Wanderlust and Its Aftermath A tell-all interview with world traveller Karissa Johnson
This globetrotter has seen all seven continents.
Not many people can say that they’ve visited every continent on planet earth. Such a feat requires a special kind of ambition.
Enter Karissa Danae Johnson. This world traveller has visited all seven continents, all before the age of 30! But her wanderlust sprang from hardship and humble beginnings.
Karissa was in her early 20’s, when she had the stroke two weeks before graduation in her senior year of college at Oral Roberts University. She had to relearn how to use the right side of her body and even how to write. Time brought her physical healing, but she also needed emotional healing and the chance to reclaim confidence in her abilities.
So in the midst of her struggle, she made it a goal to touch the ground of every continent by age 30. A devout Christian, she understands the power of being born again, and traveling gives her a similar sense of rebirth, fueling a fresh desire for life.
After her first international experience, Karissa shared her top five travel tips with us:
1. Get a passport.
2. Download a translation app or get a printed guide before traveling.
3. Find lodging through Couchsurfing or HostelWorld. (Always trusting the reviews of course.)
4. Book flights through SkyScanner or Google Flights.
5. Find tourist opportunities by searching hashtags on Instagram.
Karissa’s first international flight took her to England and France. Soon after, she had the opportunity to teach English in China for a year. This led to another teaching opportunity in Saudi Arabia. Then it wasn’t long before she made her way to Argentina and finally to the penguins in Antarctica.
But as her exhilarating travels drew to a close, Karissa admits that she struggled with a sense of frustration and depression. After returning home from Antarctica, she felt that she had hit a plateau and wasn’t sure where to direct her energy having reached such a monumental goal.
“When I came back from Antarctica,” Karissa confesses, “I was literally mad that there was not a marching band at the airport banging on drums welcoming me home. I didn’t know any black women who had seen all seven continents, and I just knew my story would make it on the cover of the newspaper, celebrating my accomplishments. When I got back, my family was late picking me up from the airport, and I thought, do they not understand?!”
She recalls caring for her mother who had been fighting cancer for the past year: “My theme for last year was glory. I was so concerned about not receiving glory from my friends and family for my traveling experiences. Then in 2018, I was banging my head against the wall over not receiving enough glory for being my mom’s caretaker. I was trying to find value in the work that I was doing in serving her. And for a time, I felt like it wasn’t noteworthy.”
Karissa knew that her mother graciously celebrated her traveling ambitions. But when the cancer got tougher and her mother was no longer able to fight, Karissa realized it was time to settle into a new chapter of life. She would no longer be taking on speaking engagements or embarking on crazy adventures. She would be using her time to honor her mother and spend every moment she could with her before she passed.
“The greatest thing about this whole experience was that God got glory out of all of it,” Karissa explains. “It was not about giving Karissa a medallion for showing up to all of the chemotherapy treatments. It was about having the chance to glorify God through each step of the entire process and thanking God for the little moments that I was able to have with my mom before she took her last breath.”
Moving forward, Karissa has confirmed that 2019’s theme is all about partnerships and collaboration with others. You can read about her countless travels through her book titled Seven by 30, along with many other travel experiences on her website: https://sevenby30.com/.