We love traveling with our littles, but let’s be real — there are certainly challenges that come with doing so. So, when we first heard about a family that travels not for a week at a time, but one that has been traveling 24/7 for the past two years, we were so impressed that we just had to learn more. The Bucket List Family’s Jessica Gee, husband Garrett, and two adorable babes Dorothy and Manilla call the world their ‘home’, and have been leading the jet-setter life since 2015 when the couple returned from five months abroad and decided they just couldn’t stop traveling. In the third installment of our Supergoop! Series, we caught up with Jessica, while in South Africa to talk about what it’s like to be a full-time traveler mama, their journeys and dream destinations, and how they keep the little ones occupied on the way. Read on…
How did your family get started on your travel life?
Garrett and I loved to travel even before we had kids. But our full-time travels started when we were at a crossroads in our lives. Garrett had finished school and was playing collegiate soccer. He also had recently sold a company he started while in college. We weren’t sure where we wanted to settle down and how we wanted to set up our lives, so we thought a 5-month trip would give us a little more insight about what’s out there and what we wanted for the future. After those first 5 months, we returned “home” (our parents’ house) for Christmas and decided we were really enjoying ourselves and wanted to continue. 22 months and 40 countries later, we are still going.
22 months and 40 countries later, we are still going.
Do you travel all year or do you keep a home base somewhere?
No home base for now. Our mailing address and a few boxes are at my sister’s house. That’s all for now.
You’ve been traveling since 2015…You must have to keep your bags light on global travels with family! What are some things that you must have in your bag at all times? What are your travel staples for you and the kids?
We’ve slowly mastered the art of packing for us. We know exactly what we need and what we don’t need. We don’t pack car seats or baby cribs. We buy diapers as we go. Our kids each have their own mini backpacks that fit their toys. They have to carry their backpacks on and off the plane so they can’t be too heavy. They have to pick their favorite toys and leave behind anything that doesn’t fit. My daughter loves her princesses and Play-Doh, and Manilla loves his cars and trains. We’ve loved the Babyzen YoYo+ Compact Travel Stroller. We can fit both of our kids in there and it packs up so small into the overhead bin on a plane. We also try to continue to focus on our health during our travels, so we have protein powders, supplements and some fitness bands.
Do you have any favorite sun accessories for your kids?
We have a big (but wraps up small) beach blanket that is a world map. We’ve had it with us since the beginning of our travels. We bring it out on almost all of our adventures. It works as our beach blanket, towel and blanket.
You spend so much time outside while traveling around the world. How do you feel confident your kids are protected from the sun?
It’s a big wide world out there. How do you decide where to go next?
We started off with a few places/events on our bucket list. For example, Garrett wanted to swim with the humpback whales in Tonga in August, and I wanted to go to the Lantern Festival in Thailand in November. We filled in the rest of our travels with other amazing places nearby. Actually, the more we travel, the longer our bucket list has become. We’re always hearing about new amazing places and things we want to experience.
What has been your absolute favorite travel experience with the family?
Most recently we did a safari in Africa. That had been on my list for a very long time and I was really looking forward to it. The whole experience was just incredible. I loved experiencing the absolute beauty of the world and its incredible creatures with the whole family. Our first game drive as a family was one I’ll always remember, as we were all so happy and grateful to be there together.
Any funny travel #fails you care to share?
A lot of our travel #fails are not so funny at the time, but looking back we can have a good laugh. Chasing down bullet trains in Japan, leaving our luggage at security 3 times in a row, booking a rental car in the wrong city, popping a tire in London traffic…stuff like that.
“Traveling so much we spend tons of time outside so the efficacy of sunscreen is really important to me. The kids need to be protected at all times, so we’ve been using the Everyday Sunscreen to keep them safe while they are having a blast.
What do you think has been the biggest takeaway or learning experience from your travels?
For me, my greatest takeaway is that I can do hard things. This is such a non-conventional way to live for such a long time. If someone told me 5 years ago that I’d be a full-time traveler with my two kids living out of a suitcase, I never would have believed them! But I’m so happy and proud of myself that I’ve done something so adventurous, unique and hard, and that I’m enjoying it. I’m really proud of myself and our little family.
Do you have a family mantra or something that personifies your tribe?
Something we say all the time is: “You don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.” We all try to get outside of our comfort zone at times and try new foods or activities that may be different to us. We’ve all learned to love things that we weren’t necessarily expecting.
You guys spend so much time together as a family. Any tips for keeping the peace when there’s a rainy day and you’re all stuck inside together?
We still try to get outside even if we have to swim in the rain. The kids really need some sort of physical activity each day. There have been some days where we just have a dance party in the house, but we always try to do something active.
Do you have any advice for mamas looking to keep their little ones entertained while traveling?
The kids pack and carry their own backpacks. They pack their backpacks with the toys they choose and the snacks they choose. That way, they are excited and look forward to what they have chosen to do and eat on a flight. And, of course, we always have a charged iPad and some melatonin gummies if we need them.