HAWAII — They’re known around the world as The Bucket List Family with millions of people following their weekly adventures on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. After three years and 63 countries, the full-time traveling family from Utah is now settling down in Hawaii.
“Garrett has been trying to get me to move to Hawaii for forever now,” said Jessica Gee.
“Any island, any island would do,” added her husband Garrett Gee. “She fell in love with Hawaii and I was like, ‘alright, let’s do it!’”
While the Gees love Utah and say they will always consider the Beehive State one of their homes, they chose Hawaii because of its location, outdoor adventure, and the laid-back lifestyle in the Aloha State.
“We highly considered New Zealand, we even applied and got accepted for a visa. And then I got pregnant and it didn’t feel right,” Jessica said.
School was one of the reasons the Gees decided to buy a home.
“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,” said Garrett.
Their 5-year-old daughter Dorothy started kindergarten this year. Manilla, 4, began preschool, and Calihan, or “baby Tarzan” as they sweetly call him, is 7 months old and just became mobile. In fact, he started crawling the day the Gees moved into their new home.
But Garrett and Jessica say they never felt pressured to slow down to put the kids in a traditional school setting.
“We were just excited because Garrett and I both had that and loved it and loved public school, especially the friendship thing,” said Jessica.
Friendship is another big reason the Gee family is slowing down a bit.
“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,” said Jessica. “That’s like the one thing I feel like I’m taking from them with all of this.”
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❤️💙💚 This is our amazing guide/spotter this week on safari. He can honestly see a cheetah hiding in the grass from miles and miles away!! 😳🐆😳 Today, he invited us to visit his own village to meet his family and see his cows (he is very proud of his many healthy cows;) and learn more about their culture. They made us feel very welcome as their guests and we left with some incredible hand crafted treasures for our future home that will someday help us welcome guests of our own!! ❤️🏠❤️ ///#family #bucketlist #tanzania #serengeti #love #culture #respect #africa #travel ///@garrettgee @jessgee @dorothygee @manillagee @caligee @taasalodge
The Gees say they still plan to travel about every other month. They already have trips planned to Greece and China.
“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!’” said Jessica.
“We experienced the benefits from an inconsistent lifestyle, but there is also the benefits of a consistent lifestyle. The hard part will be trying to get the best of both,” added Garrett.
The Gees first entered the national spotlight in their early 20’s while attending Brigham Young University. Garrett, along with two partners, sold mobile-scanning app Scan to Snapchat. The acquisition was valued at $54 million.
About a year later, the Gees decided to sell all of their belongings. Proceeds from their cars, furniture and other possessions provided them with about $45,000 to set out on a full-time adventure traveling the world and creating The Bucket List Family brand.
“It’s really difficult to grow a big following and even once you have a big following it’s difficult to monetize off it,” said Garrett.
But by the end of year one, Garrett said The Bucket List Family brand became financially successful and they never had to use their cut of the $54 million while traveling.
“I managed all the brand side, the planning, and then Garrett does all the creative,” said Jessica. “And so we’ve worked well together, we’ve always worked really well together even though it can be difficult working together. It’s been really successful for us.”
When asked if they would do it again if the financial security blanket was taken away, Garrett said “We’re not risk takers and to answer your question we probably would not have taken such a risk especially with kids and a family.”
“We see eye-to-eye on this, if we did not have that safety net, I don’t think we would have done this,” said Jessica.
“It did take some more convincing not only putting me out there but my kids out there. You hear some horror stories and you have to be careful,” she added.
Now that the family is in Hawaii, they’re focused on settling in and remembering what it’s like to own a home, buy a car, and find out when soccer practice takes place.
“We’ve been homeless and vagabonds for so long that the things that get us excited is like lunch boxes and sweeping my own floors and stuff like that,” said Garrett. “That’s pretty fun.”
“I never made my bed [while traveling]. Now I make the bed, I clean, I take out the trash and cook meals. It’s just getting back to those things, which is a ton of work,” said Jessica. “Dorothy just figured out what a weekend is!” she added.
This next chapter in life for the Gees is also about finding a new balance between work and play.
“I try really hard to get all my work done and so when [the kids] get back at 3:00 p.m. I’m done,” said Jessica. “I want to be present with my kids. That’s what I had growing up. My mom was always there and always available, and that’s what I want to do for my kids.”
The Gees say this is the life they envisioned when they started The Bucket List Family journey.
“We’ve worked really hard for this. It’s been the last 10 years of our marriage, of Scan, and of traveling, everything we’ve done. We’ve picked out this life for us and we’re really excited about it,” said Jessica.
“People say, ‘are you sad to not be a full-time traveling family?’ No, this is just the next chapter for us and it might be different for us but different is OK,” said Garrett.