Donnie Tuttle laughs, while talking with his wife, Chris, about some of the adventures they have had while transitioning to a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. The two got rid of virtually everything they owned and moved with seven of their eight children across the country to Maine. They plan to continue moving every three months to explore the country.

The Tuttle family in front of their short-term rental house in Rumford. The seven children and their parents plan to move every three months to explore the country and live intentionally. In the front row are Kole, 11, and Ana, 8; second row, Galen, 12, Tsavah, 17, Justin, 22, Shiloh, 14 and Ephraim, 9. Parents Donnie and Chis are standing in the back.

Galen and Chris Tuttle shoot baskets in a family game of knockout at a park in Rumford as Ephraim, Justin, Donnie and Ana watch and wait their turns. Tsavah walks back to get in line. In the distance, Galen works on his skateboarding. The family tries to take advantage of everything the areas they live in have to offer.

RUMFORD — Donnie Tuttle, his wife, Chris, and seven of their eight children hit the road in March, leaving Gainesville, Florida, in search of adventure and a less-stuff, more-meaning life.

First stop, chosen for its proximity to early American history: Charlestown Beach, Rhode Island.

Second stop, chosen sight-unseen for its nature and a rental that fits nine: Rumford, Maine.


Next might be Utah. Or California. Or Pennsylvania. The children are putting together their best arguments now.

The Tuttles’ plan is to live somewhere for roughly three months, appreciate it to the max, and move on. In doing that, they hope to start the “go live on purpose” movement.

“Sometimes we live with the mentality that everything is always going to be the same: ‘We didn’t do this thing with our family this week, but we’ll do it next week,'” said Donnie Tuttle, 43, a professional sales coach able to work anywhere there’s internet access.

Since the family arrived in Maine on May 6, he’s worked out of Munka on Lisbon Street in Lewiston.

“That window of 90 to 100 days is going to help us see the finiteness of that,” he said. “Those things that you say you’ll always do and you kind of kick it off, ‘Oh, when I get married,’ ‘Oh, when we have kids,’ ‘Oh, when we retire, when the kids are out of the house’ — whatever event that we tie our hopes to, I just wanted to get rid of that.”

Chris, 46, was born in Chile. With a father in the U.S. Navy, she traveled a lot as a child.


Donnie traveled a lot, too, as a child, part of a carnival family. “You know the games you play that you can’t win? That’s what we did, he said.” It made him initially resistant to the idea of shedding everything they owned that couldn’t fit into a Chevrolet Suburban and a minivan and taking off.

Until Christmas 2015.

Donnie Tuttle said that Christmas the couple asked their five boys and three girls, who now range in age from 22 to 8, if they’d prefer gifts or seeing snow for the first time.

“They all unanimously said, ‘Snow. Let’s go,'” Donnie said. “We went all the way up to Upper Peninsula, Michigan, almost to the Canadian border. We had an awesome time and we never saw snow. We saw a flurry for a few seconds — we all got out of the car, we were running around like idiots, ‘It’s snowing — we can’t believe it!’

“It was one of the nicest times we’d had as a family,” he said. “We were just in a place and it was like we were almost a part of that place.”

The ride back to Florida began lots of what-ifs, namely: What if they could do this all the time?


Once back, they started small with weeklong camping trips following wherever Donnie had to go for work for his new sales coach job with Southwestern Consulting: North Carolina, Nashville.

“The second go-around was not fun and memorable,” he said, laughing. “I had to show up at my meetings in suits and pressed and ironed. So I was out in the morning, I was steaming my suit, in our campsite, in an undershirt and underwear, it was just one of the most bizarre things. Looking back, it’s hilarious we had the gall to do that. The end result is we learned — I’m never going to camp out again before a business meeting — ever.”

By March, they were ready to leave Florida, come what may. The hardest part, Donnie said, was leaving behind their 19-year-old daughter, who goes to school in Florida. The rest of the children have rolled with everything, missing friends but being up for the adventure.

“They’re loving Maine, they’re loving the waterfalls, the trails, the being outdoors,” he said.

An early treat: Driving around in the evenings looking for moose. They saw three.

“(In Florida,) we never went anywhere, we never did anything,” Donnie said.


“Now we’re not that way,” he said. “We’re out somewhere, there’s always something to do. I feel like it’s forced us to be more intentional, this natural curiosity that drives us all to do things. If we’re going to be somewhere for 12 weeks and we have 15 things we want to do, let’s prioritize because we might not get to that list.”

The only long-term geographical goal: To spend at least six months in Chile a year from now. 

Chris is home schooling the still-in-school children as they travel. Housing and living costs have been on par with what they would have been paying in Florida.

Maine people, they said, have been nice, and curious. 

“I’ve heard of the ‘from away’ stigma — you’re from here or you’re from away — but I haven’t felt that at all,” he said. “I think anytime you have a small army moving with you, that makes people a little curious. What’s up with you guys? I love it. Anything that allows me to talk to people, hear from people, it’s a good thing for me.”

The couple is planning a book about the experience, starting a regular podcast soon and hoping they inspire others, if not to travel with their children, to be more mindful and try something they’ve always had an itch to try.


“It doesn’t have to be travel — this is just our gutsy move to go do something new,” Donnie said. “The question is, what’s yours? I believe every person has a gift and they have a purpose. My hope is to be able to bring people to a place of courage to be able to listen to and respond to that and to chase after that, and then to share that.”

Chris said she’d been wanting to leave Florida for the past six to seven years. She has her sights on living purposefully around Europe and Asia someday.

“It’s really neat how everything came together,” she said. “I wake up everyday, ‘This is so awesome.'”

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