The Unexpected Road Trip

One type of travel my family has never really done is the long-haul road trip. We’ve never really been interested. Well, Flight cancellations and delays had different plans for us this holiday season. Today, we relive the tale of the unexpected road trip!

An Unexpected Road Trip

  • Ryan’s original plans
  • How the plans got derailed
  • How we decided on a backup plan
  • The primary thing that helped us pull off this trip.
  • Things we did on the road to Cocoa Beach.
  • The Greatness of Buc-ee’s
  • How to get everyone [and the car!] back home?
  • Ryan’s drive back.

Question: Tell us about a time you had an unexpected road trip.

Please let us know in the All Things Travel Podcast Facebook group!

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Episode 144 Transcripts

Episodes are transcribed with artificial intelligence, so some highly amusing translations are likely!

Ryan: things Travel. One type of travel my family has never really done is a long haul road trip. We haven’t really been interested. Well, flight cancellations and delays had different plans for us this holiday season. Today we relive the tail of the unexpected road trip.

So Shayne, we both traveled over the holidays. How did your trip.

Shayne: About as smoothly as any trip has ever gone. We had zero complaints about how smoothly this trip went other than the weather in Florida where you went to was really cold. We didn’t get to do everything in Tampa that we had planned, but still smooth. Fabulous trip.

Ryan: Trains, Ubers, all that kind of stuff. Work smooth.

Shayne: Yeah, everything was good.

Ryan: Well, our original plan was that we were going to fly down to Florida on Christmas day fly out of Indianapolis, and we were gonna spend the night at Cocoa Beach. So we’re gonna fly into Orlando, rent a car for the week, drive over to Cocoa Beach, and then get on our cruise the next day. And well, Southwest had different plans for us, like thousands of people right around that time.

Our trip at least the way to get there, was greatly affected. And , I, it’s quite a story, at least in, in our family war. So I’m, I’m happy to share it today.

Shayne: I am looking forward to hearing about this, but I remember seeing that there was something going on with Southwest and I knew that you would be flying Southwest, and I was interested to see how you were gonna handle this challenge.

Ryan: Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation. We work with you to plan a trip perfect for your interests, saving you time, money, and stress.

Shayne: We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation.

Ryan: You can reach out to me at Ryan at Creating Magic Vacations. That’s R Y A N, at

All right, so here’s how it played out on Sunday Christmas Day. My wife woke me up a little bit earlier than I was planning on getting up. She woke me up about five, and of course the first words out of her mouth is they canceled our flight, and so.

I looked at her, she was on her phone already. She handles our flights and our family she does the, the flights and the rental cars, and I do most everything else. That’s kinda how we’ve broken it up. And so she was on it. She said, I’ve looked, we are gonna fly to Indianapolis. So she’s like, you know, I’ve looked at Cincinnati, I’ve looked at Chicago, I’ve looked at all the other places that we might fly out of, and there’s absolutely nothing.

She said, everything’s getting canceled, getting delayed.

Shayne: Oh wow.

Ryan: And so it was and she, she just said, well, here’s the plan. Either we don’t go on our trip because we were getting on a cruise the next day, but remember we were still following our, our rule, right? Shayne, cuz we were flying down the day before.

So it was, Hey, we are boarding our cruise at noon the next day. The ship leaves at 4:00 PM. and we can either chance it with getting on a flight because Southwest said, Hey, we rebooked you. But there was no information about what that next flight was. She said, or we could not go or we could drive. Well, the not going wasn’t an option in my mind because we had planned this trip.

We were looking forward to this trip. We had moved our other holiday plans around for this trip. I wasn’t willing to put it in the hands of Southwest. And so very quickly we said we’re driving down.

Shayne: do you know now or do you have any idea what they had planned for you?

Ryan: No, I mean, we had gone, I, we had gone days before changing stuff around and had gotten no information from Southwest. So I, if they re, if they did indeed rebook us, it was for later in the.

Shayne: Wow.

Ryan: Yeah, so,

Shayne: now tell me if I’m reading these show notes correctly. , you woke up, Elizabeth woke up at 5:00 AM and told you the flight was canceled. You then had to make this decision. and you hit the road at 6:30 AM one and a half

Ryan: so I mean, we were already packed and everything because we, we were gonna leave around that time anyway, so that wasn’t, so we got the kids up, we got cleaned up, we got ready to go. Now the advantage Shayne is when you drive, you don’t have to worry about what goes in the van. You know, the minivan. So the minivan was stocked full of holiday treats and checks mix, and the kids were excited to bring their squish mellows and their fleece blankets and all that kind of stuff that they wouldn’t be able to bring for the flight.

