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  >  Blog   >  The 30-Year Old Virgin Australia Passenger

Post Date: September 10, 2017

Author: Marie Elena



G’day! How are you going? No, my usual habit of jumbling my words has not somehow found its way to my writing (yet). Those phrases happen to be the two most popular greetings in Australia and New Zealand, and as many of you may know, I spent the summer backpacking just there!

You may also have noticed that I have officially changed my business name of “City Hop” to Purple Hood Adventures (note: I already went back to change earlier blogs to resemble the updated name when I transferred them from my old site in case you’re wondering what the heck the old name “city hop” even is)!


Can’t imagine why this might be.


Ah yes, I have finally begun to accept the fact that being in a chronic state of pre-hypothermia is just about as regulated as I get.

Actually, words can never really begin to describe my Australian and New Zealand journeys from these past couple of months.

I spent the last few months and days of my 20s hiking glacier mountains, tubing in glow worm caves, jumping (falling) off waterfalls, road tripping solo (and rear view mirror-less) around the most beautiful place on earth, senselessly venturing into “impassible alpine crossings”, and making life long friends from around the world that I will never forget.

No… I really couldn’t have asked for much more.


Wait…back up…Did I just say “last few days of my 20s???” Sh*?!#! I guess it’s out!


That’s right! Somehow, the most indecisive, quirkiest, clumsiest, messiest, direction-impaired human on the face of the earth has made it 30 years without succumbing to the Darwinian juggernaut of natural selection. AKA, I have not wound up dead, homeless, or captured yet! Impressive, eh?

I had a hard time thinking about where to begin a new blog once returning from my travels. After all, I could essentially write a novel on every hour of every day this summer (and you’d have 100 pictures for each of these hours if you know me at all!). Don’t worry. I will. But I decided not to write about any of that just yet.

Instead, I want to take a minute to talk about the elephant in the room. By that, I mean the big elephant with the giant “30” stamp aligned with flashing neon Christmas lights on a massive billboard overlooking Central Park! It took me a really long time to even want to talk about this…*gulp*… coming of age.

I’m that person who was planning to tell everyone I was 29 up until 3:43pm on August 16th. In case you couldn’t guess, I was born at 3:44pm on August 16th.


But turning 30 wasn’t what I expected.

At all.


“I say if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”
― Calvin and Hobbes


We’ve all been there. We have these goals for ourselves to which we attach realistic or unrealistic deadlines. We like to use age numbers ending in zero because…well…I’m not sure why actually!

Maybe you thought you’d be happily married with 13 kids, own 3 mansions, have a career making 500K a year, and own 17 dogs by now. Instead, maybe you JUST have 17 dogs (in which case you live in my neighborhood and have opted to never use a leash again)!

Actually, here ya go!

cheapest dog supplies


Maybe you thought you’d have visited every continent in the world by now. Instead, maybe you JUST moved to Kentucky. What?! You really like fried chicken and biscuits! No shame in that!

Maybe you thought you were going to move to Queenstown, New Zealand, set up camp in a random bare tree, and live out the remainder of your life there as every passing tour guide points you out for the observers to take free photo shoots. In that case, congratulations! You managed to accomplish this!

Yes, he’s real. I took this picture!


When I was 20, I had no idea what career I would have. Marriage was not on my radar. I hadn’t even THOUGHT about traveling the world. Oh, and I had a really hard time not polishing off the entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. I had a bit of a binge eating problem that I had developed in high school!

I suppose I thought I would have the traditional life of a husband, 3 kids, and a house if someone had asked, but it’s not something I thought of on my own. After all, the future is always the future until it’s the present.

My 20th birthday spent in Avon, North Carolina and the Outer Banks area…Man have the times changed! But I still don’t know how to surf. I haven’t tried since…probably a good thing (for the others in the water).


Later that year, I studied abroad in Germany and traveled Europe. Only seven other OU students were in my group that year. I had some countries I specifically wanted to see, which didn’t always align with others’ plans.

So I traveled solo much of the time. At 20.

As a female college student.

Around Europe.

I gave my American friends heart attacks.


I realized that I could! I could really do anything I wanted if I just had the courage and the initiative to try it! It was nice to have company, but I didn’t mind going alone either.

That’s about when I first figured out how truly exciting travel is and how self-reliant I could be. More importantly, I learned just how different and interesting other parts of the world are. Still, I never really thought of travel as a major part of my future. I was more worried about how I was going to pass Biology 170 (that class will forever haunt me, OU!), how I was going to get my 100lbs of German chocolate home on the plane, and if my crush from German class would still like me after 4 months when I returned to the US!

