The Gee family considers themselves as just “your average family”, but they’ve proven to the whole world that they’re anything but, In 2015, Garrett and Jessica Gee decided to jump ship, sell everything that they had, and travel around the world to soak up as many experiences and adventures listed on their bucket list as they could.
But as wonderful as that may be, that didn’t mean it was going to be easy to do as it is to say. From getting robbed and getting injured, to diving down with whales and getting pregnant and adding a new little member to the family, let’s jump in and explore the whos, whys of how The Bucket List Family made their dreams happen!
So Much More Than Traveling
The glorious and notorious Gee family, or more famously known as “The Bucket List Family”, have made a name in the traveling world as one of the most interesting families out there.
Why? Because they literally dropped everything in their lives and sold all of their belongings, just to explore every inch and corner of the world that they could, with an impressive budget. But it’s about so much more than just traveling the world and exploring it for themselves.
Comfortable with Success
So how did their adventure begin? It all starts with the couple not wanting to just feel too conferrable with their success.
“I graduated and began working as an online marketer and web developer. For 2 years I worked to support our family while Garrett worked on his crazy ventures. His hard work began to pay off and instead of getting comfortable with our success we just decided to dream even bigger!” Jessica eagerly shared on their website.
Right around the time that smart apps started to get big, Garrett and his friends jumped on the start-up wagon and had the perfect addition to the social media world.
From Zero to 1.7 Million
You know the cool and convenient function that Snapchat has where you can scan your little Snapchat ghost to recognize another user and immediately add them? Well Garrett and his friends were the founders of that feature. How cool!
Google and several Silicon Valley investors jumped on board, and the app took off faster than they could even comprehend the situation!
“Our company went from almost zero in our bank account to $1.7 million … It changed our lives overnight,” Garrett shared with People.
But before you think that Garrett and Jessica used that money to travel around the world, think again.
Takin’ Names and Bicylce-Kickin’ Life
One thing led to the next, and the couple moved to California so that Garrett could work the corporate life with his incredible company. The group of friends, now business colleagues, even made an appearance on Shark Tank to help raise some money and awareness to their start-up. After that, Snapchat quickly acquired their newly developed technology for a whopping $54 million!
From literally, zero to millions of dollars, it’s safe to say that Garret was taking names and bicycle-kicking life in the booty! But there was just one small problem with this so-called American Dream.
Living the American Dream
The initial start of this new venture in life was incredibly exciting for Garrett! He was literally living the American Dream, and was soaking it all in.
But as day after day went by, he started to realize that this lifestyle just wasn’t what he wanted in life.
“I never really considered myself a businessman—I enjoyed the creative and entrepreneurial side,” Garrett revealed to Business Insider.
The couple took a long, hard look at their life and started to think to themselves, why not turn their American Dream into something more along the lines of an International Dream?
There’s No Better Time Than the Present
Both Garrett and Jessica were the type of people who craved new adventures, exploring cultures, and bettering themselves as people through real-life experience. And, unfortunately, Garrett was missing out on spending time with his family and wasn’t fulfilling his passion for fitness and health with this glorious position with Snapchat.
So once the lovebirds made the final realization that there’s no better time than the present, everything changed. But that didn’t mean that they wanted to take the easy way out and just cash-in Garrett’s hard-earned millions from the Scan app.
Diving in with a Plan
Overall, the family has traveled to over 50 different countries and experienced a myriad of diverse adventures from diving deep into the sea to traveling to the tops of cliffs. So it’s safe to say that they definitely fulfilled their dreams—but this incredible dream wasn’t something that they decided to do spontaneously.
At this point in time, Garrett and Jessica were more than just the two of them—they had expanded their family and had a couple of super adorable kiddos that they were raising at the time, too!
So with that said, they couldn’t necessarily dive into all of this magical madness without at least a little bit of planning.
“It Just Became Real”
Far before they came to be the famous family of five traveling around like ambitious nomads, the Gees were a family of four, and started out their travels on a smaller scale.
Before voyaging anywhere, they began with just a list of things that they wanted to add and incorporate into their lives.
“A new house and cars didn’t feel right … We didn’t need that stuff. We were young, healthy and really didn’t need much of anything. So, we started joking about putting our money in savings, selling everything and using those funds to travel the world. Where would we go? What would we do? And as we began to add more plans to our bucket list, it just became real,” Garrett shared with People.
Starting Out Small
Without really knowing how far their big dream would actually take them, the family started out small, and journeyed around the country for a couple of months.
