After we brought you the story of a travel fantasy come to life, it went monster viral. Let’s recap the tale that resonated so intensely: Utah dad Garrett Gee sold an app for $54 million. He put the big bucks in the bank, sold all of his belongings, and set out on a global journey with his wife and two young kids, blogging and updating social media under the name The Bucket List Family. Well, we caught up with Garrett for an update on what life is like now that he and his family are big-time Internet famous.
He told Jet Set that the response to his story has been varied. “What we've learned is that the reactions of others are more based on who they are and less about who we are,” he said. “Generally, happy, optimistic people are going to send other positive loving vibes.” Of course, there are plenty of haters too — and plenty of things those haters get wrong. (No shocker there.)
“Most haters don't take the time to understand the full story,” he said. “They just see a headline about $54 million and see pretty pictures of world travels and immediately turn to, ‘Ugh, this spoiled millionaire is just blowing money on an endless vacation around the world.’ Those who know us, or take the time to know our story, understand the amount of hard work that went into earning our financial savings. They know our decision to put that money aside, only use it for humanitarian and service projects, and live a life of minimalistic frugality.”
Indeed, the family banked their millions and are traveling using only the money they earned from selling their material stuff prior to their departure — about $50,000. Ever the entrepreneur, Garrett is monetizing the family’s trip — through their blog, social media, brand partnerships, and other creative experiments — to make money on the road. About six months into their travels, they began to break even. About three months later, they started to turn a profit. (Inspired yet?)
Garrett clarified that he sees his trip as something different from a “vacation” entirely. “Better said, this is a different way of life that places priority in experiences, education, and culture over material things, money, and comfort,” he said. “A vacation is comfortable. Traveling the world full time with two young children to places far outside your comfort zone? Not a vacation!”
To that end, there have been plenty of pitfalls. “I got the Zika virus and I honestly thought I was going to die,” he said. Symptoms included high fever, full body rash, bloodshot eyes, pounding headache, and achy hands and feet. And this all happened to Garrett while the family was on an isolated Caribbean island!
But the most epic moment of the family’s travels so far? Well Garrett said it’s the time he touched the tail of a humpback whale in the ocean! He also said all the family time has been a highlight — “no matter where we are.”
As for the future, they’re not really sure yet what it holds — or whether they’ll return for the kids to experience traditional schooling. “We love traveling so there are countless reasons to continue onward forever,” he said. “However, both my wife and I grew up in very stable consistent environments where we were able to spend time with our best friends and fully participate in school, clubs, sports, and other activities that just aren't possible at such a level if you're living on the road. We both loved our stable upbringings and a large part of us wants to gift that same opportunity to our children.” So the jury’s still out!
While Garrett said he doesn’t view it as necessary to travel with young kids, he said it’s one great way of teaching kids “to be kind, have an open mind, and open heart towards others, and appreciate the beauty of our world.”
But if his family’s travels have inspired other parents who would do the same if they could, Garrett said they should simply go for it — because kids are more adaptable than people may realize.
“If you require your child to sleep on airplane floors, a different crib every month, and eat strange foods, then your child will naturally adapt. It sounds kind of weird but we're proud that we can put some blankets and a pillow into a bathtub and our one-and-a-half-year-old son will be happy and sleep soundly. Is that against some child caring law? If so, we don't do that.”
Right now, the family is stateside again. But in the next six months, the family plans to head to South Korea, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, and then onward into Western Europe.
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