Hello, everyone!!

I know, I know. It’s been 6 months since our last newsletter. A lot has happened since our last one so let’s catch up.

Progreso, Mexico – October 2023

The first bit of BIG NEWS we have to share is that we were just named Expedition Portal’s 2023 OVERLANDERS OF THE YEAR! To say we were surprised would be an understatement. It is a huge honor and we truly appreciate the team over at Expedition Portal and Overland Journal for recognizing the adventures our family has been on since 2008. As of January 2024, we have driven to 47 countries in our camper van on 4 different continents… with three kids in tow and a couple of cats too. Yes, it’s a lot of chaos but we love it and our adventure is still going. In the spring, we will ship our van to our fifth continent and are excited to see what South America holds for us. You can find our interview for the 2023 Overlanders of the Year award here.

Our summer back in the States was a success. As I mentioned in our last newsletter, we decided to store the van in Mexico so we could fly back to the US to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Because we travel full-time and are usually away from our families, we miss quite a bit of stuff back home. One of the downsides of our lifestyle. We felt like this event wasn’t to be missed and made it happen. We went on our first cruise with my family and liked it more than we expected. Usually, we give cruise ships the evil eye in ports because of the congestion they cause and the cell service they hog but this time it was us. Well sorta. We actually didn’t step foot off of the ship in any of the Mexican ports and enjoyed the quiet of the ship while everyone else was onshore. Kids really enjoyed no lines at the waterslides on those days and we’ve been to all the port cities before so we didn’t feel like we were missing anything.

Eastern Sierra, California – July 2023

One of the cool things that also happened this summer is that our friends over at Four Wheel Campers let us borrow a flatbed Grandby model on a Ram 3500 for a couple of months. It was so fun to relive our days in an FWC truck camper. We used to live in an FWC Grandby on an F250 from 2015-2018, between our time in our Airstream and our current Sprinter van. After we picked up the rig from the factory, we took it to an FWC Owner’s rally, attended Overland Expo PNW, and took it camping around Oregon, the Lost Coast, Yosemite, and the Eastern Sierras. For a full tour of the FWC, click here. To watch our adventures in it, click here.

Progreso, Mexico – October 2023

After a fun summer away, we flew back to Mexico and straight into the heat again. Happy to be reunited with the van that we stored in Cancun. Luckily no hurricanes came through while it was stored but we did get a few spots of mold here and there inside. Before we hit the road again, we opted to get new tires installed. Our current tires were only a year old but we realized that the skinny tires we chose last year were close to their weight rating. So instead of constantly worrying about pushing our limits, we chose to get a new set that gave us a larger padding to the tire’s weight limit. We once again went with BFGoodrich KO2s for all four plus a spare.

Then we were off again and quickly realized that the intense humid heat, lack of AC when not driving, and living in a metal box didn’t mix well, even in “winter” here. So when we could, we drove up in elevation for a break in the heat. And when we were at sea level and the heat wasn’t too much, we found ourselves at campgrounds with electricity to run an additional box fan all day and night. And when that started to get annoying or when it got even hotter, we rented air-conditioned AirBnBs. And that was our plan as we drove out of Mexico and into Central America. That plan is working out pretty well.

But truthfully, the biggest downside of campgrounds down in Mexico and Central America is that the majority of them charge per person. And that sucks for larger families like us. We purposely seek out campgrounds that have a flat fee but those aren’t as plentiful. The per-person charge makes the price point similar to renting an Airbnb in some places, especially in countries like Costa Rica where we are currently. Our choices here are pretty much 1) sweat in the van for $50 a night or 2) sleep in a house with AC for the same price. It’s annoying and I wanted to share to let others with older kids know what to expect and budget accordingly.

I guess we could always drive through this area as fast as we can to beat the heat and high prices but that didn’t feel right for our family either. So as someone who travels on a limited budget and as cheaply as we can, we find ourselves skipping a lot of tourist activities and we’ve learned over the years to be ok with that since we are not on a trip with a set budget and itinerary.

But on the upside, Mexico and Central America have been beautiful and we’re happy exploring all the newness around us. From jumping into our first cenotes in Mexico…

Homun, Mexico – November 2023

…to the tropical lifestyle of Belize…

Corozal, Belize – November 2023

…to the volcanic highlands of Guatemala…

Antigua, Guatemala – December 2023

…to the black sand beaches of El Salvador…

Playa San Blas, El Salvador – December 2023

…to camping at the base of a volcano in Nicaragua…

Cerro Negro, Nicaragua – Decemver 2023

…and to the amazing biodiversity in Costa Rica…

Uvita, Costa Rica – January 2024

…we are happy to be back in our home again, exploring as a family.

Thanks for reading,
Marlene (and the rest of the Mali Mish crew)


Fun Things We’ve Been In Lately

Bound For Nowhere: We had the pleasure of spending time with MAK and Owen in Baja last winter and made an appearance in a couple of episodes of their current series Todo Bien. Baja will always be a special spot and spending time there with friends is just the icing on the cake. Watch the whole series here and the two episodes we are in here and here. I love that our time together is documented in such a beautiful way.

Tight Loops: We also got to spend time with another talented couple in Baja as well, Aimee and Chase of Tight Loops Fly. They just released a full-length feature film called In The Shadow of the San Pedro Martir that’s a beautifully documented adventure. I didn’t realize that we’d make an appearance in it but we did and it made our hearts very happy. Go check it out. You won’t regret it.


How to Support Us

Patreon: Join us on Patreon for sneak peeks into our lives, monthly video chats, and where we give priority to any questions you might have for us.

One-on-One Coaching: We offer 1-on-1 coaching sessions!


Find Us Online

Instagram: This is where we post in almost real-time.

Our Main YouTube: This is where we put up long-form videos.;’/

Marlene’s YouTube: In case you miss our IG stories, we repost them here.

Threads: A fun new platform where we post funny things that happen in our day to day.


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