Young parents Settie and Garrett Gee made a drastic change in August 2015. The couple sold their belongings and set out on a journey across the world with their children Dorothy and Manilla.
Fast forward to the present, the Gee family is still seeing just how much the world has to offer and sharing their experiences along the way via their blog, YouTube, and Instagram. They’ve won the hearts of more than a million people across social media and are popularly referred to as “The Bucket List Family.”
As they continue to make their mark on online video, the Gee family is doing so with positivity and humor. We sat down with Settie to discuss the family’s travels to date, the process of building a YouTube channel, and how to navigate influencer partnerships.
1. What triggered your monumental decision to sell your home and embark on a journey across the world?
We were at a stage in our lives where most families around us were buying homes and buying cars and focusing on their careers. That “norm” just didn’t feel right for us. We weren’t quite ready to “grow up”. 😉
So we came up with a plan to take us around the world. It was a bucket list of countries that we wanted to visit. Our thought was, perhaps what we learn from other cultures around the world will help us know what we should do next in life.
2. How did you develop an interest in filmmaking and YouTube?
My husband Garrett has always enjoyed taking pictures and capturing family videos. He doesn’t consider himself a professional, he just really loves journaling and saving memories.
I’ve loved watching him passionately working hard to become better and better throughout our travels. Our family photos and videos are our greatest treasures.
3. What are the biggest challenges that come along with raising Dorothy and Manilla on camera? The biggest rewards?
There really haven’t been too many negatives to our lifestyle. We aren’t like most YouTube vloggers. Especially those that vlog daily. Garrett acts much more like a regular father that only takes out his camera during special moments, events, or adventures. It works for us because we only post to our YouTube once a week each Sunday.
The benefit has most definitely been having video footage of our children growing up and experiencing amazing things around the world. Our family photos and videos truly are our greatest family treasures.
4. How has your content style evolved since you launched your channel in 2015?
It’s really funny to look back at our first video, “WEEK 1 from Provo, Utah.” It was short and choppy and very unprofessional. Now, we’re on week 95!
Our videos have become longer and although they still have a “handmade home video” feel, they are definitely much more professional and higher quality. We knew this would be a lot of work, but we understood one of the most important things to become successful on YouTube would be sticking to it and not giving up. We’re almost to WEEK 100!
5. What are the three most important factors in making an engaging travel video?
For us, the most important thing is capturing the special stories during our travels week to week. There are plenty of pretty videos on the internet. There are plenty of resources that can tell you “TOP 10 THINGS TO DO” in each country. So for us, the thing that makes us most unique is us!
It’s cool to share our kids first day of school in an orphanage in Bali. It’s special to share how Manilla learned his animal sounds while on Safari in Africa! It’s amazing to watch Dorothy overcome her fears and swim in the ocean with SHARKS!
6. What has been the biggest surprise of your career?
The biggest surprise and perhaps the most important lesson, that we have learned during our journey around the world is this: The world is a good place!
So much of the media shines a negative light on the world. Sometimes the media can focus too much on war, anger, drama, and other negatives. But as we have traveled we have discovered the truth: The world is a good place full of good people. Evil is the minority. Goodness is the majority.
7. How do you choose which brands to partner with, and how do you ensure that sponsored integrations fit in naturally with your content?
We’re very picky about what brands we work with because we want to make sure our community knows we’re authentic. The trust of our followers is important and we want to bring them value through the products, services, and brands that we share with them.
Because of that, many of the brands that we work with are those that we proactively reach out to. Brands like Southwest Airlines, GoPro, Teva, Thule, Airbnb, and others.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring travel influencers?
Figure out what makes you unique and emphasize it. Don’t just be another pretty social media page sharing beautiful photos. Be YOU!
9. Lightning round:
Three-word travel tips that everyone must know?
Enjoy the journey! Travel with friends! Pack extra light!
What are you most excited about right now?
We have baby number three coming soon! It will be an adventure to continue our travels with a newborn!
Favorite city you’ve visited?
Manilla: The airport
Instagram or Snapchat Stories?
10. How do you hope The Bucket List Family develops in the future? Any forthcoming projects that your fans should be aware of?
When we initially left our home, our goal was to learn from other cultures and then find a home somewhere new. We still hope to someday find a home and settle down a bit.
We will definitely continue to travel our entire lives, but we want a place to call home and send our children to school, gymnastics, soccer, and more benefits that come from having a little bit of stability. Not too much stability though. Just a little bit 😉
11. Anything else to add?
Charity and humanitarian work is a big part of our travels. Each new place we visit we do our best to connect with a non-profit, a charitable service project, or sometimes just a local family that we may be able to serve and help.
Follow our journey on social media!
This interview has been edited for clarity.