Search & Replace S03E15: Alyssa Johnson

Alyssa Johnson, founder of Fearless Freedom Travel, shares her inspiring journey of personal growth and empowerment. During the pandemic, she embraced being alone, leading her to create a community on TikTok and organizing group travel experiences for women of all ages, helping them gain confidence and break free from their comfort zones. Explore how Alyssa helps others discover their bravery and capabilities through solo travel on Search and Replace. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode.

[00:00:10] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if the best part of choosing to tackle life on your own is discovering a new community of friends? I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.

Alyssa Johnson tells us that sometimes to get away from a rough patch in your life, you just really need to get away – by using a plane.

[00:00:35] Alyssa Johnson: I was in a emotionally abusive marriage and I was deeply, deeply involved in people pleasing ways, which is odd to me because growing up I was so independent. And after I got divorced, I took a solo trip and I was able to think back to all of the ways that I had given away my power in my marriage and let myself be controlled and really just not be able to do things for myself. I didn’t feel like I had the ability to go out and say, have dinner alone, or go to see a movie even, or go to a concert, let alone travel.

I went to England and I spent 10 days there not having to compromise with anybody. Not having to check if they were okay with a schedule change, not having to make sure that someone else’s needs and wants were accommodated. And that, for me, was a huge turning point in my journey with people pleasing and fear, really, of being alone. Because I didn’t know who I was when I was alone. If I wasn’t somebody’s partner, if I wasn’t somebody’s wife, I wasn’t trying to be their friend. And so really the solo traveling has completely changed my life.

[00:01:49] Joe Taylor Jr.: Just as Alyssa discovered her newfound wanderlust travelers around the world got the worst news possible.

[00:01:56] Alyssa Johnson: This was just prior to the Covid pandemic. And so I got back into the country and then had years, literal years to reflect on what this trip did for me.

As we all know, the pandemic forced a lot of us to be alone. I don’t have children, I don’t have pets, and obviously by that time I didn’t have a partner or a spouse. So I really was completely alone and it really forced me to get comfortable with that. After just coming off this amazing solo trip, I come home and I’m alone. None of my family lived nearby, so I really had a long period of time to get comfortable with being alone, which for my entire life was

something I was terrified of. I worried so much about what other people thought of me, if I did anything alone because I was so consumed with how the world views people that are alone, in any shape or form. Even if they’re walking to the bus or reading a book in a diner by themselves, because they’re just simply enjoying a meal and the book.

And so it took several months, those first couple really hard pandemic months, and really focused in on leaning into being alone. Who am I? What do I like about myself? What do I have to offer the world?

As we, sort of, came out of that major isolation period and I started being around more people, I realized that that was a profound period of time for me as far as being confident in myself, and I needed to get that out, but I wasn’t sure what that was gonna look like.

[00:03:22] Joe Taylor Jr.: Like so many of us stuck at home during the pandemic, Alyssa sought refuge in social media.

[00:03:28] Alyssa Johnson: In 2022, which was the catalyst for everything, for being able to help other women get the same sort of aha moments and epiphanies that I had. I wasn’t sure still how I was going to get this message out, and so I joined TikTok, reluctantly started posting about my experiences. And it wasn’t very long before so many similar women started following me and commenting on my videos, and I realized, oh, there’s something to this.

One of my videos in particular went, sort of, viral and there were so many women commenting on it saying, oh my gosh, I wish I had the confidence or, the ability, or the time to do X, Y, Z on my own, but I just can’t, I don’t feel comfortable. I don’t feel safe. And so to that video, I posted a follow up asking people just simply asking if they would be interested in some sort of group travel experience for all of us that are in a similar boat where I would go with them.

[00:04:32] Joe Taylor Jr.: So as travel restrictions lifted around the world, a bunch of the folks who told Alyssa, they felt like they were in the same boat… got on the same boat.

[00:04:41] Alyssa Johnson: It showed me that there was this community out there that had this need. There’s no shortage of group trips for women on the internet, but they usually don’t target first time solo travelers who are nervous about solo traveling. And I think the difference with these trips is they’re for women of all ages. A lot of these other group trips are for women in their twenties and thirties, and I think there’s been a market of women in their forties,

fifties, sixties, that has been, sort of, overlooked in this. And so that’s where I think the community that I’ve built has become so successful because it’s not just for a certain age group of women.

[00:05:14] Joe Taylor Jr.: And that’s how Alyssa found herself in the unexpected role of fellow traveler and tour organizer.

[00:05:21] Alyssa Johnson: This has been, honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. Like I said, in no way did I set out to do anything like this. It just all, sort of, happened really organically and I think that’s the best part about it, it was all accidental. And I’ve done a year’s worth of these trips now, and I have met some of my new best friends on the trip, and that has been profoundly rewarding.

And so these just make me ball sometimes when I get emails from women telling me how much braver and confident and able to do things that they feel. They feel like things are possible. Whereas before the trip, they, sort of, felt at an impassive impossibility. So to be able to, sort of, usher that monumental change in for these women has just been something I never dreamed of and it’s been the best.

[00:06:12] Joe Taylor Jr.: Alyssa’s got some advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation of wanting to try something daring on your own for the first time.

[00:06:19] Alyssa Johnson: Just try. It is not gonna be for everybody, but you won’t know until you try and you won’t know what you can do until you try. So put the fear aside a little bit because you never know what you’re capable of until you actually try to do something.

I did not think that I was capable of anything like this until I gave it a shot. Challenge yourself because there’s, you know, that adage that nothing grows inside your comfort zone. So just push a little bit outside that comfort zone and you really, truly don’t know what could happen.

Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s Alyssa Johnson, founder of Fearless Freedom Travel. We’ve got links to Alyssa’s work in our show notes and on our website at

Today’s episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I’m Joe Taylor, Jr.

[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor, user experience

specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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