Need a Vacation? The Instagram-Famous Bucket List Family is Gifting 12 Trips of a Lifetime
Utah's beloved Bucket List Family are gifting 12 dream vacations (including Disney!) as part of their annual 12 Days of Bucket List Christmas
Looking to win the trip of a lifetime? The Bucket List Family has you covered!
The Gee Family, better known as The Bucket List Family to their 1.9 million Instagram followers, are kicking off their annual 12 Days of Bucket List Christmas — a dream vacation gifting spree for twelve lucky families — as a way of giving back to their devoted fans.
The tradition started back in 2015 — the year that the family first made headlines, after Snapchat bought dad Garrett’s mobile scanning app for $54 million and he and his wife, Jessica, decided to put the money in their savings, sell all of their possessions and use the income from that to travel the world with their two kids, Dorothy, now 7, and Manilla, now 5. (They’ve since welcomed a third, baby Calihan, 22 months.)
The family has traveled to over 78 countries together and documented all their adventures on social media.
“The question that started it all is when my wife and I asked ourselves, ‘What is the most special gift that anyone has ever given us?’” Garrett tells PEOPLE of how they began their gifting tradition. That first year, they decided it was the gift of sight, and they ultimately surprised seven people with Lasik eye surgery.
They’ve asked themselves the same question every year, and agree that the greatest gift their family has received is the ability to travel. “That’s inspired us to pay it forward and share this gift with other people, especially people who would not have the opportunity otherwise,” Garrett says. “These families all around the world, many of them have never left their hometown. For them, most of the time it’s truly a once in a lifetime [opportunity].”
This year, the 12 Days of Bucket List Christmas includes twelve trips to dream destinations that the Gee Family have visited. The trips range from an African safari in Tanzania, to an all-inclusive Disney vacation, to a stay at a castle in Ireland or at the celebrity-favorite luxury resort Soneva Fushi in the Maldives (where Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner celebrated their honeymoon this summer). Other wanderlust-inducing destinations include the Cook Islands; Fiji; their home state of Utah, Banff in Canada, Bermuda, Belize, a private island in Zanzibar and a European getaway with Norwegian Air.
“This isn’t a sweepstakes,” Garrett explains, noting that the winners aren’t chosen through “random selection,” but rather through careful consideration. “This is something that we very thoughtfully and mindfully read through every submission that we receive, talk about it between us and really give it some special care before we make a decision.”
The entry process is unique, as individuals can nominate themselves, but more often nominate other friends or family members.
“That’s really fun because then if we select them, then we have the person who nominated them and knows them kind of act as our accomplice, and they help us surprise them,” Garrett says. “It’s honestly one of my wife and I’s very favorite things to do — it’s just the most special thing ever,” he adds of the heartwarming reveals, which they often travel to do in person.
Each trip has a specific entry requirement: In addition to the typical procedure of following The Bucket List Family and any of the trip providers involved on Instagram, tagging them in your post and filling out a contact information or nomination form, there’s a request to share your story (or the story of the person you’re nominating) in order for the Gees to select a particularly deserving family.
If you’re entering for the Disney trip, for instance — which includes four roundtrip flights with Southwest Airlines, a 5-night stay at the Walt Disney World Swan for 2 adults and 2 kids, Park Hopper tickets for the family and a $1000 Disney gift card — you’ll simply need to post a photo or video on Instagram about family. The suggested prompt on their website reads, “What would you like us to know about your family? Do you have a fun family tradition? What do you love most about your family? If you’re nominating a family, please tell us why ?.”
Doing acts of service has been a focus for the Gees since they first set out on their world-wide journey — they do at least one on every stop, such as volunteering — and getting to pay it forward with these trips has become something they look forward to every year.
“I’ve been converted to the beauty of service,” Garrett tells PEOPLE, which he says was initially sparked by his wife’s natural tendency towards helping others, and has grown as they’ve traveled together. “You serve one person and it feels good, you serve another person and you see the impact it has on their life, and then over time it starts to become a part of who you are.”
When it comes to the 12 Days of Bucket List Christmas, one of the best parts for the Gees is hopefully inspiring that same passion for giving back — to others as well as to the earth — in the trip recipients. “What I do love about exposing these places and sharing them with our audience is everyone who sees them just grows such an appreciation and respect for our planet,” Garrett says. “When you gain admiration for our planet, then you want to take better care of it, so that’s just a really good outcome of these trips and our Instagram.”