10 tips for a dog-friendly road trip

During our big cross-country road trip last year (and in the months after), there’s one topic that we’ve gotten a lot of questions about: how we managed two months on the road with our dog, Callie.

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If you know anything about me, you know that I am OBSESSED with my dog. (Yes, I’m one of those dog people, and I will fly my freak flag proudly.) The truth is, like most aspects of dog ownership, road-tripping with Callie wasn’t always easy—but we wouldn’t have even thought about doing it any other way.

So for anyone who feels the same way and wants to plan a trip of your own, I put together a few tips and suggestions based on we learned from our experience. Whether you’re setting out on an epic adventure or just driving cross-country for a move, hopefully this can help you plan a smooth, stress-free trip for you and your pup!

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One rainbow, hold the rain: day hiking to Peru’s “Rainbow Mountain”

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The glowing red clock at the front of the van read 2:14 a.m. Flashes of the outskirts of Cusco, Peru—streetlights, rows of cramped convenience stores, hand-painted ads on stucco walls—whipped past my periphery, punctuating the near darkness.

Circa-2013 pop music almost drowned out the sounds of our van rattling as it flew over pot holes and swerved around slower cars. I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the road straight ahead—instead of how fast we were going, instead of the tangle of apprehension and nausea growing in the pit of my stomach. I was utterly exhausted, but wide awake with nerves.

I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

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South Dakota part two: Mount Rushmore, Hill City, Custer State Park & Black Hills National Forest

We fit a LOT into the two full days we were in South Dakota. (If you missed my first South Dakota recap of Badlands National Park, check it out here!)

On day two, after packing up camp and leaving the Badlands, we headed straight for South Dakota’s most famous landmark: Mount Rushmore.

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I was a little bit annoyed that, even with our national parks annual pass,  we still had to pay $11 for “parking” (the alternative: hike several miles up a steep highway?) to go see the monument. But we paid our way and went to check it out—one at a time, since dogs aren’t allowed inside the monument.

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A good day in the Badlands

After our wonderful stay in Wisconsin, we said goodbye to family and—clean, rested, with the car neatly packed and a cooler full of cheese—started our journey west.

Fast-forward nearly 400 miles of incredibly boring southern Minnesota interstate…and we finally crossed into South Dakota! We ended up camping in Palisades State Park for the night—juuuust over the border to the east of Sioux Falls. After a good night’s sleep, we decided to do a little exploring before getting back in the car. And it was the coolest place! Originally an old mining town, the park featured a winding river with crazy rock formations and trails all along the shores.

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We went for a short hour-long hike, and at 9:30 a.m. on a weekday, didn’t see another soul. It ended up being one of those unexpected road trip surprises: a hidden gem just outside of Sioux Falls. If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely check it out.

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After that, it was onward to our next destination: Badlands National Park, the first national park of our trip! It was just a few more hours of boring interstate (and about 8 million tourist trap billboards) away, about an hour east of Rapid City. After we took photos with the sign (obviously) and purchased our pass (we’re official card-carrying NPS annual pass holders now, NBD) we headed into the park.

dsc_0678And about two minutes later, we felt like we were on another planet.

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Family tour Part Two: much more than cheese, brats, and beer

[Writer’s note: Guys. Blogging from the road is so hard. I’m writing this from a hotel (our first one of the trip!) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, so I’m a little bit behind…I promise I’ll catch up eventually, but there’s so much to write about and so little time! I’ll put in one more plug for my Instagram feed—follow me there (@laurahoxworth) to see more real-time updates. For now, here’s a recap of our time in Wisconsin!]


After our day in Cincinnati, we set off for the second leg of our family history tour: Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland. This part was all about Chris’s family. His dad’s side (the Panoshes) goes back several generations in Wisconsin, and he still has relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins) throughout the state, most of whom I had never met before.

On our way there, we made a quick stop in Chicago—just enough time to walk from the Buckingham Fountain up to Millennium Park, take a tourist photo with the Cloud Gate, get kicked out because apparently you’re not supposed to have dogs there, and then run back to our car before the meter ran out.

From there, our first stop was Milwaukee! I don’t know what I was expecting from Milwaukee exactly—to be honest, I spent so much time looking forward to towering mountain ranges and national parks out West, I hadn’t thought much about Wisconsin besides the cheese, brats, and beer. But after a full day of exploring, Milwaukee had totally blown me away.

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Hoxworth family history in Cincinnati, OH

[Writer’s note: It’s easier for me to update Instagram more frequently than the blog, so follow me there @laurahoxworth to see more photos throughout the trip!]

Hello from Wisconsin! I have lots to say about our stay in America’s Dairyland (and sausage land…and beer land…), but I’ll get to that soon. First things first: I wanted to write about our very first destination—a quick stop that was special to me for personal reasons.

After setting out from Greensboro, NC, on Wednesday, we spent our first day driving through the mountains of West Virginia, and our first night car camping in Indiana’s Daniel Boone National Forest—where we got to our lakeside campsite just in time to see a gorgeous sunset over the lake (and where Callie had a wonderful time chasing katydids).

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On Thursday, we arrived at our first planned destination: Cincinnati, Ohio!

We aren’t doing a lot of city exploring on this trip (especially since we have a certain furry companion with us), but there’s one main reason why we put this spot on our map: it’s the city where my dad grew up and went to medical school, and where my grandparents lived and left somewhat of a legacy—and I’ve never visited before. So it seemed like the perfect stop as we made our way up toward Wisconsin.

It’s funny how family history becomes more interesting the older you get. I never had the opportunity to meet my grandfather, but I’ve heard plenty of stories. And once I knew we were headed to Cincinnati, I started asking family members and doing a little research into who he was. By all accounts, Paul Hoxworth was a character: fiercely intelligent, curious, confident, caring, and nothing if not entertaining.

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Rubber bands & Ziploc bags

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Locked & loaded: ready for two months on the road

The summer before I went to college, I spent MONTHS getting ready.

I made lists on lists on lists. Over and over I ran through them all in my head, trying to think of every possible thing I could need for my dorm room. One morning, my mom found me rummaging through a cabinet, hoarding a small selection of office supplies: rubber bands, scotch tape, scissors, Ziploc bags.

“You know,” she said—in the simultaneously kind yet all-knowing voice only a mother can master—”I bet there’s someplace in Chapel Hill you can buy those if you need them.”

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