And so we left Northern Indiana at 6:30 AM. And basically between then in Indianapolis and then later Louisville, Indianapolis is about two hours south to the north side. Louisville is about four-ish hours. Total. I was on hold with Southwest because we’re like, you know, if we can get a flight out of Indianapolis, if we can get a fight outta Louisville, we can stop there and still fly down that day.

I didn’t even get through. I mean, I, I was on hold and I, I said, I said, if, if we get to Louisville and I still can’t get through, I’m done and we’re just gonna drive because part of it, if we get too far from home, I don’t wanna fly outta Nashville or something, because then we have to fly back and drive back from Nashville.

So that didn’t make any sense. So it was kind of like once we, once we hit the Indiana, Kentucky border, we said we’re, we’re driving the whole way. So then the next decision was, We had a room in CO, in Cocoa Beach for that night that we were planning on to use. Do we keep that or do we cancel it and stop along the way?

And so we decided to keep it and just of see how the day went. And by mid-morning, like I said, Shayne, it was clear that things were canceled. They were delays. People were flying and then getting stuck places. So like, you know, and that was my other worry is okay, so we get a flight out of Indianapolis and then we fly to Baltimore and get stuck.

And lo and behold, you know, I said that as an example, and lo and behold, there was a whole group that that very thing happened

Shayne: Oh, wow.

Ryan: You know, they, they got that first flight out and then the second flight never materialized. And so honestly, I don’t know how many people on our cruise were affected by all this, but my guess is it had to be a bunch.

Shayne: that’s wild sometimes there are things that you can’t prepare for other than you would at least prepare to be there the day before, so you had that full day to get

Ryan: We, we, we had that, we had that buffer. We had that time. And, and to be honest, it worked to our advantage, obviously, but it, it really worked out. And so then by about midday, we said, no, we’re just gonna drive all the way through. We’re gonna get to Cocoa Beach. We’re not gonna worry about another hotel room.

We called the hotel just to say, Hey. We’re gonna be there after midnight because, you know, obviously we, you know, we hadn’t been there before, so we didn’t know what it was gonna be like as far as occupancy, and we wanted to make sure that they didn’t give our, our room away. And we were all, we were all set there.

So I have some, some fun little things that happened along the way. Shayne, I, I’m excited to talk about something that I, I experienced for the first time that I know you’re probably a pro on. But first I wanna know where in the world does All Things Travel?

Shayne: I have a hard time saying this word. It has a lot of, a lot of consonants in it, but Ville, Ohio.

Ryan: it’s, I bet it’s pronounced ville.

Shayne: Ville. Okay. I bet that’s.

Ryan: that’s my guess.

Shayne: That’s a good guess. A pretty small town there in Ohio, and they have what looks like a really cool railroad museum. The Denison Railroad Depot Museum, where they have the train, the depot, a diner. They have an old Pullman stage car, or you know, c Coach Carr, that you can, you can either rent it by the room and sleep in it.

They, they have a listing on Airbnb or you can rent the entire car. If you have a group, it looks like a lot of fun.

Ryan: Shayne. That’s the one stop shop right there, man.

Shayne: It, they have everything. There’s even a little bar across the street.

Ryan: I love it. You know, I could see, let’s rent the whole thing out and record an episode there.

Shayne: We should do that. Just a, an All Things Travel train extravaganza.

Ryan: love it. Well, hey Ville, thank you so much for listening from Ohio. We really appreciate it. We love meeting folks who listen to the show week in and week out. Do me a favor, reach out to me on Facebook, or you can email me I’ve got a little thank you gif for being featured on today’s.

Shayne: And to make sure you hear where in the world is All Things Travel next week, be sure to follow the show or subscribe to the show so that you never miss any of our travel tips, travel ideas, or travel stories.

Ryan: So Shayne as we were going along, you know, like I said at the intro, this is in no way how our family likes to travel. I mean, driving the, the two and a half hours to Indianapolis Airport or to Midway Airport is about as long as my kids care to sit in the car.

