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Our Story

MEET MARIE ELENA AND DAN!

World travelers, adventure-seekers, outdoor enthusiasts and 2 souls who value experiences over “things!”

Well, hello there! My name is Marie Elena and I began Purple Hood Adventures back in 2015. Today, this travel and lifestyle business is run entirely by myself and my husband, Dan, from our Ohio home. Throughout the years, it has been our mission to dedicate our lives to building something completely new, from the ground up. Something that was not handed to us, but could only be created with time and dedication. Something that is not just “a business” but an actual community. Something that has never existed before. What was once “not a thing” is now OUR thing.

A “thing” that is more than “just a travel agency” or “just a blog.”

A “thing” that is centered, not just around world travel, but also living an ongoing life of everything that world travel brings us. Think sense of adventure, experiencing, freedom, creativity, inspiration, and living passionate and fulfilling EVERY days, even if sometimes we can only achieve those things by giving up in our comfort zones and trading them in for uncomfortable risks. To us, travel is about more than just the destination, but the journey from within as we explore, sometimes without.

But, why? Well, let’s start from the very beginning with my own personal story.

“Conventional living.” Ahh, if only! Not by choice, but living a “real-life accidental comedy show” (sometimes what happens to us in public…STAYS in public) seems to be a more accurate representation around these parts. It isn’t always easy, but this kind of life definitely can lead to new perspectives on just about everything (But, seriously, if I could just get paid and famed like Jerry Seinfeld or Kenny from South Park or something, I wouldn’t complain!). I’m mostly just that person that winds up in one of those “what are the odds” situations just about every day. Needless to say, the odds are that I end up having a story for just about everything!

Well, I guess “normalcy” never really WAS a word in my vocabulary anyway. I learned at a young age that “normal” was usually synonymous with “toning things down a notch,” in most of my cases, which my perpetually overly-excited and enthusiastic self has yet to master.

I got teased in middle school for using too much color in my art projects and too many exclamation points on my writing assignments. Once, on a first grade persuasion paper, I proposed that all streets and sidewalks be changed from their dull grey to brilliant neon colors to “make people happier.” I think I failed that one with “flying colors,” to say the least!

But my “oddities” don’t stop at my excessive enthusiasm and love of color. They extend into most of my preferences throughout everyday living as well. It’s a sure sign that if a movie receives a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m definitely going to hate it, but a 30%? Get me to that theater! I love “bad” horror movies and candy no one likes. I prefer cats over dogs, sweet things to salty things and carpet to hardwood floors. I’m both an extrovert AND an introvert, I eat soup year round, air conditioning is my worst enemy, I skip dessert NEVER and my airplane window seat shade is never drawn shut (Sorry, vampires!). I’m basically the anti-human!

I also hate strict routines and the idea of “living for the weekend.” I can’t imagine living the same day over and over again until I’m (hopefully) old and (hopefully) still able-bodied. But above all, I hate that THIS…”IS a thing.”

Well, actually, I CAN imagine and I HAVE lived that type of monotonous and unfullfilling life for many years.THAT, my friends, is exactly why I created Purple Hood Adventures.

Purple Hood Adventures was designed for the wanderluster and visionary types of the world. It was designed for types who needs adventure and creative living like the rest of the population needs air. Our goal is to help YOU (if this is YOUR “thing”) achieve exactly what WE were looking for year after year. Purple Hood Adventures is about helping our community live a life of ongoing travel and experiences, rich connections and friendships and most importantly, a life of fulfilling EVERY DAYS, which allow us to obtain ALL of these things without rushing through MOST days to get to the “reward at the end.”

personilized travel guide

“So what’s with the purple hood?”

To add to my “already weird enough” track record, I’m basically also a walking human refrigerator and to compensate for my perpetually and excessively cold body temperature, I can usually be found wearing triple the layers of clothing of anyone around me.

Yes, even when I travel. ESPECIALLY when I travel.