They explored their beautiful homeland of America, including the breath-taking northwest scenery in the state of Oregon and the mountainous wilderness of Idaho.
However, by then, they had caught the travel bug quickly, and were eager to expand their travels overseas. But again, they couldn’t do that without getting their ducks in order first.
Once they returned home, they made a final decision to sell everything and travel around for as long as their hearts desired.
They held one big yard sale and sold absolutely anything and everything that they could. At the end of it all, they were left with two boxes of their journals and pictures, and $45,000.
And with their earned cash from their possessions, they decided to use that money for all of their travel needs and expenses, and to save Garrett’s millions of dollars from the Scan app in the bank.
But that’s not all they decided to do with their earnings.
Before Kicking the Bucket
Many people around the world have a “bucket list” that they’ve created for themselves, of all the things that they want to accomplish and achieve in their lives before they kick the bucket.
With the amazing developments in transportation and convenience we’ve seen over the past half century, there is the ability and flexibility to travel around and see the world like never before, the Gee family decided to jump on this opportunity in 2015. And their bucket list consisted of so much more than crossing off countries on their travel list.
However, Garrett did reveal that having that security blanket was a big reason they felt like they could do that. “We’re not risk takers and … we probably would not have taken such a risk, [without the financial security blanket], especially with kids and a family,” Garrett shared with KSLTV.
7 Goals to Focus On
The family started their big journey on August 15, 2015, and shared two important things with the world. One was a list of defined goals they had in the back of their mind. The Bucket List Family wrote down seven different goals they expected to focus on during their trip:
- Become closer as a marriage and a family
- Be good friends to the people in our lives
- Live a life of service and compassion
- Learn to find happiness with less
- Become more open minded and open hearted
- Love and respect nature and our planet
- Create life long memories
The Real Reason They Became “The Bucket List Family”
Along with the seven goals that they set out for the new chapter in their lives, they also started up their blog and official website, The Bucket List Family.
Their initial “About” page explained the real reason that they decided to live like resourceful modern-day nomads for the foreseeable future: “We were going to take the typical next step in life and “grow up” and build a house and settle into careers … buuut how bout not! We’re not quite ready for that. We feel like we still have so much to learn about life and happiness before we can set up our future life and home. That’s why we started our family bucket list. We decided as a young family that now was the time to form healthy habits and create traditions that will hopefully shape us into better people the rest of our lives.”
Following Their Goals
Their very first goal on their go-getters list was to “become closer as a marriage and a family” and the last one was to “create life long memories”, which clearly, they were doing with all of their time together traveling around.
Another one of their goals was to “learn to find happiness with less,” and they would soon learn how to manage with a frugal travel budget, especially after they kicked off their overseas adventures around the South Pacific region including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Thailand for their first 4 months.
But a crucial goal that they didn’t want to get lost in all of the adventure was to “live a life of service and compassion”.
The glorious Gee family wanted to instill some pretty significant values and principles in their lives. So in 2015, they started out by providing a struggling family of five with a surprise vacation to Disneyland. How amazing!
“The feeling Garrett and I received afterwards ensured us that we had to continue this type of service throughout our lives,” Jessica revealed to People.
They followed up with their act of kindness and paying-it-forward by crossing off another heart-warming and charitable goal from their bucket list.
The Gees Free Surgery Giveaway
Along with the travel bug, the family caught the pay-it-forward bug, and quickly tried to find all sorts of ways they could help better the community any way that they could.
In Christmas of 2015, the family picked 5 different deserving people to pay for their LASIK eye surgery as a special holiday gift. How sweet!
“We try and share and give gifts that we feel have greatly benefited our own lives … Near perfect vision is such a blessing–I was sad I hadn’t made vision a higher priority in my life … Within 24 hours of putting our plan for free [LASIK] surgery out there, more than 200 names and stories were submitted,” Jessica explained to People.
Being Good and Feeling Good
While they were always incredibly compassionate, the family was well on their way to becoming better and kinder human beings, and were proud to spread the love around the world.
“The feeling Garrett and I received afterwards ensured us that we had to continue this type of service throughout our lives,” Jessica further explained with People.
But happiness doesn’t just come from helping others. Jessica and Garrett experienced all sorts of wild things that brought them closer to achieving the goals they initially had set—including unique ways to find happiness.
Happiness is Everywhere
As they started to travel more and more, they decided that they would just keep traveling for six months and see where their budget was at that point. However, as they reached closer and closer to the finish line, they still had enough cash flow to keep things going. Not just that, but they found ways to be resourceful.