And so this idea of we are spending the entire day in the car did not appeal to them except. They actually kind, I mean, they, they were in really good spirits about it because they liked seeing stuff they hadn’t seen before. So, for instance, it was their first time in Kentucky, it was their first time in Tennessee.

It was their first time in Georgia. And so that was of cool, you know, for, for them to see a different part of the country. You know, by the time we got to Florida, it was pretty late and nobody cared anymore. You know, but, but seeing, you know, Kentucky and Tennessee and Nashville and Atlanta, I mean, that was pretty.

Shayne: Did everyone enjoy watching the state lines as you passed into each

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, and they, they were pretty good. And so, you know, one of the problems that we encountered that, that changed our trip a little bit was being Christmas day. Nothing was open. So, you know, finding road food was a challenge. So luckily, like I said, we had packed lots of snacks.

You know, we had drinks, we had snacks, we were good, but we really wanted, you know, fi finding the, the, the real lunch or real dinner was hard. So, so we went to a, a random subway somewhere, and that was good to get some, some quote unquote real food. So in Georgia, Our travel lives were changed forever because all of a sudden I saw a billboard and I’m like, Hey, wait a minute.

My friends have talked about this. We need to stop at Bucky’s and Shayne. We stopped at Bucky’s twice on the way down. It’s the most amazing place I’ve ever been in my.

Shayne: It is a destination unto itself

Ryan: It’s a Texas based travel center. So I knew that you would know about Bucky’s.

Shayne: Now was this in Texas? There are some older BS that are smaller about the size of a typical convenience

Ryan: Oh no, this place

Shayne: Okay. You had one of the giant ones.

Ryan: Yes. Yes. And it w it I, I mean, if it was not newish, I mean it was, I, this place was immaculate. The bathrooms were clean. There was anything you’d ever want to have. I mean, this place is awesome.

Shayne: Buc-ees is probably a good road trip tip because even some older Buckys along some of the, some of the routes that we take, you wouldn’t know that they had been there for a decade. They’re really new looking and it is the, the bathroom layout. Is the best there is. You can get, it’ll look like the place is just jam packed and you’re gonna be stuck in lines forever, but you, you’re in and out in no

Ryan: and it, it, it is, I mean, when I was coming home, and I’ll, I’ll talk about that end of the trip in a little bit. I had stopped at that same bucky’s and the bus had just come in and it was full. But again, you’re, you’re getting right through lines. You’re getting right to the bathroom. You’re getting to the food.

So this. first and foremost has merchandise of any kind. Bucky branded or not Bucky’s a Beaver. It has tons of gas tanks or, you know, gas you know, to, to get gas or whatever you need for your car. It has, they’re making pulled pork and brisket sandwiches right in the middle of it. There’s a wall of jerky, there’s a bakery.

There are there are candies. There’s snacks. There’s anything uh, there’s a, a wall of coffee and fountain drinks. I mean, it’s nuts.

So we stopped at the one in Northern Georgia. and then we were probably about an hour away from, from Cocoa Beach. And my wife just said, I, I need to get something to drink. I’ve gotta, I’ve gotta, and so we stopped in I think outside of St.

Augustine Florida. There was one. And we stopped. And again, you’re talking by that point, by that time it’s 11 30, 11 45 at night, people are still there, you know, and stuff’s still happening. My, my son actually got his picture taken in Georgia with the Bucky mascot in a Santa costume because it was Christmas day.

We just fell in love with it. It was so much fun. It was an unexpected treat that just made the trip that much better.

Shayne: Good. I’m glad you got to enjoy that and I’m glad that they make it so Road trip, family road trip friendly.

Ryan: It reminded me when we were in Italy this summer, we stopped. When we were driving with the Adventures by Disney Group, we stopped at a couple what they call auto grills, and it reminded me of that, where it’s like a, a, a. Truck stop on steroids. It’s like, there’s a restaurant, there’s a coffee shop, there’s merchandise, there’s, you know, any type of candy and, and treat that you want.

And it’s, it’s a place where people actually stop and spend some time rather than just run in, grab something, go to the bathroom and run back out.

Shayne: Whenever my kids come from Florida, they always want to go to Bucky’s while they’re here. Yeah.