When 2017 rolled around, I finally decided I had had enough of working overtime hours that only took me farther from my lifelong dream, which was to backpack Australia and New Zealand for an extended period of time. After years of making excuses like “it’s not the right time,” “I don’t have enough money” and “my job needs me too much,” one day, I just stopped. I’m not sure why, but I did and I never looked back. So what did I do? I took a leap of faith and I quit my “OK brick and mortar job” as a speech-language pathologist and took a remote position doing the same thing, which allowed me to devote more time to what I was REALLY passionate about, which was building my own business, AND traveling the world without the constraints of time, location or allotted vacation days off (not that I ever actually HAD any of those anyway)! That year of 2017 was the best year of my life.

Within only a few months of my decision, there I found myself, right in the heart of downtown Sydney, Australia on a ” bit chilly” (as the common majority of people might describe it anyway) Friday evening.

Anyway, on this particular evening of near arctic weather, my husband and I happened to be strolling past what I guessed to be the nightlife scene of the city. The streets were aligned with bouncing clubs and long lines of people awaiting their much-anticipated permission to enter. Most of these line inhabitants appeared to be women who were about my age, dressed…let’s just say…a little nicer than I was. As I scanned the scene of local Aussie attire choices, which would have appeared to be more appropriate for weather some odd 50 degrees warmer, short dresses and bare legs and arms flooded my visual field.

In my truest fashion, I trudged past the nightlife scene in my usual three plus hoodies topped with my trusty purple Mount Zion windbreaker, with the hood up, firmly drawn shut and clasped around the center of my mouth (the drawstring on that thing never DID work). I’m sure I must have looked like some frumpy old unkempt beggar lady! Maybe I was. Maybe I’d NEVER meet expectations about how I SHOULD act or SHOULD look. I’d just never fit in with those that surrounded me ANYWHERE. Not even in Australia! And with that, I plodded through the scene as quickly as I could.

But suddenly, without warning, a light came on in my head (sadly not the heat light). It was actually when my husband addressed my begrudging complaints in the moment. He pointed out that exploring the world while running at AT LEAST 30 degrees colder than the average human while doing so basically defined ME. What DID I actually value? Was it keeping up with the latest fashion trends and going to nightclubs every weekend? No. If I did, I would have been content working my 9-5 brick and mortar job back in the US for the remainder of my life. The fact of the matter is that I knew there was more out there. I was ready for more in life than living for weekends. I knew that there was an entire planet to explore and being cold nor my evening clothing choices had positively ANYTHING to do with that fact!

There I was after ALL THOSE YEARS. I was on the other side of the planet backpacking on my dream continent. THAT was what I wanted in life. THAT was me. I was NOT those Aussie peers at the nightclub but my typical “non fancy” self, “roughing it” as I explored uncharted soil. THAT was what I lived for. I realized that what I did for a living should be what I did to live.

The rarest moment in history had just occurred (and I hesitate to even be writing it), but for once in his entire life, my husband was RIGHT!

And so that same purple wind breaker that I once saw as a “frumpy nuisance that appeared in entirely too many of my travel photos” has since been worn time and time again through my adventures across countless countries, continents and most recently, to the top of the highest free-standing mountain on EARTH: Kilimanjaro!

So the name “Purple Hood Adventures” is more than just a jacket I acquired from Zion National Park. It is a state of mind that one can only obtained by truly learning to be comfortable in oneself, even in an uncomfortable environment. It was then and there, in the middle of that cold lit up Sydney downtown street that I realized the direction I wanted to go with my travel and lifestyle business. I realized that travel is more than about just a destination at the moment but the journey within that lasts all moments.

I realized that ultimately traveling the world, experiencing other cultures and most importantly, experiencing myself outside of my own comfort zone was MY key to true happiness and freedom in life. I realized that experiences ARE what define us and what make us who we are. I realized that even if others surrounding me didn’t see travel in the same light as I did, that was OK! What is truly important is being comfortable with our OWN goals, desires, differences and values in life. It’s like being trend-setters of our OWN lives. But most importantly…it’s about being bold enough to recognize ourselves in our truest form, in own skin, or in my case, in my own beat-up purple jacket!

