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Road Trip Must-Haves: OnStar and Buc-ee’s

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Looking for the perfect combo on your next road trip? See how OnStar and Buc-ee’s® can help.

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Looking for the perfect combo on your next road trip? See how OnStar and Buc-ee’s® can help

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Every trip is better with the safety and security of OnStar and a snack run to Buc‑ee’s®

Anyone who’s road-tripped knows the importance of finding a great rest stop for the traditional fuel-and-snack break. It’s not just about gas; you’re also looking for a wide selection of food and beverages, clean bathrooms, and prompt service so you can get back on the road quickly.

Of course, another thing you should have on every road trip is the safety and security that comes with OnStar. If you get lost, for instance, you can push the blue OnStar button and ask for Turn-by-Turn directions.*20 Run out of gas, get a flat tire or return from a rest stop to a dead battery? Roadside Assistance*17 can help you get back on the road. And if the unexpected happens, or you witness somebody else who needs help along the way, you can have the added peace of mind knowing an Emergency Advisor*64 is just a button-push away. OnStar is the one essential you need for road trips anywhere.

For everything else, you need a trusted rest stop. And when your road trip takes you through Texas, there’s no question about where you’ll want to pull off: Buc‑ee’s,® the be-all and end-all of rest stops. It’s hard to miss when freeway billboards adorned with the iconic travel center’s bucktoothed mascot, Buc‑ee Beaver, signal your approach for miles.

Buc-ee’s is rightly considered a must-see. Each location embodies the opposite of what makes drivers want to leave a typical gas station as quickly as possible. “It’s an experience for travelers as much as it is about the products we offer,” says Jeff Nadalo, general counsel and secretary of Buc‑ee’s Ltd. “It’s about the clean bathrooms, the friendliness of the staff and the variety we offer.”

Hungry? Parched? You can get snacks and drinks of almost unimaginable variety. Forget something at home? Buc‑ee’s carries everything from grills and coolers to rafting tubes and towels. Headed to the great outdoors? You can get beach items and high-quality hunting and fishing gear while you stock up on meats. People say Buc‑ee’s has everything you need for a road trip. And it’s almost true. The only thing it doesn’t offer is the safety and security of OnStar.

Just like how having OnStar gives you added peace of mind on the road, the large selection of products available at Buc‑ee’s is a true comfort for travelers. On I-35 between Houston and Austin, the New Braunfels, Texas, location is the brand’s flagship store.

At 68,000 square feet, it’s the largest convenience store in the world. The branch set another record, too; in 2012, it received an award for the cleanest restrooms in America, thanks to the hard work of round-the-clock attendants. The sparkling restrooms are one of Buc-ee’s biggest draws. Even on the busiest summer days, a line is unlikely. The women’s room has 28 stalls and the men’s has 12 (plus plenty of urinals); each stall is separated by floor-to-ceiling privacy walls and contains its own hand sanitizer dispenser. Equally as appealing is the cheap gas served at 120 pumps, open exclusively to cars, trucks and buses — no semis allowed.

For as large as the store is, the whole operation is designed to help customers get in and out quickly. During busy hours, all 31 cash registers are open, with friendly and efficient cashiers smoothly moving customers along. This is true across all Buc‑ee’s locations, which see more than 100 million customers every year.

“Most people come to Buc‑ee’s first out of curiosity,” says Nadalo. “Second, they realize the quality, then third, they’ve determined that it’s their new destination.” Travelers from around the world come to Buc‑ee’s, including a contingent of Texas expatriates living in Japan who make a point to visit the store when they’re back home.

What exactly are those customers buying at Buc‑ee’s? We spent a Saturday at the New Braunfels location to see for ourselves.

At 5 a.m., the scent of candied nuts greets you at the door. The roaster runs 24/7, churning out warm pecans, almonds and cashews, all wrapped cheerfully in paper cones printed with the smiling face of Buc‑ee Beaver. Early morning travelers shuffle toward the coffee station with children in pajamas trailing behind. A row of hot and iced coffee dispensers lines the wall in front of two large self-serve condiment islands. Creamer, assorted milks, flavored syrups, chocolate sauce pumps — they’ve got it all.

The nearby pastry case is filled with freshly baked kolaches (sweet and savory stuffed pastries), fruit and cheese Danishes, and every kind of muffin imaginable. Employees smile behind the case, happily offering recommendations and warming up pastries for customers. Country music plays softly over the speakers. This is Texas, after all.

By the afternoon, the hospitality is the same but the building buzzes with a different energy. Kids weave through the many candy aisles, overwhelmed by the selection. Sure, all the brand-name favorites are there, but the real spectacle is the sea of options adorned with the Buc-ee’s logo. Especially the gummies, which come in all forms: gummy butterflies, mini gummy worms, cinnamon and orange cream gummy bears. Each candy aisle is capped with a frozen drink machine — four in total — giving shoppers something cold to wash down the yogurt-covered pretzels.

Meanwhile, grown-ups browse free-standing shelves of jarred sauces and jams and raw wildflower honey, plus items that have the kids scrunching up their faces: pickled okra and “Sweet Fire Pickles” — Buc‑ee’s bread-and-butter pickles with candied jalapenos.

Travelers who spend more than ten minutes inside are lucky enough to witness a Buc‑ee’s tradition at the large oval island that houses the store’s pièce de résistance: the Texas Round Up. Here, barbecue is a show. Employees chop and slice meat at a wooden table lit from above and all holler in unison, “Fresh brisket on the board!” The offerings — smoked turkey, brisket, sausage and pulled pork — exceed even Texans’ high standards.

With this kind of selection and tradition in a fittingly pristine edifice, it’s no wonder this Texas gem is growing beyond the Lone Star State. A new Alabama Buc‑ee’s location is already open and construction for a Florida location will start soon. Wherever you’re headed, if you spot a beaver on a billboard, you know which exit to take. Can’t wait until you see the billboards? Push your blue OnStar button to get Turn-by-Turn directions and make a road trip of it.