Free world trip over, Elizabeth Gallagher proclaims 'brother-sister dynamic' with her host
Published Tuesday, January 13, 2015 1:08PM EST
A Toronto man and his newfound travel companion have returned from an around-the-world trip that made international headlines.
Jordan Axani, 28, planned a trip around the world with his girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher, last year.
When the pair broke up in November, Axani said he realized that the tickets could not be refunded or exchanged. He turned to the Internet for help, posting an ad on Reddit: Are you named Elizabeth Gallagher (and Canadian)? Want a free plane ticket around the world?"
His story was followed by media organizations outside of North America, including Australia, the Philippines, Brazil, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Axani met 18 women with the same name as his ex-girlfriend before settling on Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, 23, of Cole Harbour, N.S.
Gallagher said she had reservations at first, and was put at ease after meeting Axani and his parents three days before the trip was due to begin.
"You can tell what someone's going to be like based on where they come from, so it was really nice to meet his parents," she told CTV Toronto on Tuesday.
The pair of strangers left Toronto for New York City on Dec. 21, spent three weeks visiting destinations including Paris, Milan and Hong Kong, before they flew back to Toronto on Jan. 8.
"It sort of brought out this brother-sister dynamic between us," Axani told CTV Toronto on Tuesday.
"When you spend three weeks with somebody, travelling around, you get to know anybody pretty well. I feel like I've known you for years after this," he said to Gallagher.
Prague was Gallagher's favourite city on the trip, while Axani said he loved Hong Kong.
They spent part of the trip together, but did some sight-seeing on their own. They said they were approached by people in almost every city who recognized them and knew their story. They also got invitations over social media from people who lived in the cities they visited.
"We met some amazing people and it really made the trip," Gallagher said, mentioning other tourists, tour guides and residents of the cities they visited.
Axani said he thinks they'll remain friends and will keep in touch, but there's "no romance here."
"It's going to be an experience we both tell our respective children about," he said.
"It was a ticket that was going to go to waste, and now we have this incredible adventure. It's a story we'll tell for the rest of our lives."
Since the original Reddit post, Axani has used the attention to start up a charity called A Ticket Forward, which aims to offer those in need their own trip of a lifetime.
"By leveraging the power of storytelling and the latest in crowdsourcing technologies, we provide individuals who have suffered from health, financial, and other tangible misfortunes with the travel experience of a lifetime," the website says.