Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip (with a Dog)

Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip (with a Dog) | Freckled Italian

With Rob traveling to California and back every week, I've found myself in this weird emotional place where I count down the days until the weekend but then simultaneously panic over how few weekends we have left as residents of Charlotte (spoiler alert: there are only 7 of them).

Other than planning next week's trip out there to visit, the other thing that's been really fun and kind of distracting-but-productive has been mapping out our move-to-the-West-Coast road trip. Since we have Ender and don't want to put him on a plane, we decided to drive from North Carolina to California in September. I've done the drive from Virginia to Minnesota and back again with Rob when we moved to Charlotte, so we decided to skip the northern states and do a southern tour of the country. At first we had talked about going through Tennessee and then to Austin, Texas before pushing through to new Mexico, Arizona, and finally getting to Silicon Valley by way of Los Angeles. But then we changed our mind! So now our route looks like this (we're using Furkot to map out all the stops and it's pretty badass and super easy to use):

  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Reno, Nevada
  • San Francisco, California
Planning a Cross-Country Road Trip (with a Dog) | Freckled Italian

This route gets us to a bunch of cities that are new to us, and I think by skipping New Mexico and Arizona, we'll have a greater variety on the road.

We've never planned a big road trip like this, so it's a lot to figure out, and then you add in the element of traveling with a dog and it seems a little overwhelming at times--we're taking six nights to get out there so we don't have to drive more than 8 hours a day. We'll stop every 3-4 hours for Ender to have a walk and a potty break, but other than that I'm not really sure what to do to make the trip easier on him! He rides in his crate because he gets super overstimulated otherwise, so we decided to just keep doing that since it's what he's used to. We're just planning to make lots of stops and maybe even seek out a dog park or two along the way.

So far in our time with Ender, I think this trip will be the biggest challenge. Being on the road for days can be stressful enough, but add an energetic, 50-pound dog and we're going to have to get creative! I'd love to hear any of your recommendations for great places to eat/things to see in all the cities we're stopping! We've got pet-friendly hotels down but are now on the hunt for great coffee shops and restaurants, this time with dog-friendly patios or easy take-out options. I'd also love to hear any advice from people who have taken long trips with their pets!

I don't feel ready to move quite yet, but I do feel like a cross-country road trip is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm so excited to be doing it with my tiny little family. Ender doesn't even know yet!