And so, the intent of Purple Hood Adventures ultimately became to help others out there just like us to be able to achieve ultimate freedom to explore the globe and oneself throughout the journey. We want you to be able to travel the world more freely, more easily and definitely more OFTEN. Not only do we want to help you do this, but we want to help you ditch the “working for the weekend” and “living for two week vacations” mindset and to create an actual LIFESTYLE of location-independence, creative work doing what you LOVE every day and self autonomy AS you pursue a more nomadic lifestyle rich with experiences. Oh, and we don’t want you to have to go it alone. We aim to actually connect you and the rest of our travel and lifestyle creators out there who you swore didn’t exist outside your own brain! You know, all the others out there calling malarkey on this whole “normal life” we are often expected to follow because….I don’t know? It’s just what a bunch of people older than us told us we needed to do to survive from a young age and we just sort of accepted it as reality?

Was it losing my mother to cancer at 16 or the countless other family members at an entirely-too-young young age that ultimately lead me to see life in a different light and to take a much different perspective than most people my age? Maybe. Maybe it just came with the countless moments of contemplative staring out the airplane window as I’ve solo traveled over the years. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Most people sit around and wait for retirement saying “one day.” But what if “one day” never comes? What if those “one days” are the last days? Morbid-sounding, yes. But who says we need to “have a wake up call” or a health scare to wake up to life!? The idea should be to live our lives to the fullest EVERY day, from the very beginning. Don’t sit around and wait for life to happen. This is not a dress rehearsal!

Great thought, at least, right?! Still…it’s not so easy to just “not follow the norms of society” when everyone around you is “following the norms of society” while judging you for “not following the norms of society.”

My said final leap of faith occurred after I had already racked up a considerable amount of debt from the student loans of grad school, which financially bound me to essentially indefinitely live out my life paying off what I was expected to deem “a small price to pay for being set for life.”

I spent my early days as a speech-language pathologist working in a nursing home (my said brick and mortar first pick in jobs). That was the only obvious solution, right?! I ended up spending 90% of my day dreaming about freely backpacking around Australia and New Zealand while I spent the other 10% listening to elderly patients on their death beds telling me to “GO NOW! What are you waiting for?!”. I survived this lifestyle for THREE WHOLE YEARS, which may as well have been 30! With my unconventional wanderlust, obsession with travel, borderline unhealthy addiction to geography and travel blogs and my looming 9-5 hives, I decided enough was enough.

So I quit! With a plan, at least.

That was when I began working remotely with a small startup company (they ended up making it big) who treated their employees like family. But what was most important, was that I was able to get a considerable amount of time off, the location-independence I had been searching for for so long AND time to devote to developing my OWN business dedicated to helping others break the cycle. I couldn’t be the only one looking for something more in life. I just COULDN’T!

And I wasn’t…

It turned out there was a whole world out there and people IN this world waiting to be discovered. By me. And now…by YOU.

Although my husband and my end goal is to ultimately be entirely free to travel the world whenever we wish, we recognize that anything worthwhile is not usually attainable over night. We have enjoyed watching Purple Hood Adventures and our community of wanderlusters and content creators grow steadily over the years and we couldn’t be any more excited! We live a modest life in a small house with with our cat Sampson (he is SPECTACULAR). We still have more student loans than I care to admit and we both still hold “traditional” full time jobs on the side. We still live relatively “normal” lives (or at least…by the books) just like everyone else. At ages 34 and 35, we continue to value experiences over material possessions and our ongoing motto is that “travel is truly the only thing that we can buy which makes us richer.”

Seriously! You should see my old 300,000 mile 2002 Pontiac Grand Am absolutely FILLED with travel stickers from all over the world! No new sterile “nicer” car could ever match up. Material possessions last for days, weeks or even years…but memories? Those last a lifetime.

