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Our Story

MEET MARIE ELENA AND DAN!

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

Well hello there! My name is Marie Elena. In 2015, I began Purple Hood Adventures, which is now run by my husband Dan and myself from our home in Ohio. It was our mission to dedicate our lives to creating and growing something completely new and innovative.

Something more than “just a travel business” or “just a blog.”

Something that was centered not just around traveling the world, but also living a lifestyle of freedom, creativity, passion, culture and experiencing.

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

“Conventional living.” Ahh. If only! Living a real-life comedy show (seriously…you should see what happens to me in public) isn’t always easy but it definitely gives one a different kind of perspective on life. But seriously. If I could just get paid and famed like Jerry Seinfeld 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 everyday. Needless to say, the odds are that I have a story for just about everything!

But I guess “normalcy” never really WAS a word in my vocabulary. I learned at a young age that “normal” usually equated “toning things down a notch,” which my perpetually 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. I once proposed that all streets and sidewalks be changed from their dull grey to brilliant neon colors to “make people happier” when writing a persuasive paper in the second grade (I think I failed that assignment with FLYING colors)!

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 horror movies and candy no one likes. I prefer cats over dogs, sweet things to salty things and carpet to hardwood floors. 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 and I can’t imagine living the same day over and over again until I’m (hopefully) old and (hopefully) still able-bodied!

Well. I CAN imagine and I HAVE lived that type of life. That’s exactly why Purple Hood Adventures exists!

Purple Hood Adventures was designed for the wanderluster and creative type that needs adventure and innovation like the rest of the population needs air. Our goal is to help others out there achieve exactly what WE were looking for all of those years: a life of ongoing travel and experiences, rich connections and friendships and most importantly, a life of fulfilling EVERYDAYS, which allow us to obtain ALL of these things without rushing through MOST days to get to the “reward at the end.”

So what’s with the purple hood?

To add to my “already weird enough” track record, I’m basically a walking frozen bag of peas 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.

In 2017, I decided I’d had enough of working overtime hours that only took me farther from my dream of backpacking Australia and New Zealand for an extended period of time. And so I took a leap of faith and I quit my “OK brick and mortar job” as a speech-language pathologist and I took a remote position, which allowed me to devote time to building my own business AND travel the world location-independently while maintaining an income to fund my travels and business expenses. It was the best year of my life and within months, there I found myself. Right in the heart of downtown Sydney on a cool Friday evening.

On this particular evening, I happened to be walking past numerous night clubs filled with women dressed much more nicely than I was. As I scanned the scene of local Aussie women in their short dresses and bare legs and arms flooding the streets, I trudged past in my three hoodies and my trusty purple Mount Zion windbreaker with the hood up, firmly drawn shut around the center of my mouth (the drawstring on that thing never DID work). At first, I initially felt like a frumpy old hag. No really, I felt like some sort of unkempt beggar lady.

But suddenly, without warning, a light came on (sadly not the heat light). It was when my husband Dan addressed my begrudging complaints in the moment. He told me that traveling the world and being cold while doing so basically defined my entire life (He’s seen my patterns!). There I WAS. After ALL THOSE YEARS. On the other side of the planet backpacking my dream continent. THAT was what I WANTED. THAT was me. Not those girls at the nightclub. I was NEVER one to be fancy and “roughing it” on uncharted soil was what I LIVED for and still DO live for!

He was RIGHT.

That same purple wind breaker that I once saw as “frumpy” has since been worn time and time again through my adventures across countless countries, continents and most recently, at the top of the highest free-standing mountain on EARTH: Kilimanjaro!

And so the name “Purple Hood Adventures” was born. It was then and there in the middle of that cold dark Sydney street that I realized the direction I wanted to go with my business. 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. I realized that experiences ARE what define us and what make us who we are! Even if others surrounding us don’t see travel in the same light, that’s OK! What is truly important is being comfortable with having our own personalities. Our own differences. Being trend-setters. And most importantly…being bold enough to recognize ourselves in our truest form, in own skin, or in my case, in my own beat-up purple jacket!

So that is what Purple Hood Adventures is about. It’s about helping others out there exactly like us travel the world more freely, more easily and definitely more OFTEN. It is about helping those out there like us looking to create an actual LIFESTYLE of location-independence, creative work and self autonomy WHILE traveling the globe. And most importantly, it is about actually connecting all of the creative wanderlusters out there calling malarkey on this whole “live for the weekend and 2 week vacations, conveyor belt” type of 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?

I also lost my mother when I was only 16 and many other family members at a younger age than most. Maybe this is why I take the perspective that I do. 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. Life is not a dress rehearsal!

Great thought, at least, right?! But 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 final leap 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.”

And so I went to work in a nursing home. The 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.

I took the plunge and started doing remote speech teletherapy work with a small startup company (they ended up making it big) who treated their employees like family, but most importantly, allowed me to have a considerable amount of time off, location-independence AND time to devote to developing my OWN business. My own business dedicated to helping others out there EXACTLY like me. OTHER people looking to freely travel the world while living a life of location-independence, creativity and passionate EVERYDAYS! I couldn’t be the only one. I just couldn’t!

And I wasn’t…

Unlike many other entrepreneurs and creative influencers out there who are completely free to live out of a suitcase while traveling the world (Although that IS the end goal!), my husband and I still do live 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. I still do remote speech therapy when I’m not running our full time travel and lifestyle business. We have local friends and family in the area and we still live relatively “normal” lives just like everyone everyone else, for the most part. At 33 and 34, we don’t yet have kids nor do we typically spend too much money on lavish possessions. We value experiences over things and our motto is truly that “travel is the only thing that we can buy which makes us richer.”

Seriously! You should see my 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.

And so my husband Dan and I have dedicated our lives to helping YOU to live YOURS. We believe there is more to living than just following that “conveyor belt” where we progress through the “milestones” of school, work, retirement and everything ELSE society expects from us. Experiencing ourselves (both in our adventures AND those awkward “what are the odds” moments) out in the world and taking a front seat into our own lives will ultimately transform our narratives from a simple book to be read to an actual story to be written and told.

So 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. From:

1. Unique tours, excursions and full on destination information resource pages to

2. Personalized destination quick course videos designed just for you to

3. Access to top deals on flight, hotel, cruise and travel logistics all in ONE single place to

4. Specific travel gear and even…

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 dreams.

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?!

Nonsense. We believe that travel and experiencing fulfillment EVERYday should be a lifestyle. Not a “reward for working to make someone else’s dreams come true the remaining 351 days of the year.”

Since we understand that you can’t 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 struggling to convince those around you that that latest blog post or podcast series you dumped months 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, training and support in how to get YOUR creative dreams off the ground in pursuit of living a life of adventure and location-independence!

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 hook you up to resources and information exploring other options out there too! From:

2. Teaching English abroad to

3. Mastering the training and education in something TOTALLY new you to start something you ARE passionate about AS you make your way around the world!

And finally, Purple Hood Adventures is a community, not a competition like most 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 all over the country (ranging from hikes, brewery visits, 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. We are even beginning to host our own trips as en extended version of our events to help our creative travelers bond and connect in a real way!

4. 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) on travel, culture, lifestyle or creative business building topics, you can check out our own

1. Blogs

2. Podcasts or

3. 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 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 bit) of the way.

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

Adventure on!

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