Is there a bigger testament to a person’s wanderlust than living out of a van? It’s the modern version of riding the rails, but without a bindle and the overriding hobo associations. Not just anyone can take up this vagabond existence, though. It requires a very particular type — someone who’s willing to give up modern comforts for the freedom to roam. That means a life of public restrooms and quick showers; quickly formed communities and occasional isolation.
Christian and Aubry Matney are the youngest vanlifers we’ve ever had on #TheMadOnes. Christian just turned 21 and Aubry is 22. He was 19 to her 21 when they got married. At those ages, most people are figuring out how to scam WiFi from the neighbors and arguing over which dive bar makes the strongest/cheapest drinks for happy hour. Meanwhile, this couple was committing themselves to a minimalist lifestyle — loading their every possession in the back of a van.
As they travel, the duo is recording their journey and making videos for followers on Instagram and YouTube. They even made a video for their YouTube channel addressing the matter of their age — because though it’s quite noteworthy, it’s also a point of insecurity.
Aubry and Christian took a break from the road to talk with us about their relationship, their careers, and how every aspect of their life has been improved through travel. They speak with such enthusiasm about the community that you’ll find yourself cruising van listings on Craigslist by the time you hit the third photo.
How did you two meet?
Christian: We both work for an alternate higher education company, so a little bit unique, and we were both in school. Let’s see Aubry, was this three years ago?
Aubry: Yes. Three years ago.
Christian: I was just about to finish up my degree, but we both started working for this alternate higher education company [Emerit Education]. We did a lot of the coursework for our degrees online, and Aubry traveled full time for her job, or was just about to start that. We met through school. I was working on Capitol Hill up in DC, so I was part of the system, man. I got her to come up and visit me, and we started dating long distance. Then, we did weekend trips in Chicago or Portland or wherever. That’s how things started.
Aubry: We went to school through this alternative higher education company and met at an event in Texas. Christian lived in DC, I lived in LA, and we were all over the place, trying to meet up and see each other. I had been working for this company, and Christian started working for this company, we both moved to San Antonio and got married there.
Christian: She would have to travel to Chicago, so I would try to plan a surprise visit there, and it wouldn’t work, but it was still fun. We went around the country together for a little while, and I think that’s kind of where the love for travel and everything started. We were getting to know each other on the road. Once we went to San Antonio, the travel mindset had already been established. We were already super minimalist, because we had started a relationship like that.