Best known for their Instagram handle, Jessica and Garrett Gee (@thebucketlistfamily) traveled full-time to 83 countries with their three young children. They’re here to answer your questions about teaching your kids to seek adventure every day.
Q: How did you have the guts to take your kids to such exotic places when most of us worry about letting ours walk down the block?
Jessica: No matter where you go, you have to listen to your mom instincts. We’ve always been cautious about traveling with the kiddos, and we’re on alert in some areas. There’s so much to gain from getting out there and seeing the world.
Q: How do you recommend teaching kids to be adventurous to parents who can’t afford or don’t have time for tons of travel?
Garrett: Adventure can come at any level and any budget. Be creative and explore your own backyard. If you want to have experiences together as a family, you need to make it a priority.
“I’m incredibly inspired by the Gee family’s spirit of adventure. It makes me smile to think about all the trips I’ll share with Linda and our kids one day.”
Q: Is it easier to travel with infants or older kids?
J: Traveling with babies—two to eight months old—is a breeze! We are in a tough stage right now with our 22-month-old; he’s a wiggly, impatient, and opinionated kid. But he’s learning. Traveling with kids at any age can be tough, especially if they’re not used to it. So we teach them young!
Q: How can I strike a balance between being involved in my child’s life and becoming a helicopter parent?
G: I’ve had to tell myself that their learning and growth are most important. I think it’s important to be involved and always there to keep lines of communication open and have teaching moments along the way. But the kids need to have their own opportunities to experience and learn.
Q: How do you make sure your children are still getting traditional growing-up experiences while on the road?
J: I worry all the time about that. We stopped our full-time travel last fall when my daughter was starting kindergarten. She wants the benefits from a community, and we want that for her, too. Our son Manilla, however, grew up on the road and had a much harder adjustment to home life. So we are learning how to accommodate for each child and their needs. You just work hard to find a good balance for everyone.
Q: How do you handle scary health moments while you’re away from home?
G: We had three accidents that led to stitches—in Thailand and Nepal, and at the Male airport in the Maldives. The key is to have travel insurance that includes medical coverage. It’s no more complicated than running into an accident or incident back at home.
Q: Have any expert parent tips for dealing with cranky kids on planes, trains, or road trips?
J: My biggest tip is to learn to control your emotions, not theirs. Kids will feed off of your energy, so try your hardest to be patient, uplifting, and in control. We also allow them some screen time on the plane—being that they don’t get much of this at home, it’s great when they travel! They also bring games and coloring books to keep them entertained.
Q: How can I get my picky-eater kids to try new cuisines while traveling abroad?
G: We have only one family rule: You have to try everything once!
Q: Why do you think it’s important to extend a life of adventure to your children?
J: Through travel, we hope our children gain a love for our earth and wildlife. We hope they are open-minded and open-hearted to people from other cultures. We hope they gain a love for trying new things. But, most of all, we hope they know that we love them and treasure this time we have to experience the world together.
“Adventure can come at any level and any budget. Be creative and explore your own backyard.”—Garrett Gee
By Christina Izzo | Photographs Courtesy of the Gee Family
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s lifestyle magazine.