3 min
October 16, 2022

Bucket List Family Goals

Approaching motherhood is both exciting and scary. It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that my husband and I are creating an actual living human being. 

As we prepare for this incredible journey, I have a vision for what type of parent I’d like to be. I hope to provide encouragement and support in all that he does. I hope to instill kindness and empathy toward others. I hope to let him find his own way and make his own mistakes. I hope to create an environment that cultivates creativity and play.  

I hope I don’t mess it all up! There are so many books and so much advice out there for new parents, but when it comes to a visual role model for parenting, my North Star is The Bucket List Family. 

The Bucket List Family is made up of husband and wife, Garrett and Jessica Gee, along with their daughter, Dorothy, and two sons, Manila and Calihan. The family documents and shares their travel adventures through Instagram, YouTube, and a blog

As a freshman in college in 2014, Garrett and two of his buddies created an app called Scan that they eventually sold to Snapchat for over $50 million. Garrett joined Snapchat for one year before he and Jessica made a decision that would change the course of their lives. 

With their then two kids, the couple decided to sell all of their belongings and travel the world for six months on only that money ($45,000). As for the Snapchat money, that was put into savings. 

Fast forward to 2020 and The Bucket List Family has 2.4 million followers on Instagram and close to one million subscribers on YouTube. They’ve recently created a home base in Hawaii and have a new show on the Home Love Network called Traveling Home.

Routine and Education

Prior to a homebase in Hawaii, Jessica explains a typical day: “We have a routine that we try to stick to everywhere we go. That includes waking up at the same time every day (approximately 7 a.m. in whatever time zone they happen to be in), homeschooling the kids during the late morning, exploring during the afternoon and working in the evenings.”

I can relate. Routine is everything. When I don’t wake up in my own bed by 7:30am, drink Joe’s coffee with Oatly milk, and sit at my desk to write and/or learn for a few hours, I get cranky. Why should kids be any different? 

And even though my husband, Sam, and I will not be constantly traveling the world, we are strongly considering homeschooling so that our son can follow his interests, learn at his own pace, develop healthy sleep habits, and actually enjoy the process of learning instead of regurgitating information. 

The older Gee children are in private school now (Cali’s only 2-years-old), but Jessica and Garrett still like to supplement their own education and creativity for their children. They talk about one such homeschooling tool in the 45-second clip below and it’s adorable to see the kids engage with fun projects.

(Just press the ‘play button’ and it will automatically play the abbreviated clip!)

Minimalism and Personal Finance

Constant travel provides a learning experience for the kids by way of frugality. Garrett says, “We pack so light and live so minimalistic that we can't really spend money on things." 

Only one toy is allowed for travel, so the kids have to be very selective. Jessica says, “The kids know that if they want a toy they have to earn their money for it and it has to fit in their backpack.”

Sam and I are frugal by nature, and he works in finance so he pays extra attention to details. We live a fairly minimalist lifestyle, except for the attic full of Christmas decorations that I CANNOT live without. Besides that, we’re on the same page with our finances.

Garrett and Jessica are on the same page, too. They’ve agreed not to touch their savings. "It is being safely saved and invested. I plan to live as if it doesn't exist and, in a way, start over," Garrett said. "I'm young, and I want to keep my hardworking entrepreneurial spirit alive and well. I don't want to get comfortable. I don't want to settle down.”

If they ever did touch their money, it would be for the good of their children and for others. This is evident in their volunteer work. Garrett and Jessica have raised more $50,000 to build a school in Nepal that helps combat human trafficking of young girls. 

Okay, that’s a high bar. Sam and I would like to start small and find different hands-on volunteer services in our area where we can participate as a family. 

Gratitude and Diversity

Jessica and Garrett have a one-gift rule for birthdays. ONE PRESENT. (You hear that, Mom and Mother-in-law??) That certainly makes the gift super special. 

I recently spent Christmas at my in-laws. Kids were everywhere and I couldn’t see through the sea of ripped wrapping paper. So, so many gifts. I witnessed my nephew not even finish opening his present before moving on to the next one. It was horrifying. These kids got so many presents. It was too much. There’s absolutely no way for them to appreciate the actual gift or who it was from. 

I love the 48-second clip below because the kids enjoy giving presents just as much as - if not more than - they enjoy receiving presents. It’s also worth noting that there’s a completely reasonable amount of gifts to be open. That’s to say, less than 10 per kid.

While traveling is great for instilling frugal habits, Garrett emphasizes the importance of exposure to different cultures:

“Any chance we can, we put them in schools or get them involved in orphanages. We're very, very grateful that our kids have been exposed to the different nationalities and cultures and races, and especially with kids their own age. So when they see other kids, no matter the race or the background, there is no difference, they are always looking to make new friends.”

My only gripe about our small town in North Carolina is that it is predominately white, so it’s important that we find other ways to expose our children to as many cultures and races as we can through travel, extra curricular activities, and volunteering.

Independence and Respect

My favorite part of the Gees’ typical day is “exploring during the afternoon.” They take this to another level with their amazing outdoor adventures, but they also let the kids do their thing. By that I mean, they’re not helicopter parents. 

I really don’t want to be a helicopter parent - someone who is constantly monitoring my child’s every move and gasping when he falls over or hits his head. Unfortunately, I find myself extremely nervous around my sister-in-law’s two boys, ages 4 and 7. They’re running around the kitchen with the oven open or about to fall off a high bar stool and their mom is completely oblivious! 

Or maybe she’s not. Maybe I just have to trust that they’ll be okay. If one of them burns his hand or hits his head, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s a learning experience. Kids are resilient. I need to treat them that way.

But more than allowing them to be independent, Jessica and Garrett treat the kids with respect. In this 73-second clip, Garrett leaves Dorothy and Manila alone with some brand new gadget that looks quite expensive. As soon as Garrett leaves the room, I think that any other parent’s last words would be, “Don’t touch anything until I get back,” but instead, Garrett says, “You guys figure it out.”  

Love and Positivity

What’s ever-present in everything that Garrett and Jessica do, is love. They have bottomless love and kindness for Dorothy, Manila, and Calihan, and it’s not something one can understand from reading a book or listening to audio. It can only be seen in the little things that they do and the way they interact with their kids.

The most absolute precious example of this occurs during a ski trip. I just adore Garrett’s pride and enthusiasm for Dorothy and Manila in this 75-second clip. “Dorothy! You are the future!… Oh my gosh, she’s the best human.”

Finally, I have a fear of flying, just like I have many fears about parenting. If there’s anything that The Bucket List Family has taught me, it’s to have a positive outlook. 

From Garrett:

“When one person in the family is sour, it can turn so fast. So, especially the parents: be happy, positive and don’t get stressed! Kids and spouses feed off of your energy, so you’ve gotta suck it up and try to enjoy travel days.” 

The Bucket List Family has a ritual every time they get on a plane. They will either directly kiss the plane, or kiss their hand and then touch the plane. It’s shown numerous times in many videos, but the following 50-second clip is my favorite because the kids are so happy, the music is uplifting, and the scene is breathtaking.

I like to use this clip for visualization. Every time I walk onto a plane, I think, “The Bucket List Family does this all the time. They are so happy. And alive. I can do this. Be The Bucket List Family.”

If Sam and I can emulate any of Jessica and Garrett’s parenting skills, I will be one happy mama.