Marlene and Dan spend an average of 7-8 months of the year on the road in their airstream trailer with their 3 young children (Ava , Mila , and Luka ). They’re spending summer 2014 traveling and are set to have hit all 48 states in their 7 years as trailer owners. Learn more on their website about their unique travel experiences as they challenge the modern dynamic of family and home.
Check out the photos above and below – © Malimish.com
Meet Marlene and learn about life on the road with a young family.
Whose idea was the airstream trailer?
Dan was the one that had the idea of buying a trailer and traveling. Our first trailer was a modern tear drop that we purchased from a dealer that also sold Airstream trailers. When we casually stepped into one “just” to check them out, both of our jaws dropped and we both knew Airstream ownership was just a matter of time. We traded our tear drop less than a year later for an Airstream.
Where do you call home when you’re not traveling?
When we first bought our Airstream, we were splitting our time between the road and our old hometown of Ventura, California. When we realized that travelling was not just a “bug,” but a way of life for us, we said good-bye to our home in Ventura. Now when we are back in southern California, we spend our time in San Pedro, where I was born and raised.
Your family has grown from 3 to 5 (not including your cat) in the 7 years since you acquired your airstream. You say on your website that its growth has only increased your love of traveling. Do you think that other families would benefit from trips such as yours?
I believe so. I have seen it first hand in our family. When we first started traveling as a family with our oldest child, it was wonderful to see how she adapted to a constant changing environment, watched her love of nature grow and got to spend every minute together. Now that she has a little sister and brother, it is incredible to watch them explore the world outside their ever changing “backyard” and watch as their sibling bond grows stronger and stronger by the day. When you spend every day together, all day long, how could you not become stronger and richer as a family?
Have you met other families on the road? Have the girls acquired any pen-pals?
When we first started travelling with the Airstream back in 2008, we rarely met any other families at the campgrounds we were visiting. But as full-timing and road-schooling have increased in popularity, the amount of families on the road has also. But most of the other families we have met on the road is due to social media. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is so easy to meet up with virtual friends and turn them into real life friends. The kids have a couple friends that they keep in touch with via mail. Our oldest kid has recently become more interested in her Instagram account and loves to keep in touch with friends via photos, comments… and a lot of emojis.
Your little girls have quite the collection of “Junior Ranger” badges. How many have they achieved? How did they get interested in National Parks and the Junior Ranger program?
We first learned about the Junior Ranger program from a full-timing Airstream family that helped guide us into this lifestyle. So when our girls were old enough to complete the booklets that National Parks supply for free, we started to casually collect the badges. A random badge here and random badge there because we didn’t go out of way to explore the parks. It wasn’t until they were closer to school age that our way of traveling changed.
A lot of people ask us how we decide where to go. Well, now that the kids are a bit older we follow the path that leads us to our national parks, monuments and historical sites. There is a reason these places have been saved. Sometimes we show up not knowing anything about a place, but we are ALWAYS glad we made the effort. You never know what you’ll find. As of today, the girls have earned 55 badges. (And their little brother might have a handful of badges thanks to some kind Park Rangers.)
How do you hope your children will look back on these adventures?
I hope they will look back at our time together fondly. We hear from so many grown-ups that the summer road trips they went on as kids were some of the best memories that they hold. We would be ecstatic if our children said the same as adults.
Is there a part of the country you’ve yet to explore?
We have not explored the Northeast nor have we explored the four states in the center of the country. But we are currently on our way to explore both of those areas. By the end of the summer, we would have travelled thru all the lower 48 states. That just leaves Alaska. And Hawaii when they finish building that road 😉
If your and Dan’s “van roles” were a ven diagram – where would they overlap? How would they differ?
99% of the time, Dan is our chauffer and I am in charge of entertainment for the children. We both spend time looking into our next destination. That’s a part of travel that most people don’t realize. You are constantly researching the next road to take, the next place to stay at, the next restaurant to eat at, etc. You are always in research mode.
Are you and Dan able to grab any alone time while traveling?
It’s funny when people look at our lives and say that we are so lucky to be “on vacation” all the time. I wouldn’t call not having a babysitter for 7 months straight a vacation (!) We get a couple hours of quiet time after the kids all go to bed… unless they wore us out and we go to sleep with them
Snap a photo of your 5 must-take items for the road.
- Ergo Baby Carrier
- Digital SLR
- National Park Pass
- Coffee (!!)
Where are you now and where will you be in one month?
At this very moment [July 18, 2014] we are collecting Junior Ranger badges and running from mosquitoes at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In a month, we will hopefully eating some lobster rolls in Maine.