Outdoor Connection

Mali Mish - The Family that RVs Together Stays Together

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The Lin Family in front of Mali Mish; their Airstream trailer
Lin Family in front of Mali Mish; their Airstream trailer

When people get married, more often than not the first thing that gets listed on their to-do list is to find a stable roof over their heads under which they could create an environment for growing a family. If it happens that the two people making up the couple, or at least one of them, are vagabonds at heart, the usual route is to set aside the vagabond lifestyle so they could set down roots for their children.

That is the usual route. But this usual route seemed to suck the life out of Dan and Marlene Lin, a couple from California with a love for traveling and adventure. So, in 2008, they did the opposite. First, they sold their Tab, an adorable teardrop camper they took for short camping holidays, and replaced her with a shiny 2007 Airstream International 25FB Ocean Breeze. This Airstream they dubbed "Mali Mish", which is Croatian for "little mouse". Then the Lins put up their Californian home for rent. Finally, they packed their stuff, their then-toddler Ava, and their cat Yoda, and went on an adventure of a lifetime.

To date, the Lins have traveled coast to coast, from California to the Florida Keys. What started out as a family of three became a family of five, with the addition of daughter Mila in 2009 and son Luka in 2012. And they've got dozens of travel and road warrior stories to share, which they continually chronicle on their blog, MaliMish.com.

What made the Lins take to the road in the first place? The timing just seemed right for them in 2008. Dan was already an established self-employed web developer, while the company Marlene worked for closed down and laid off all its employees. With the traveling bug already biting at them, they decided to go ahead and let their vagabond spirits free.

Though the Lins aren't technically full-time RVers - they still spend part of each year at their home in California - raising a young family on the road is no mean feat that they have achieved beautifully. Dan broke down some of the secrets of their RVing success on a blog post where he gave another young family looking into full-time RVing some really useful advice:

  1. Do some Workamping. It is possible to find work that can fund a full-time RVing lifestyle and be done while on the road. As mentioned earlier, Dan already has an established web development business that enables him to work from any location. He revealed that there are many companies that outsource projects to workampers, and some of these outsourced jobs can be found on CraigsList.
  2. Keep RV living costs low. Dan wrote that, depending on the location, traveling in an RV can be cheaper than living in a house. He said that his family of five can probably live comfortably on $20,000 a year if they stuck to a budget. The secret, he said, is staying at campsites on a weekly basis to avail of lower weekly rates and to move shorter distances when relocating from campground to campground.
  3. Help the kids to adapt to camping and home school. Dan acknowledges that RV living is not for everyone. A big factor, he wrote, is how the kids take to living on the road. They are also homeschooling Ava, and he believes his kids have many learning opportunities on the road they won't find inside a classroom.

Dan wrote that many of the retirees they've met on their travels have said they wish they didn't wait for retirement age to start RVing. It reinforces his belief that the vagabond life is truly the right choice for them, and that they are creating amazing memories not just for himself but also for his children when they grow up.

Read more about the Lins and their RVing adventures on MaliMish.com.

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