Ryan: Well, there you go. That’s our public Bucky service announcement for the, for the episode But truly, it, it, it, it added a lot of fun. To our trip. You know, a trip that could have been really you know, everybody ho-hum about it. You know, we had a, we got a, my son got a little Bucky, like key chain figure and hung it in the car and

Shayne: Oh man. Mickey’s in trouble.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So we had a long, long day Shayne. One, one thing I will say, Jacksonville is absolutely gorgeous at night as you’re driving across the bridges with the water and the, and the larger buildings. Didn’t expect that, but that’s just something as I was thinking through our day.

So we got to Coco k we, or I. So we got to Cocoa Beach at 1230 that night. So again, we pretty much drove straight through with the minor stops you know, six 30 in the morning till 1230 at night. And we got there, everything was fine. We got into our room and everybody obviously crashed.

Shayne: I bet

Ryan: So the trade off was, Yes, we spent the entire day traveling, but we woke up, we were there.

We didn’t stop someplace along the way, and then had hours of driving to get to Cocoa Beach. In fact, when I opened up the shade of our hotel room, I was staring straight at our ship.

Shayne: what are the odds of that? Staring at your ship.

Ryan: at our ship. How cool was that? And then all the tiredness and, you know, angst about the day before was all gone because we’re getting on a cruise ship

Shayne: right.

Ryan: But I’m gonna talk about that in an upcoming episode. So that was our trip down. The problem is Shayne, when your car’s in Florida, you can’t just fly.

Shayne: You can’t pack it in a carry on

Ryan: You can’t pack in, in a carry on. So, you know, the advantage is we obviously didn’t need the rental car for the week and we had our own car. So like I said, we had our own stuff for, for the week, which was nice. So we were originally planning on flying home. On January 2nd we were gonna spend New Year’s Eve at Epcot.

We were gonna spend New Year’s Day at Disney Springs and then fly home that next day. And we weren’t sure what to do. You know, should we all fly or should we all drive back and then not worry anything about the flights. Again, with Southwest, you can cancel stuff, you know, get credit for it. So we weren’t worried about losing money, per se, and as my wife’s, as we got off the cruise and my wife.

Kept track of stuff, you know, she said, you know, flights are going and flights are moving, and you know, there’s no delays, there’s no cancellations anymore. So we were talking throughout that week. You know, what do we do? Elizabeth had to get back to work for Tuesday. My kids were off school till Thursday, so she had a, a day or so.

The kids had a couple days, and so basically what we decided was we were gonna change the flights and the three of them were gonna fly back on January 1st to give them an extra day in case something were to happen. So that morning. We had breakfast at Disney and then we checked out and I drove them to the airport and then I started making my way north and I drove by myself home.

Shayne: The solo road trip.

Ryan: road trip. So two new experiences. And you know what? That went pretty good. I hit a couple accidents that slowed things down that first day. I drove from Orlando to Chattanooga, Tennessee that day, stopping at Bucky’s, of course, for a brisket sandwich which was absolutely fabulous.

And so I drove to Chattanooga and then I drove the rest of the way home on Monday. So drove up through Nashville, up through Louisville, and then made my way up home to, to Northern Indiana. And it went smoothly. It was good. You know, it wasn’t, I had a good Bill Bryson book on audio,

so I was entertained the whole time.

And yeah. So, so now, now we know we can do it if we have to. It’s still not our, our mode, if you will, but that was our unexpected road trip. How does that sound as a travel story? Shayne?

Shayne: that is fantastic. I still like road trips. They’re not very popular around here other than me. But I do like how you took what was a challenging situation and turned it made, it made something fun and enjoyable and memorable out.

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, it was definitely an adventure. You know, like I said, to kind of wrap up, you know, we would not plan to do it necessarily, but it worked and it actually, it, it, it went as smoothly as it could. It didn’t affect our vacation MI minus, you know, you know, taking a day off at the end, which by that point, everybody was done for with vacation, wanting to get home.

Anyway we did what we had to do and, and I was glad that, that it worked out.

Shayne: You can’t wait for the next one,

Ryan: So the next time I go to Florida, which is when I meet up with you in a few weeks, Shayne, I will not be driving

Shayne: No. We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation.

Ryan: Reach out to me That’s R y n at Creating Magic Vacations dot.

Shayne: Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation. We work with you to plan a trip, perfect for your interests, saving you time, money, and stress.

an All Things Travel train extravaganza.

Ryan: love it. Well,