We called our blog 'a life made simple' because it seemed to fit when I first started it up in the fall of 2011. Our life is fairly simple compared to most, or as simple as we can make it in this crazy world. We have made a decision to live this way in order to increase our freedom and lower our stress. 

Working for only five months out of the year obviously means that our family needs to live very simply, it's the price we pay for the benefits of traveling.

Here's the deal. We don't live in a house or an apartment - nothing with straight walls. We don't have to pay rent or a mortgage. This frees up a lot of our money.

Thankfully, for three summers at the parks we have managed there was a cabin. A chance for the Wood Clan to stretch their legs for a few months. Pure luxury actually. You don't realize how good it is to have all the luxuries of a home until you live without them. Last year however, we camped in the forest for five months without a cabin - even without electricity. It was a little rough but we survived.

Not that we do to badly with the van. 

I know, it's small. But - it's cozy.

Here's Hraefn = Raven - our 1990 Ford Econoline Van Conversion. How the van came to be called Raven and how it ever came to be painted with Ravens all over it is a bit of a story. Here are all the gory details of our exterior van renovation - it all started with a Simple Plan.

How the van looked when we bought it and for our fall 2012 and spring 2013 trip south.

The blog posts are:

After an interior and exterior renovation during the summer of 2013 and how it looked for our fall 2013 and spring 2014 trip south.

The blog posts are:

After another exterior paint job during the summer of 2014 and how it looks now during our fall 2014 and spring 2015 trip south.

The blog post is:

So, really how to we live on our $20,000 or so budget? Well, we've found a few tricks over the years.

The main thing is to purchase less stuff. 
Another, is to travel smart. While on the road in the USA - and sometimes Mexico - we boondock or stealth camp. We overnight at Home Depot, Lowes, rest areas, craft breweries or side streets. We generally only pay to overnight in New Mexico because the State Parks are a reasonable $14 for water and electric.
We are not cheap - but we are frugal. We think out our purchases.
We don't spend money on things we don't need and we have gotten pretty good at realizing that there are a lot of things we don't really want. 

That way we can spend our money instead on those items we really will enjoy. 
Which is travel, good restaurant food, craft beer and in Derek's case - his ecig and smokes. 

The big trick is that we have no credit - no credit cards - we have no debt.

Our only monthly payment is our van insurance which is $98. 

We also don't have cell phones which throws many people off. How can you live - and travel - without a cell phone. Not sure but it works for us. We do use MagicJack via our iPad for any calls we need to make.

Although it varies we try to live on $1,000 to $1,200 per month. Much easier to do in the USA and Mexico then Canada, which we find much more expensive especially food and gas.

I've written about these things along the way, Simply Free talks about how and where we overnight on our travels without paying for it. And this is how we grocery shop.


  1. I'm in awe of you! I am a pet blogger and my dream is to have a very simple motorhome and travel all around blogging about all things pets. You inspire me! (Lisa - The Pet Blog Lady in the Okanagan)

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  3. Love all the paint jobs you all did in both the interior and exterior. Its very impressive to see how you travel and it's inspiring! Awesome blog <3

  4. Wow.. What an amazing page and an amazing family! What a gift, and extreme amount of knowledge shared here.
    Thank You so much.

    Do You still have the Ford Elite? How is it holding up?
    There is a 1990 for sale in my area.. Do You recommend it, Most likely. I wonder how it would be without doing all of the work You have done.

    Thanks again. So glad to see everything here.


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