What Happened To Guy Who Took Viral Trip With Stranger?

Filed Under: Media, Travel

Social media and the internet can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand it allows us to meet people we otherwise wouldn’t be able to meet and to hear stories we wouldn’t otherwise be able to hear. At the same time, that also comes with a lot of responsibility and judgment, which people are sometimes unprepared for.

Perhaps the most intriguing travel story of last year was of the Canadian guy who broke up with his girlfriend after having booked a round the world trip for the couple. Since tickets are non-transferable and don’t allow name changes, he set out to find another girl with the same name to take on the trip with him.

Amazingly enough he found someone with the same name to take on the trip. After the trip we even got to find out how it all went — they had fun, or so they claimed.

As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, a movie is even being made about the concept, called “Non-Transferable.” Here’s the trailer for the (rather cheesy looking) movie:

Obviously the movie is only loosely based on the original story, and it sure makes it all seem like a very romantic trip. But apparently coping with the aftermath of the trip has been much more of a struggle than most would probably assume, ultimately leading to him being depressed and suicidal. I think this part of the story is just as important to share as the original.

Via The Times Of India:

“The public wanted it to be so much more salacious than it really was. We didn’t fall in love,” Mr Axani said. The aftermath of the experience became “a crazy exercise in what you do when you let the world down”, he added.

Following the media frenzy, Mr Axani, now 29, spun into a depressive state and became suicidal. “I had a total breakdown and almost killed myself. I had so much guilt about how much this hurt my previous partner and her family. I loved her very much.”

Mr Axani has been coming to terms with the guilt he felt at inadvertently humiliating his former partner and is now on good terms with her.

Things are on the up again, but this time Mr Axani is firmly in control. A “decent-sized” Hollywood film documenting his experiences is currently in the works and Mr Axani is also penning a book. In between meetings with producers and publishers Mr Axani has carved out a career as a public speaker – he recently gave a TED Talk – and has been busy setting up a mental health charity, the Bounde Foundation.

“Going viral helped me look at how I was living my life. To me the story wasn’t about traveling the world with a stranger but how to reconcile yourself with making such a huge error in judgement. Now I’m using the story to do something good.”

For anyone who’s interested, here’s Jordan Axani’s TED Talk, entitled “the problem with purpose:”


Watching that video was the best 16 minutes I spent today. The talk is mostly about finding your purpose in life, and it’s framed somewhat within the viral trip he took, in which he was trying to find his purpose. There are some great quotes regarding the trip:

  • “The trip itself was a traveling roadshow press release.”
  • “We smiled for the cameras because that’s really what we had to do.”
  • “We went into this journey as two authentic people taking a trip together, but by the end of it we were actors. We were faking it. We knew it.”

Bottom line

It’s great he’s back in control of his life. This was one of the most popular human interest stories in history, with over four billion media impressions globally, and it’s easy to look at it through a rosy filter and assume it was all fun. But as is evident here, events like this can have an impact on people. It’s an interesting twist, certainly, and a good lesson. If you have the time to watch Axani’s TED Talk, I highly recommend it.

(Tip of the hat to Yash)

  1. I’m not a doctor but could it be cause and effect?

    I understand he wanted to go on the trip, but still common sense would dictate that after a break up it’s better to give it some time to be processed before embarking on an impulsive travel adventure. So now he has done the aspirational travel but it has led to mental problems. It’s sad it happened but hopefully he recovers fully. But please don’t moneytize this as part of therapy.

  2. PS: shouldn’t it be: whatever happend to THE guy etc…..
    Please proofread the title ….
    I understand it though as i’m suffering from jetlag too in DAD 🙂

  3. @ Roberto — Not a function of proofreading, just trying to use shorthand so title doesn’t get too long. Could have also added “a” in front of “viral” and “stranger,” but at that point title is super wordy.

  4. He’s such an idiot. It will never cease to amaze me how someone could make such a BIG deal from nothing. OMG. He was depressed and suicidal after the trip… Purpose in his life… and bla-bla-bla… all that bu***s**t that comes to lazy and completely self centred people in first class societies.

    I hope he’ll find his purpose helping to feed kids somewhere in Botswana. While unfortunately he will not. Instead he’ll be producing more and more bu***s**t on how he struggled, how he almost killed himself, found a purpose and recovered to live… to talk… Hero!

  5. @Lucky
    Can’t argue with that, haha 🙂
    Anyway if you do the IHG accelerate challenge, try and do it at IC’s Danang resort. I’m there now and it’s a pretty impressive property to spend the holidays, weather unfortunately a bit cloudy .

  6. Thx for the video Lucky. It came at en extremely opportune time. Only I know how much the link to the video through your blog jolted me. Thank you.

  7. Against the odds he found someone with the same name to travel with him. I’m surprised he let others expectations that it would turn into something more affect him so much.

  8. He nailed it when he said he was acting. He took something that was supposed to be “real” (his trip with his ex) and made it into a media show. Every bit of it was fake and he discovered he was living a lie of his own making.

    And not only was he living a lie, he was doing it very publicly. Not an easy combination.

  9. My guess is his depression was not a result of taking the trip, nor the media circus. Lots of normal people end up feeling depressed, possibly suicidal, after the breakup of a major relationship. The trip provided a distraction from feeling that. But when the distraction was over, like an inflatable ball you try to hold underwater, it inevitably popped back up. No surprise there….

    @Denis, how is the internet connection over there in Botswana? And do you really feel okay about taking time out from feeding the children to post a critical comment here?

  10. Ben, I really hope this means you plan to have more introspection about how you seem sometimes to relish in being part of the very machinery that chews these people up and spits them out. I posted a bit about this in the comments to your third or fourth post about the Korean Airlines nut executive, and I try to do the same for some of your other look-at-this-salacious-thing-in-social-media blog entries, but theperson who needs to read this blog entry is you, not your readers. Whether it’s Amy’s Baking Company or the nut executive, you seem love this stuff to the point where it’s started to infect your blog and feels like it will take it over. You’re small cog in the machine to be sure, but a cog nonetheless and a solemn, “important” other-side-of-the-social-media blog entry really comes across as, well, hypocritical, unless what you’re telling us is that you no longer have an appetite for participating in the TMZ-style blood sport that destroys people like this poor guy and his former partner.

  11. Ben,…I have lurked and ultimately loved you and your site since I was enlightened by Rolling Stone article in July ….I actually “save up your posts” to read as the last transport to dreams. I LOVE your readers comments as they fly all over the world. I just filed bankruptcy, but who cares?… I totally feel like I am in emigrates apartments swigging Krug….and watch the sassy….FA!,….what I have learned from you about miles and points is fascinating….thank you for your passionate addiction that has created such a great blog site.

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