“We’ve learned to find happiness with less … and we’ve become more open-minded and open-hearted. We’ve learned about other cultures and where they seek happiness. Good, happy people, I’ve learned, come from everywhere,” Garrett shared with People.
Finding Happiness with Less
The family has traveled around the world for about three years in total. How exactly did they make it all work with a budget of $45,000?
Well, it all comes back to how it got started—social media.
Garrett, being an innovative entrepreneur, created The Bucket List Family as a brand, and opened all sorts of social media accounts and a travel blog to reck up some extra dough.
Although it wasn’t easy, patience paid, and within a year of their journey, the brand had kicked off and became a success for them! Which in turn, aided in their finances throughout their glorious global journey. Talk about impressive!
Their Roles in the Brand
It might be tempting to want to touch the millions that you have saved up in the bank when you know you’re sitting on a golden goose egg, but the power couple decided to be resourceful and fund their frugal adventure in an innovative way.
The dynamic duo shared on their website that, “[Garrett’s] role in The Bucket List Family is mostly creative work including all the photography, videography, and editing,” while Jessica’s role “is to run our main social medias and work together with our sponsors and other business collaborations.”
Currently, the Bucket List Family has over 2.5 million followers on Instagram alone!
All Sorts of Obstacles
All of their travels and time together truly bonded them as a family, and strengthened their values. But it wasn’t always such smooth sailing—especially with two toddlers thrown into the mix.
Toddler meltdowns, losing their baggage, bug bites, and their eldest Dorothy’s accident in the shower and needing stiches for her chin (yikes!), it’s safe to say there’s been all sorts of ups and downs during the trip.
And even though all of those obstacles aren’t that easy to get over, there was one special challenge that the family encountered about two years into their journey.
“We Wanted To Give Up and Return”
“It’s not easy traveling with young children … and there were many times when we wanted to give up and return to the comforts of our hometown. It was extra hard in the beginning, so now wherever we go, it’s important to keep some consistency in our daily routine. Even though the kids wake up in a different country each week, they know their daily schedule will be somewhat familiar and consistent,” Jessica shared with People.
The dynamic duo eventually found their way around traveling with two toddlers, but about two years into their traveling, Jessica found out that she was pregnant with another adorable little baby!
Ambitious is an Understatement
Can you imagine what it must’ve been like to travel around the globe while pregnant? Ambitious seems like an understatement for this power couple!
While this exciting and happy news might stress some people out and urge them to go home, the family wasn’t going to call it quits just yet.
They kept on crossing things off of their bucket list during her pregnancy, and eventually made their way back to their home-base in Utah for the last couple of months of her pregnancy. But that didn’t stop them from adventuring around.
Welcome Baby Calihan!
While the family returned back home for Jessica’s third pregnancy, the rest of the family was still venturing around as much as they could in their magnificent, mountainous home state of Utah.
And before they knew it, their nomadic family of four quickly became a family of five, as they welcomed baby Calihan into the mix!
Traveling as a Child
As soon as Jessica and Garrett felt ready to travel again after the birth, they were back on the road, exploring new sights and trying new things with their toddlers and newborn.
Speaking of raising kids while traveling around, though, how were things emotionally for the little ones? It’s clear through their videos and pictures they all had a blast, but seeing as Dorothy was getting older and understanding things more, the traveling around would get a bit tough for her.
One of the Hardest Parts of Traveling
As an adult, we’re more equipped to understand and comprehend complex situations and dramatic changes. And while kids are resilient and incredibly capable of adjusting to new things quickly, there were some parts of their trips that were harder than others, emotionally.
“Sometimes we would have friends come out and visit for a week and when they would go home my daughter would just lose it and it was the hardest thing for me … That’s like the one thing I feel like I’m taking from them with all of this,” Jessica shared with KSLTV.
Even with those emotional hardships, Garrett and Jessica don’t regret anything and loves the way their kids have gotten to experience their first few years of life.
Dorothy and Manilla had a chance to “go to school” in the most unconventional ways in unique countries all over the world, meeting all sorts of kids from different cultures and backgrounds.
However, now that the kids were getting older, Jessica and Garrett decided that it was finally time to settle-down and find a home base for their family to grow up in.
Originally, they considered New Zealand and even got approval for visas. But when they discovered she was pregnant with baby Calihan, the couple had another idea.
Going Back to School
After 3 years of trekking around the world, the family finally decided that it was time to find a home-base and settle down so that their children could get a proper education that they never got to experience.
“We were just excited because Garrett and I both had that and loved it and loved public school, especially the friendship thing,” Jessica revealed to KSLTV.
