Careers

He sold an app to Snapchat for $54 million and now makes money traveling the world

It's been two years since Garrett Gee and his wife Jessica (who goes by "Settie") decided to sell all of their belongings, take the $45,000 in proceeds and begin traveling the world with their two young children.

They made the decision to pack up and leave their home in Utah in 2015, a year after Gee sold the mobile-scanning app he co-founded to Snapchat. The deal, valued at $54 million at the time, gave Gee and his family a hefty financial cushion.

And yet, after traveling through 45 countries on 150 flights, the family hasn't spent any of the money earned from the sale. Garrett, Jessica and their two children, 4-year-old Dorothy and 2-year-old Manilla, have been traveling the globe earning money as "The Bucket List Family."

"It's been two years," Gee tells CNBC Make It in a Skype interview from a hotel in San Francisco. "We're still going."

Garrett Gee and his wife Jessica "Settie" sold most of their belongings in order to travel the globe.
Source: The Bucket List Family Instagram
Garrett Gee and his wife Jessica "Settie" sold most of their belongings in order to travel the globe.

The couple documents their adventures on their blog and social media accounts, and works with different brands to create sponsored content and partnerships.

"Initially we were funding our travels from selling all of our belongings," Gee says. "But during our travels, we would document everything on YouTube and Instagram, as travel journalists, you could say. And that began to make us money."

Their journey across the world wasn't supposed to last longer than five or six months. But for Garrett and Jessica, the family's lifestyle is now a full-time career.

Earning money on the road

Since we last spoke, the family has hiked in Switzerland, biked in Amsterdam, visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa, gone on safari in South Africa and swam in the clear water of the Maldives.

The Bucket List Family
The Bucket List Family

Recently, the couple partnered with The Walt Disney Co. and the family stayed in a different Disney resort hotel each day for a month.

They've also secured business partnerships with GoPro, Airbnb, hotels and clothing brands. For a sponsored YouTube video — in which Garrett and Jessica might, say, attend a couples' retreat on an island in French Polynesia, in partnership with Airbnb — the pair charges anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. For a sponsored Instagram post, they earn anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000.

Besides working and traveling, Jessica and Garrett also spend a considerable amount of time volunteering. They raised more than $50,000 to build a school in Nepal that helps combat human trafficking of young girls.

How they make it work

While some might say the couple is on an "endless vacation," Gee says it's still work.

"We balance the work between us," he says. "My wife does most of the planning and coordinating and making sure our itinerary is put together. And I do most of the creative work — the videos, editing and the photography."

Though the couple has had "some difficult times" working and raising a family together while on the road, he says that their different skills make them compatible as co-workers, partners and parents.

"We travel full time but that doesn't mean we are on vacation full time," Jessica writes in a blog post. "We have a routine that we try to stick to everywhere we go."

That routine includes waking up at the same time every day (approximately 7 a.m. in whatever time zone they happen to be in), homeschooling the kids during the late morning, exploring during the afternoon and working in the evenings.

The biggest challenge of working like this, says Gee, is "poor Wi-Fi."

"My work desk, if you want to call it that, is different every time we visit a new country," he says. "Sometimes it's on a boat, sometimes it's on a beautiful beach and then sometimes it's in a city at a crazy cafe. I kind of just soak it in and made sure that's part of the fun of it."

Those occasional challenges, Gee says, are 100 percent worth it for the experiences his family is having.

"I almost feel like I cheated at life and I don't have to work a day," he says, "because I love what I do."

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