Uh oh…I’ve been exposed to my future self!


German crush did, for the record. Actually he eventually married me.

I eventually passed Biology 170 (the year this occurred isn’t important!)!

German crush did, for the record. Actually he eventually married me.

The chocolate…well…at least 1/4 of it made it home!

Something happened to my classmate from German 111 in 2008. For some reason, he’s wearing a funny looking tuxedo and pointing at me in the picture on the right from 2013. Strange.



By 25, I WAS married, I had been through grad school, had managed to land a successful professional career, and I even had managed to find and convince my husband to keep a cat (trust me that this WAS a monumental accomplishment)!

By 27, I had a house.

By 28 I had developed a website.

But somewhere in the midst of all of this, I realized that I needed and wanted something slightly different than my friends around me. I had a bit of a shift in my thoughts about the future. I’m indecisive, remember?! Also, when have I EVER been known to do something “normally?” My point exactly.


About five years ago, my wanderlust really took off. Literally. In a few planes.

I had always been a big traveler, but for some reason, the light switch came on right around then. I instantaneously knew I wanted a life of travel in some way, shape or form.To this day, I have no idea what triggered it. Suddenly, I just HAD to get to Australia before I was 30. After all, my life would pretty much be over by then, right?! People would be expecting me to pretty much announce I was pregnant and had “gotten the travel bug out of my system” on my 30th birthday. I would instantly become a domesticated housewife with a 100 acre garden, three casseroles in the oven, and a minivan awaiting my commute to work.

Hello, I’m Marie. Have you met me?

I’m not pregnant, I more than likely have 6 attempted and BURNED desserts in the microwave (I’ve forgotten to actually eat a main entree), there’s a bare garden that I forgot existed and thus, forgot plants could even go into them, and my 15 year old car (still going strong!), covered in hoards of bumper stickers of places traveled, is patiently awaiting my next road trip! Oh, and I work from home, so there goes the part about the work commute even!

And you know what?

I am 30 years and 25 days now. I’m still alive. I think it is going to be OK!

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”-Gandalf

Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but there is no one-size-fits-all sequence of events in life. Sure I want kids, but I had to come to terms with NOT being ready yet.

Traveling more does NOT get the bug “out of my system.” It does the exact opposite. Any other travel-lover might agree. The more places one sees and experiences, the more one realizes just how MUCH there is to see and experience.
Oh, and this will throw you through a loop. When Dan and I DO have kids, guess what they are going to be raised doing as much of as possible! Any guesses???


Something shifted in me as I completed my solo travel journeys this summer. I began to expect the unexpected and I realized that trying to cram in as much as I did wasn’t necessary and actually caused me to miss many of the things I did see (or not see in my case). I realized I WOULD be back. My life would NOT be over at 30, nor did I have to completely change my personality because I turned an age that ended in a zero.

I reflected on everything I had done in my 20s and realized I HAD accomplished all of my goals. My goals had just changed over the years or I had expanded upon them.
If it weren’t for my grad school ambitions at 21, I would never have an amazing career nowadays that allows me to do what I love from absolutely anywhere in the world.

If it weren’t for my desire to stay put in my early 20s instead of fleeing the country every 3 months, I might have never met my husband.

If I had never wanted to be a nomad in my late 20s, maybe I would have a kid by now and NOT be ready.

Do you see a trend now?

Compare millions on flights in one simple check.

Life happens by the day, the month, the year, or by the year and 3.5 months.The universe does not care what decade you’re on. Let your goals guide you and then work to accomplish them. Constantly having new goals after the previous ones are achieved (or not achieved) doesn’t make you “unsettled.” It makes you interesting and it makes you human. Never let your passions burn out because you think they’re unattainable.

 “I’m living vicariously through your photos.” That is the most common phrase I hear people say. Be honest with yourself. Is traveling a priority for you? If so, then make it happen. You won’t be lying in a nursing home one day telling speech therapists like me “If ONLY I hadn’t taken that trip when I was 35! Too bad I didn’t buy that fancy car instead!”
If traveling is not a priority for you, that is OK too! Maybe something else is and that is what makes you YOU!

So wear your heart on your sleeve, your age on chest, your spilled ice cream on your bib, and get on with livin’!

“Life is not a book to be read but a story to be written.”


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