And so, the family decided to settle down, but not in just any place. They chose one of the most beautiful places on the planet—Hawaii.
“This is home base while we continue to travel, this is a place where we can have some consistency, community. The kids can get involved with school and soccer and other activities like that,” Garrett added. How exciting for the little ones!
Once the Gee family decided to settle down in the gorgeous state of Hawaii in 2018, the proud parents experienced a whole new set of obstacles when it comes to school.
“At our parent orientation they were like, ‘you can take them out of school for 25 days a year and if you need to do more we can talk about it,’ but I was like, ‘That’s a lot of days of school … and we’ll probably use it!’” Jessica added.
While the couple has been used to packing travel bags, they’ve now transitioned into packing lunch boxes and back-packs for school—which they seem to really be enjoying. How precious!
It looks like no matter what the challenge is, this family is always up and ready to go for it.
How Jessica and Garrett Met
Now that we’ve covered the whos, hows, and whys of their glorious adventure, how did Jessica and Garrett even meet in the first place?
Long before this dream came to be, the family of five started as just two—Jessica and Garrett.
Both Garrett and Jessica are individually ambitious all on their own—in fact they even met spontaneously on the other side of the world in Russia!
That’s right, the two of them were each there on a personal adventure when their paths crossed at a local flower shop in Vladivostok, Russia. Talk about romantic!
A Little Bit About Jessica
While the power couple wouldn’t date until much later after meeting during their service mission across the world, it’s safe to say it was love at first sight. But that’s not the only thing that Jessica fell in love with during her trip.
“When I was 21, I moved to Vladivostok, Russia to serve a mission for my church. That’s where I learned a deep LOVE for serving others and experiencing new cultures,” Jessica wrote on their official website, The Bucket List Family.
Falling Head Over Heels
After their trip in Russia, both Garrett and Jessica went back to school, where they studied at the same college at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah.
While Jessica kept to her studies and eventually graduated with a degree in Marketing, let’s just say Garrett was playing a different ball game when it came to his studies.
His focus was his passion and talents in soccer, and did whatever he could to get on the BYU team.
However, years before they transitioned from being college students to adults in the real world, the two ambitiously driven peas in a pod started to date and fell head over heels for each other.
Young and In Love
In 2009, the two young lovebirds decided to make things official, happily tie the knot, and start their lives together. And even though they had so many plans for themselves in the future, both of them were focused on their college careers. Jessica was focused on her studies, while Garrett was focused on soccer.
Unfortunately, the soccer fairy didn’t make the cut his freshmen year when he applied for the team. But after ambitiously training on his own, he soared on the field and finally made the team during his sophomore year in 2013, and played until his senior year in 2015.
A Little Bit About Garrett
As we mentioned before, even though they attended the same university, when it came to education, Jessica and Garrett both took different approaches.
Ever since Garrett was a little kid, he loved everything about it and it provided for his life—specifically, “the competition, camaraderie, and health” as he stated on their website.
He took that passion of his all the way to university with him. But that’s not the only thing that he had cooking up during his college years.
From Zero to Hero
“Once my college soccer career was complete, I decided to continue my education outside of formal schooling and drop out,” Garrett shared on their website. But don’t worry, dropping wasn’t for nothing. “I used to be called Captain of my soccer team. Then I was called CEO of my own company,” he explained. Talk about zero to hero!
But how exactly did Garrett go from dropping out to CEO?
While Jessica was focused on finding ways for serving others in the Marketing world, Garrett started focusing on servicing others with modern technology.
Determined to Change the World
We’ve seen an advancement in technology within the past decade like never before! From having an app for basically everything, to being able to communicate and share your lives with people all over the world via social media in a matter of seconds right there from your fingertips, the list goes on!
And Garrett was determined to be one of those people who would help change the world.
During his college days, Garrett befriended some people who all decided to put their heads together and create something incredible—the Scan app that Snapchat bought.
Which brings us to full circle on the whos, hows, and whys of the story behind the inspiring and incredible Bucket List Family.
Staying True All the Way Through
After they settled down and updated their “About Us” section, Jessica and Garrett came across their original post from August 15, 2015 about their seven goals that they wanted to reach and maintain before, during, and after their adventure.
“It makes us proud to read back on these goals and see how well we’ve stayed true to our values and worked hard to become better people, little by little, each and every day,” they eagerly wrote on their site.
Don’t worry though, just because they’ve found a home base in Hawaii, doesn’t mean they’re done with their wild ventures! They plan on traveling at least once a month, and utilizing any days off that they have.