Jess and Garrett Gee are the creators of The Bucket List Family. The parents of three sold off their possessions in order to travel and experience the world with their young children. Here, mom Jess shares some insight into their journey and some tips on traveling with kids.
In 2015, we sold everything we owned and set off for what we thought would only be a few months of travel, but those few months turned into three years.
When we initially left, we created a short bucket list, which has now turned into a lifelong journey. We've swam with humpback whales in Tonga, had breakfast with giraffes in Kenya, slept in castles in Ireland and lived like locals.
We quickly learned that a bucket list doesn't have to be a list at all, it's about living life with purpose, and recognizing that there are certain bucket list experiences to be had each and every day of your life. Whether that is around the world, in your own backyard or showing something you love to the ones you love. These experiences have made us brave, encouraged us to try new things we thought we would never do, and helped us to be more open-minded and open-hearted.
In the last five years, Dorothy and Manilla have been to 83 countries, and baby Calihan has been to 37. About two years ago, we set up a home base in Hawaii and truly love where we live. The kids (and Garrett) surf every day and when the right travel opportunity arises, we are ready to pack our bags again!
We've got a few travel tips, whether you're traveling with your family or on your own. We often get asked how we've managed to travel full time with our children and there's a few things we've always kept in mind.
1. Remember how much kids feed off your energy.
If you are stressed, they will feel that stress. Travel days can easily become stressful, so we think it's super important to keep yourself in check for not just the kids, but yourself as well.
Try your best to enjoy every step of the journey.
2. Tell bedtime stories
We also do something really fun the night before we travel where we tell the kids bedtime stories about what to expect and what to get excited about.
We find saying things like, "We're going on a magical plane with snacks and movies, and it's taking us to a magical destination" gets them really excited.
3. Lighten your load
Another big one is how we pack. Pack light! You can buy diapers, wipes and formula everywhere, and most hotels will set up a crib or car seat for you as long as you ask in advance.
4. Keep COVID in mind
As the world is preparing to travel post-pandemic, we recommend knowing the hotel cancellation policy ahead of time. Most destinations are transparent about their rebooking policy, but with COVID-19, best to double check.
This year especially, we will be booking places that have as few people as possible, whether that be a rental home, RV, maybe a campsite, etc.
And of course, follow the COVID testing policies wherever you're going and for when you go back home, which will make everything easier.
In figuring out where to eat or what to do, most tourism boards or resorts are on social media, so we'll check out their pages ahead of time and bookmark what interests us. We absolutely love to support local businesses, so we'll usually try to find a bed and breakfast, restaurant or activity that's really important to the community.
At the end of the day, we do our best to stay present and grateful that we're able to travel together as a family, and experience a new culture and adventure.