The world is getting smaller in some ways, with exotic destinations increasingly in reach for the average traveler. But when you throw in family, things get more difficult — and expensive. The average family spends between $1,000 and $5,000 on travel every year, and the logistics of traveling with children can be daunting. No one knows the challenges of traveling the world with family better than Jessica and Garrett Gee, who famously sold everything they owned to travel the world with their three children — incidentally launching one of the most successful social media brands in the world, the Bucket List Family.
For Jessica and Garrett, miles and points are a huge part of how they make their incredible life happen. They frequently rely on rewards programs to keep their family close. “Most recently we flew my sister and her husband out to visit us in Hawaii on Southwest Airlines using the miles we had saved,” says Jessica. “We don’t see family as often as we would like and I was so happy that I could use the points to help bring them out!”
Tips and tricks
When it comes to saving money and having the most amazing experiences with rewards and loyalty programs, the Gees believe loyalty goes both ways.
“The most important thing to us is finding a brand that we use and love,” they say. “We love Southwest Airlines — we fly them every time we can. Same with Alamo car rental — we use them every time we can. I also think people may be surprised how reasonable booking a trip with a travel agency like Fiji Vacations is — it’s really nice when air, hotels, and some meals are in included. You save a ton in some of those package deals!”
When planning trips with kids, the Gees note that it’s smart to plan ahead. “With kids, we always look for hotels that have suites. We love to have access to a kitchen. And major bonus points if a hotel has a kids club!”
Speaking of the kiddos, the Gees have a secret to ensuring they have a positive attitude despite the stress of traveling. “We let our children pack their own backpacks,” they confide. “Having them pack their own bags gets them excited for the toys/snacks/activities inside on the flight.”
The real reward
The Gees took a huge risk when they dismantled their lives in order to become the Bucket List Family and have the adventure of a lifetime — and that risk has obviously paid off. Aside from having a social media brand that reaches millions of followers, they’ve been all over the world working as travel journalists, and even had a TV show (“Traveling Home”) last year. Leveraging rewards and loyalty programs has helped them strategize their future travel.
“Nowadays, we look to travel somewhere unique,” the Gees explain. “We really enjoy wildlife and seeing animals in their natural habitat. Whether that’s swimming with whales in Tonga, finding dolphins in the Bahamas, or going on safari.”
The Gees stress that you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to give your family the adventure of a lifetime. “There are some great places close to the U.S. that we really love. Turks and Caicos and Bermuda are at the top of the list for families.”
If your family travel dreams range out a little further, though, the Gees say that there are family-friendly destinations all over the world. “If you’re willing to take a long plane ride, we think Thailand, Bali, and Japan are all amazing places to go.”
Wherever you’re planning to go, take some inspiration from the Bucket List Family and plan to bring the kids and use rewards programs to make it a little easier to manage.
Jeff Somers, [email protected]