Their passports are full of stamps, their frequent flier miles are at record highs and they have the art of packing their carry-ons down to a science.
Now, just in time for the beginning of summer, Garrett and Jessica Gee are celebrating a new milestone: They just crossed off trip No. 100 in almost two years of traveling the world as “The Bucket List Family” with their two kids, Dorothy, 4, and Manilla, 2.
“For me, a big part of this journey was to have the opportunity to spend more quality time with my children,” Garrett, 27, a former high-tech entrepreneur from Provo, Utah, tells PEOPLE. With his family now settling in for a three-week stay in South Africa, “I feel very lucky,” he says. “It feels like every day is Father’s Day.”
First profiled by PEOPLE two years ago when they were four months into their decision to sell everything they owned and see the world, the Gees are now giving their adventures a humanitarian twist.
The family recently started a new charity project called Pin Pals, enabling those who follow their “bucket list” travels to purchase custom pins from each country they visit and contribute to the family’s volunteer efforts around the world.
“Serving others is something we do to help out in each place we visit,” Jessica, 31, tells PEOPLE. “Sometimes, they are big fundraisers, while other times, they are small anonymous donations. We’re a full-time, traveling family, but it’s important to give back.”
It was 2015 when Garrett, then a student and soccer player at Brigham Young University, sold his mobile scanning app to Snapchat for $54 million, leaving him and Jessica to wonder: “What should we do next?”
“A new house and cars didn’t feel right,” he told PEOPLE at the time. “We didn’t need that stuff. We were young, healthy and really didn’t need much of anything. So we started joking about putting our money in savings, selling everything and using those funds to travel the world. As we began to add more plans to our bucket list, it just became real.”
We made it!! We snagged the kids 😉 and made the short journey back to the mainland of Greece, to a beautiful coastal town called Costa Navarino!! 💛🇬🇷💛 @costanavarino @westincostanavarino /// #family #bucketlist #greece #costanavarino #blog #travel #vlog /// @beautifuldestinations @theglobewanderer @manillagee @dorothyseven @garrettgee
After holding a giant yard sale and unloading everything except two boxes of photos and journals, the Gees headed to the South Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia.
Almost two years later, they’ve now visited more than 40 countries, from Anguilla to Qatar, filling albums with unique memories along the way.
Garrett went diving with sperm whales in Dominica, while Dorothy learned to snorkel in Fiji and attended her first day of pre-school in Bali. A few days ago, she climbed into a cage and observed great white sharks in cold waters off South Africa.
“The boat captain said she was the youngest ever to get in,” says Jessica. “It’s fun to see her and Manilla get better and better at learning from each new culture that we visit. They’re great at making new friends and trying new foods, and they board each flight by themselves and find their row. It’s quite cute and other passengers get a kick out of these two babies who act like travel professionals.”
Today is the day!! We've been waiting to share this with you.. A couple months ago a company hired @garrettgee and @dorothyseven to be in their next commercial! They traveled to the desert canyons of Arizona for the 3 day video shoot. Dorothy just thought it was a really long and really awesome daddy-dottie date! 😘 But we're not allowed to share the video until later today after it goes live! So keep your eye out for this little duo and let us know if you see the commercial! Any guesses what company it is? Hint : Garrett was giddy with excitement when they contacted us because we already had major LOOOVE for this company and use their stuff throughout our family adventures.. 🌎 /// #family #bucketlist #travel #vlog #adventure #culture #service /// @garrettgee @dorothyseven @thebucketlistfamily
Probably the biggest challenge, Jessica tells PEOPLE, is adapting to her childrens’ needs as they grow older.
“Dorothy now wants to go to school and join a soccer team,” she says, “so we wonder, ‘Should we settle down so she can do that? Or try to find schools and soccer teams along the way?’ We’re not sure.”
Manilla, who says that his favorite country thus far is “the airport,” is currently potty training, which adds to the challenge of raising two young children whose passports are covered with stamps.
“I’m quite proud of our little family to have been on 100 flights together,” says Jessica. “When we first started doing this, I was terrified of flights and I constantly worried about the kids. But now, they’re doing so well that I’m able to relax and read a book.”
The family’s next stop after Africa will be Iceland, says Garrett, followed by Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
We made it! ❤️❤️❤️ 24 hours ago we were in Switzerland and now we're posting this from Los Angeles, California!! BIG THANKS to @flyswiss for the safe enjoyable journey!! ❤️❤️❤️ /// #flyswiss #family #bucketlist #switzerland #adventure #travel #vlog /// @flyswiss @garrettgee @dorothyseven @thebucketlistfamily
“In each of those places, we’ll be living in Airbnb rental homes to get a feel for what it’s like to actually live there,” he tells PEOPLE. “It’s been wonderful to step outside our comfort zones.”
“Probably the biggest challenge is leaving a place after we have fallen in love with the culture and met new friends,” he says. “We really don’t like saying goodbye so much.”