the Americas, Africa, India, Iceland and places in between, sleeping on floors and couches, under drum kits and in wardrobes; hanging out with some of the strangest, most charming, entertaining or just plain crazy people you could hope — or perhaps hope not — to meet. There’s Mariana of Rio de Janeiro, who is, in her own words, the coolest and happiest Carioca in Rio; Smari from Reykjavik who fed Brian rancid shark; and not forgetting the very hospitable Bob from Chicago (who even threw in a riot just to make him feel at home) to name but a few. Then again, after a night fighting off malaria-carrying mosquitos in a sweat pit in Nairobi you may never feel like leaving home again.


‘The entertaining Sleeping Around should appeal to both real and armchair travellers. It’s a
great book for a humour reader and it should also inspire a whole raft of newcomers to the
cult couch surfing craze.'
Australian Bookseller and Publisher 


‘Thacker’s honesty and sense of humour, plus his ability to throw himself into whatever is going on, makes this a weird, wonderful adventure story’
Nelson Mail (NZ)

‘Thacker’s warmth and respect for his hosts carries across in a book that is odd, wonderful, captivating, and hilariously funny’
Ann-Maree Dwyer, ABC Radio Queensland.


'Brian Thacker is funny, fascinating and amusing. This is a wonderful book for all armchair travellers, world travellers and amateur ethnologists’
TITEL Kulturmagazin (Germany)


‘The hilarious Brian Thacker takes freeloading to a whole new level.’




When Tony Wheeler wrote Lonely Planet’s first-ever shoestring guidebook, South-East Asia offered ‘cheap and interesting travel without the constantly oppressing misery of some of the less fortunate parts of Asia’. Certain ‘hotspots’ in the region attracted the tourist crowds, but there were many ‘untouched places’ too.

So have Tony’s recommendations stood the test of time? Just how much has South-East Asia changed since the Wheelers ambled through the region in flared pants?

Brian Thacker decides to retrace Tony and Maureen’s footsteps through Portuguese Timor, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Burma using the original 1975 South east Asia on a Shoestring as his only guidebook. Along the way Brian meets a cast of folk from the old guidebook who are still manning hotel desks and serving in restaurants. He also encounters mishap and adventure at every step of the Banana Pancake Trail – breaking bread with a gang of ravenous rats; swimming with a hungry goat-and-possibly-also-human-eating crocodile; crashing his scooter (twice); being wanted by the police and propositioned by Gary who likes ‘pens’, and getting lost everywhere…


‘This is a fun read from a well-travelled writer’

Thacker is a great writer and describes his experiences with humour, even when he is running through streets piled high with rubbish, having to cover the hotel bed sheets with his t-shirts because the sheets are so filthy, eating food caked in burning chilli, buying train tickets on the black market or just getting hopelessly lost.'


‘This is a useful, entertaining and informative book about contemporary south-east Asia.'
The Age


‘An insightful and very entertaining read.’
Vacations and Travel Magazine

'An amazing and funny study on the effect tourism and time has had on many of these Asian destinations.'
Backpacker Magazine

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