Travel will set your soul on fire and give you wilder opportunities than you knew could exist, but there’s no such thing as free lunch. As a solo female backpacker that’s been trotting around the globe for the better part of three years (and counting), I can definitely say I have had my laughs, my scares, my frustrations, and my heartbreaks. Let’s hark on the latter for a quick second, actually. Heartbreaks.
There is so much to be said for these while traveling. And yes, sometimes heartbreaks are romantic, but more than that, I’ve had more friendship heartbreaks over the past three years than I’d say I’ve had in the rest of my life. In fact, I’d beg to say I’ve had at least 30 times the friendship heartbreaks than in the rest of my life.
Now, if you’re a backpacker reading this, then I’d guess you know exactly what I mean. But, if you’re part of the other, what? 99.9% of the world then you might be having a few questions. When you travel alone, you’re never really alone. Sometimes, you’re with so many people so often that you actually wish you could have just five minutes to yourself before someone wakes you up at who knows what hour in the morning, day or night, and asks if you want to go to a super cool jungle party they just heard about. Just five minutes alone was all you craved - but the party is tonight only. So of course, your social recharge is super booted and you’re out the dorm door in five. And then after an insane night, you and that same new friend go for breakfast with some other travelers you met at the party. Then you two decide to go explore the city you’re in. And screw it, after dinner together let’s plan out what time we should all catch the bus to that tiny village I heard a stranger mention they had heard about a few nights back? Because why not?
All of a sudden it’s been 2.5 weeks and you haven’t left these now best mates' sides for more than six minutes to take a conservative shower. Oh, and once you were clean they had your fresh, $2 local beer ready at the table in the hostel for you so you could all discuss which events you’d hit tonight. These relationships - these are the ones that light your spirit on fire and absolutely crush you when they end. And the worst part is, it’s never a bitter end. You’re never leaving because you had a falling out? Or that you’re bored with each other?
It’s that they have a place they’re keen on going that you’ve already visited, and you likewise. It’s because you have an amazing temple in the country over you need to hit, but their most ideal next spot is in a new continent. It’s because both parties are so full of life and adventure, and have so many experiences they need to have to feel their own type of fulfilled, that they could never possibly agree on what is the most important forever. It’s because eventually, you part ways. And that’s hard.
So you do it again in the next place. You meet soul-capturing people who change you for the better in ways you never knew you needed to be. You know you’ll never meet a better group. And like clockwork, it's onto the next. Sometimes the group is just okay and sometimes they are absolutely moving.
And after months, maybe years, of this friendship lose and regain cycle, it catches up. All of the sadness, the nostalgia, the missing, it hits you at once. You don’t want to make new friends because you don’t want to fall in love and be destroyed again in a few days, weeks, or months when you inevitably depart. And that’s where things, at least in my experience, can go downhill quickly.
Maybe I’m the problem, maybe I fall too hard, give it all too much… but that’s the fun, I think. Giving everything you have, not holding anything back because you know there is nothing to lose because they’ll be gone in a flash - that’s what changes you. You can tell people your deepest darkest secrets and they’ll give you their honest feedback because why do they care?
You’re a stranger who will share amazing moments for a few weeks and then fall back into stranger territory. No party has anything to lose.
So, I say, why not give everything you have? Well, there’s only one drawback, and that my friends, is that fall. After months of these heartbreaks, it starts to wear on the mind. As I said, personally, I became upset, unwilling to make new friends. Reluctant to walk to the rainbow right outside my dorm, because all I could see was the eventual rain to follow.
So I wallowed, I got lost in my own confusion. Lost in an epidemic of internal, perpetual sadness that had been built of stones and concreted into place because I never stopped to reflect on between groups. Had I reflected, maybe, just maybe, I would have wallowed a small bit, accepted my huge gain and my upsetting loss, then tossed the stone into the river. But I hadn’t. And now these stones were concreted and boxing me in and the walled enclosure had become too high to climb out of never mind see what was waiting on the other side. Personally, I cracked. I started having anxiety attacks, panic attacks, night terrors. Trouble being alone but a reluctance to be with people. I wanted new friends, and friends wanted me (as people at hostels always do) but no matter what I tried, I felt alone.
So now what? I remain immobile in the very question I posed earlier. Do you remain in these highs and lows, feeling amazing and terrible every few weeks? Or do you choose the flatline? Never really knowing anyone at all? Walking through jeweled walls from our ancestors and ruins of an ancient world solo. Sharing it with no one because you’re worried that’s how you’ll end up feeling anyways.
Well, if you’ve ever tried to make a decision during weeks of non stop panic attacks, you’ll already know that thinking straight isn’t really an option. What you think you may choose now, you may not even realize is a possible solution while in the moment.
In my case, I always end up going home.
This has happened a few times to me. This perpetual heartbreak I so adore and despise. But finally, I just can’t take it anymore. To be stuck, and then forced to end such an amazing trip because of my mental? It’s not cool. Not to me. I spent months trying to figure out how to solve this problem. And through running and meditating, both somewhat solutions, an even brighter solution arose. A magic little travel supplement. Something you could take every day to keep happy and healthy. Instead of trying to fix the problem, we just avoid the whole thing in the first place.
I knew I wasn’t the only one with this issue, but I also knew this wasn’t the only health struggle people faced through long-term travel. I thought about my friends, I did research, and I put out polls. I figured out the problems that people faced most consistently during long-term travels.
The constants were things like anxiety/stress, upset stomach, feeling exhausted, not being able to sleep, trouble focusing, getting random coughs and colds, and getting sad. Easy, I thought. I’ll just fix them all. And so… I did.
I spent months researching crossover ingredients, recollecting Ayurvedic knowledge from my studies across India and other countries, and figuring out different countries' secrets to full-body wellness.
I hired a pharmacist, we dosed it all out, and we made the perfect pill. We fixed every issue listed and added a complete multivitamin to it. 20 ingredients in all. Vegan. Halal. Kosher. You name it.
Two pills, once a day, and you never have to worry about a damn health-related thing ever again. And you know what? It actually worked… I handed it out all over Central America for 6 months to any backpacker I met and asked for feedback. Everyone said they felt amazing in whatever way they typically lacked - the exact results we were hoping for. So, I concepted the first-ever reusable, tin container for supplements (that fits anywhere a deck of cards would for easy storage), named it Co-Pilot (because it’s your buddy through whatever you’re going through), and got the FDA on board! A year and a half later, we’re finally ready to give it out to the entire world. Wow, what a treat.
Editor’s Note: This supplement also supplements work you do on yourself, like taking the time to reflect. But it helps avoid these dramatic mood swings if you find yourself in one of these situations. If you begin feeling mentally unrested while traveling long term, taking it helps you calm down and think clearly. Maybe there is something else your mental needs (such as a good reflection, a phone call to a loved one, a nice night's sleep) in order to feel good - but now that you’re thinking clearly, rather than chaotically as you had been prior to taking it, you can actually see that solution.