For most people, traveling the world is just something to dream about or put off until after retirement. But for Jessica (30) and Garrett Gee (25), it’s a here-and-now reality, even with their two young children (Dorothy, 3, and Manilla, 1).
The Gees were students at Brigham Young University when Garrett sold his mobile scanning app to Snapchat in 2014 for $54 million. That’s when the Gees decided to invest their earnings, sell everything from their Provo apartment and travel the world with their two little kids.
Since they embarked on their journey one year ago, they’ve taken 61 flights and have visited 28 countries (and counting).
But there’s more on the Gee’s bucket list than hitting up some cool beaches and swimming with whales.
When the Gees were blessed with their newfound wealth and set out on their adventure, they knew they wanted to do something to give back. So, they’ve found ways to serve in every country they’ve visited.
They’ve volunteered at orphanages, they’ve donated anonymously to people in need, they’ve gifted LASIK surgeries, and they’ve surprised families with bucket list trips of their own.
Now, the Gees are raising money to build a school in India in order to fight human trafficking. (Click here for more information.)
We got to ask Jessica some questions about life behind the scenes of her traveling adventure.
UV360: What has been your favorite moment while traveling as a family?
That’s a hard one. My very favorite moments are when my children are playing with kids from other cultures. When we’ve visited schools or orphanages, I’m so happy to see my kids playing with other children of completely different races, religions, languages, backgrounds and cultures. But they love it. I love seeing kids playing, dancing and laughing together without words.
We’ve also been lucky to have some pretty epic moments with wildlife around the world. We’ve dove with the humpbacks, watched giant leatherback turtles lay their eggs and held baby koalas.
UV360: Of the places you’ve traveled together, which place do you most want to go back to?
I’m dying to move back to New Zealand. I’m working on convincing my husband that it should be where we put down our roots. We will see!
UV360: When you got married, is this where you saw yourselves down the road? How are your lives different from what you envisioned?
We’ve been married for 7 1/2 years. While we have always loved travel, we had never ever thought about traveling the world full-time. This very much evolved from our situation after my husband finished school and had sold his company. I never would’ve believed you if you told me that when I turned 30, I’d be traveling the world for a year NON-STOP. It’s super crazy to look back on this last year. Honestly, I’m proud of myself for doing something so adventurous and out-of-the-box.
UV360: Have you both always had the travel bug?
Garrett grew up traveling the world with his mom, who is a travel journalist. My family’s favorite destination was Walt Disney World.
UV360: What are your next travel plans and goals?
We will be in Europe the rest of the year. We hope to continue to experience new cultures, learn new skills and serve people all over.
UV360: How long do you intend to travel before “settling down?” Any idea where you want to end up?
That is the question! We have the rest of 2016 scheduled, and a few stops for 2017. I imagine we’ll try to find somewhere to put down some roots and then continue to travel as much as possible, even after the kids start school.
UV360: What has this experience done for your marriage and for your children?
When we started this, it was pretty much a family vacation. Now it’s sort of a family business. We always try to remind ourselves that our marriage and family are most important. I feel so incredibly blessed that Garrett has been able to spend so much time with us. Most young dads don’t get to spend 24/7 with their kids.
UV360: What has the most challenging thing been about your traveling experience?
The most challenging part for me has been missing that sense of community you get from having a permanent home. I miss having a group of girlfriends, I miss being a member of a ward and I miss being around my extended family.
UV360: What would you go back and tell yourself when you were embarking on this journey?
Good question. I’d tell myself to enjoy every second. To really soak in each and every stop. We travel so much so quickly that we often don’t have time to reflect a ton on each spot. I’m glad that we have done such a great job of documenting our travels on social media. Those videos and pictures of our travels are priceless.