Jessica and Garrett Gee, parents known as “The Bucket List Family” to their millions of social media followers, have visited more than 90 countries with their children over the years.
The family began their journey together in August 2015. Since then, Jessica tells TODAY.com that “as soon as school is out, we’re usually on the road.”
Jessica recently released her first book, Bucket List Family Travel, on February 6, which chronicles the family’s adventures and provides tips for family travel.
Along with the amazing moments, Gee has her share of travel horror stories.
She recalls a time when the family was in Miami on their way to the Caribbean, and they didn’t make it to the gate in time for their flight. She says her son, Manilla, fell and opened his mouth and everything turned into “just chaos”.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘I want to go home,'” Gee tells TODAY.com.
“Then I realized where I was like ‘I don’t have a home.’ A few seconds later, it sounds strange, I said: ‘This is my home, these people are my home.’ It doesn’t matter where I am, does it?”
The hard part of the trip, she notes, “also sweetens the good times.”
Another time, the whole family got sick in Fiji when Jessica and the kids had to leave, while Garett stayed behind. She says the whole flight turned into a disaster while everyone was sick.
“You have to be prepared enough for when things go wrong,” she tells TODAY.com. “Being prepared in a way that when things go wrong, having the financial wherewithal and the ability to miss a day, things like that. Just be ready to roll with the punches.”
On the same trip to Fiji where the whole family got sick, Gee says she and the family had one of the best moments of the trip when they all went surfing.
“Everybody was surfing, everybody was catching waves,” says Gee. “Every kid is smiling, and the rest of the day, everyone was saying, ‘That was the best.’ These are some of the best moments as a family when you all participate together and all find joy in the same thing. That’s what you hope for, I think, as a parent, finding joy together.”
Even when plans change, Gee says being prepared to go with the flow allows the family to turn unplanned problems into spontaneous fun. She recalls a time when the family was flying from Chile to the Falkland Islands when the plane was hit by too much wind and had to turn back.
“So we go back and forth to Chile, end up in the most random hotel in southern Chile in this random town,” Gee tells TODAY.com. “It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I remember still doing all the things for the leprechaun to come to our house.
“Even in the nicest hotel room you can think of, it still creates really special moments,” she continues.
The Gee family spent three years on the road before finding a permanent home in Hawaii in 2018.
Gee says the commute has actually been more difficult now that the trips are shorter.
“For me, it’s actually more difficult, the one-off trips,” says Gee. “They are exhausting, I pack exactly the same for those trips I take for three months of summer vacation… On shorter trips, I feel like I miss the bed, I miss the routine.”
Making a permanent home in Hawaii has allowed her children to attend school regularly and do activities their parents didn’t want them to miss, like sports and dance. Gee says she would love to homeschool, but “it’s not for me.” It took the kids a while to get used to sleeping in the same bed for an extended period, Gee says.
“Our second son Manila, he was on the road from 11 months to 4 years old. He went to bed in a different bed every night,” says Gee. “He was used to sleeping anywhere that was an arrangement for him.”
Her children have settled into a comfortable routine now that they have a home base, Gee says. But they will always continue to travel.
“I wish people would realize there’s more out there … It can actually be affordable if you save up for it,” she says. “And I’ve never had a plan to travel the world. But I’m so grateful to know what’s out there. And the more you see, the more you want to add to your bucket list.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com