(CNN) --

Except for a specific trip to Europe, the farthest Jessica Gee traveled during her childhood was to Walt Disney World, in Florida, with her family.


However, over the past eight years, the travel influencer, known as "The Bucket List Mom," has visited more than 90 different countries with her entrepreneur husband Garrett and their three children Dorothy, Manilla and Calihan.

"I never had the idea in my brain of 'I want to travel around the world,'" Gee, of Denver, Colorado, tells CNN Travel.

"It never crossed my mind. But the more I go out, the more I want to see."

According to Gee, everything changed when her husband, whom she met during a church service mission in Vladivostok, Russia, sold his app to Snapchat for $54 million in 2014 and decided to quit his desk job.

A unique opportunity

Jessica and Garrett met in Russia and have been married for almost 15 years.

Credit: Garrett Gee/National Geographic

"We were in a weird situation that maybe not a lot of 20-somethings get into," Gee admits.

"We had a new estate and we didn't know what to do. So we decided to put everything aside and see what was out there in the world."

The couple, married since 2009, wanted to get to know other cultures and "learn a little."

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"We still felt very young and naive," adds Gee.

They soon began planning a long trip through Southeast Asia and decided to start an Instagram page, The Bucket List Family, to compile their adventures.

“I honestly think it was Garrett's creative skills and my marketing background that came together,” explains Gee, who studied advertising in college.

"Now I do it with my own life."

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After putting the purchase money into savings, they sold their furniture and most of their belongings, raising around US$45,000, and set out to travel the world with Dorothy and Manilla. Callihan was born while they were traveling, in August 2015.

They had initially planned to spend a few months traveling, visiting Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia, as well as the Pacific islands Fiji and Tonga, but after briefly returning to the United States, they decided they wanted to continue.

"The little trip turned into three years full-time," adds Gee, who just published a travel guide, The Bucket List Family Travel, in collaboration with National Geographic.

The family visited dozens of countries around the world, including Germany, Morocco, Japan, Brazil, Guatemala and Dominica.

Family favorites

This family of five has traveled to more than 90 countries.

Credit: Garrett Gee/National Geographic

Gee includes Belize among his top "family" destinations, describing the Central American country as a good "starter destination" for U.S.-based families who aren't ready to venture too far.

He also recommends "amazing" Alaska for those seeking outdoor adventures for their children.

"You have the fishing, the wildlife, the whales and the bears," he says.

"It's ideal for slightly older children, ages five and up. But I took my two-year-old son and he had a great time."

Gee was also very impressed with Rwanda in East Africa, a destination she did not want to visit because of her preconceptions.

"I had seen Hotel Rwanda and that was all I knew," he explains.

"I was nervous and scared. And it ended up being the most life-changing destination for me."

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After spending so much time on the move, Gee is used to long trips and actually finds them easier than shorter ones, explaining that she often feels exhausted after taking a week's vacation.

"When I travel for a month or more, I get used to the routine," he says, adding that he packs about the same amount of stuff whether he's traveling for a month, six months or a fortnight.

She spent her entire third pregnancy "living out of a suitcase" before welcoming her son Calihan in 2018.

"I didn't realize the toll flying takes on your body," Gee says.

"So it got worse [because of my pregnancy]."

"Maybe it was also because it was my first pregnancy over 30, but my back and body hurt.


But at the same time, we went to so many places in those nine months that I loved them."

A big adventure

Gee says that when it comes to traveling with young children, choosing "the best attitude" is key.

Credit: Garrett Gee/National Geographic

Gee makes sure her kids feel involved in her travel plans before she heads out anywhere, having them help pack their backpacks, while framing everything, even a long-haul flight, as a "big adventure."

"As soon as they sit on the plane, they are excited to take out the toy, book and snack they packed in their suitcase," he explains.

According to Gee, one of the best ways to make traveling with young children as painless as possible is to "choose the best attitude."

"Children feed 100% on the attitude of their parents," he says.

"So when things are tiring, exhausting and stressful, you just have to cheer up and be positive. Because if you're in a bad mood, so are they."

Although she tries to plan every aspect of her trips, including scheduling flights during nap times and making sure her luggage is packed, Gee has learned from experience to always have a backup plan.

"Things can go wrong," he says.

"You lose your luggage or a flight gets cancelled. Those are setbacks. Having to deal with that and the kids and their needs has always been the hardest."

The Bucket List Family's Instagram account has amassed nearly three million followers over the years, and they have since launched successful YouTube and TikTok accounts, with revenue earned from partnerships with different companies helping to fund their trips.

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Gee recognizes that her situation is unique and that there are many parents who cannot afford to travel around the world with their children.

In "The Bucket List Family Travel," she gives money-saving tips, such as home swaps and budgeting apps, and encourages families to figure out what they want to do travel-wise and then try to "make it affordable."

"A lot of times it's just a matter of finding a national park and camping or hiking," he says.

"Or see if you can work hard enough to earn some time away for an extended period."

The Gee family includes "service" among their travel goals, and they do their best to incorporate activities like volunteering at an orphanage into their trips.

"Travel is often a selfish endeavor. Taking the time to look outside yourself and your own family and see who you can serve locally will be a great blessing," Gee writes.

After three years of being on the move full-time, the family of five returned to the United States, and bought a bungalow in Hawaii, in 2018.

Changing wish list

Gee says his family's extensive travels have brought them closer together.

Credit: Garrett Gee/National Geographic

"The one thing we miss when we're traveling is the community," Gee says.

"We missed friends and family, and we wanted our kids to play sports and experience it. So we decided to settle down and try to have the best of both worlds."

Since then they have continued to travel as a family, and recently spent an entire summer in Africa.

But staying in one place for a long time has proven to be something of an adjustment for her children, especially her son Manilla, who was about 11 months old when they first set out on the trip.

"I was used to sleeping in a different bed every night or every other night [when we got back]," he explains.

"So every night he slept in a different room in the house. It was a strange adjustment for him to know that we weren't going to the airport and that we were staying at home."

Although Gee tries her best to schedule her trips during school holidays, there are occasional exceptions, such as an upcoming visit to Antarctica.

"We have reinforcement classes so they don't lose their rhythm," he says.

"And we take their schoolwork with us.


And even during the summer, when they don't have homework, we take those extra books and try to make it exciting for them."

According to Gee, the family's list of things to do has changed over the years as they have all become big wildlife fans, so things like seeing "pandas in China" and "orangutans in Borneo" They have moved to the top positions.

"What I like to do most with my family is go on safari," he adds.

"We've done it a handful of times. But for me there's nothing better than being in an environment where something new happens every day. You wake up and you don't know what you're going to see, and then you see these animals and life." wild and how everyone lives together and depends on each other. It sounds so cheesy, but it's literally the circle of life. Living it and witnessing it with my family is beautiful."

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Gee advises other parents eager to travel more with their children to try to get out of their comfort zone and "go exploring," whether that's "one week a year or a lifetime."

"I think the more you go out and experience things, the more your bucket list grows," Gee says.


"I think a lot of American families have their vacations that they go on. For me it was Disney World. And I love Disney World, don't get me wrong. But [it's important] to be able to go out and see the world and realize that there's so much more there out".

This story was originally published on February 8, 2024 and has been updated this Sunday, February 11