My husband and I have dedicated our lives to helping YOU to live YOURS. We believe there is more to living than just progressing through the “milestones” of school, work for the next 45 years and ending at “ultimate living” at retirement (whenever that is). Experiencing ourselves, both in our adventures AND in those awkward “what are the odds” moments and taking a front seat into our own lives EVERY day will ultimately transform our narratives from a simple book to be read to an actual story to be written and told.

But how?

First and foremost, we feel that many people perpetually delay adventure and travel due to lack of ease, time and money. We are independent travel agents who help you to not only GET to exactly where you want to go, but also to have an experience of a lifetime. We want to help remove the barriers you THINK you may have keeping you from writing your story.

We can connect you to:

 

1. Unique tours, excursions, tailored experiences and even personalized “insider information” resource packets

 

2. Personalized destination quick course videos

 

3. Access to top deals on flights, hotels, RVs, cruises and other travel logistics

 

4. Specific travel gear

 

5. Professional trip and itinerary planning

 

We’ve thought of just about everything to help YOU put those “one day” travel dreams into TOday travel realities.

But what about when your trip is over? Return to business as usual in the office from 9-5 awaiting next YEAR when you have those 2 weeks of vacation again?!

In case you’ve read nothing leading up to this point…that’s a big fat “NONSENSE!” We believe that travel and experiencing fulfillment EVERY day should be a lifestyle and not just a reward for working to make someone else’s dreams come true the remaining 351 days of the year.

Since we understand that it’s a bit difficult to just travel constantly without a reliable income, we’ve come up with a few ways to help you remove THAT barrier too.

Maybe YOU’RE a creative like us and you’re struggling to convince those around you that your latest blog post or podcast series you dumped months and many sleepless nights into completing is as exciting as that pay bump for taking on extra work in the office. Creativity can be grossly undervalued in a society of structure and rigid routine. We know this all too well!

That is why we want to help YOU to build and profit off of your own blog, podcast or creative entrepreneurship. How?

We connect you to:

 

1. Resources,quick courses, training and support in how to get YOUR creative dreams off the ground

 

Creativity or entrepreneurship not your thing but still want that location-independence and freedom to actually spend days doing what you DO love? We thought so. That is why we also can connect you to resources and information exploring other options out there too like…

 

2. Teaching English abroad

 

3. Training and education in something TOTALLY new to you in interest of working in a location-independent field that you ARE passionate about

 

And finally, Purple Hood Adventures is a community, not a competition like many other things in life. That’s why we want to get connected with you as YOU make your way towards YOUR adventurous and creative bold dreams as WE make our way to OURS!

We host:

 

1. In-person events (ranging from hikes, short trips, restaurant meetups, picnics and trivia events, to name just a few) centered around a wide array of topics ranging from travel-based discussions to entrepreneurship and creative influencing info talks and collaborations

 

2. Virtual events centered around those same topics

 

3. Can’t make our events? We have a shared chat forum right on our site for you to share your pictures and stories or just to ask a question for the travel and lifestyle community!

 

Purple Hood Adventures is not a large mainstream corporation or a billion dollar booking company, but a 1-2 man small business run from our home hoping to expand one day, but not so much that we are EVER removed from the original purpose.

Oh yeah, and we are creatives ourselves, so if you just like to sit back and read or hear about OUR experiences (or the experiences of our special guests) with travel, culture, lifestyle or creative business-building topics, you can check out our

* Blogs

*Podcasts

*Vlogs

either on our website or on your preferred channels to watch or listen!

If you’ve always wanted to transform your “ONE days” into “TOdays” and your todays into WON days all while having a community of support and friendships with others who share your passions as an adventure-lover and life enthusiast, look no further. Don’t just TAKE it a day at a time. MAKE it a day at a time. Get out there and start adventuring, lighting up the world and living the life you were meant to. We’ll be there with you every step (or neon orange and pink sidewalk block) along the way.

Oh, and most importantly, do so in confidence in yourself in own skin or your own beat-up windbreaker jacket.

Adventure on!

So hop in the car, put the HOOD DOWN AND HEAD OUT!