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First Road Trip Questions

We are leaving shortly on our first ever road trip with our new Model S, 100D. Since we leave from just outside Winnipeg, MB and are heading to Orlando, Florida we are wondering if someone here might be able to throw some tips or advice our way.

We've been reading the site since long before we bought the car and found so many answers to our questions up to now. Especially about the winter driving and loss of range if we heat the car!

Our current plan is to head South to Grand Forks and charge at the Best Western then if the range looks doable we will head to that supercharger in Baxter, MN. If things look dicey depending on how cold it is and how much range we have we thought to stop in Fargo to bump up and then over to Baxter.

From Baxter the intent is down through Minneapolis and pick up the I94 to Eau Claire, then Mauston. We will take the I39 straight South from there and if our calculations are correct that will mean Rockford, Peru, Normal, Champaign, Effingham and Mt Vernon are all possible/potential stops depending on range because of cold.

Once we lave Mt Vernon we will be back on highways we know but we have never done this with an EV so have no idea about any of the charging stations. The Tesla map indicates Kuttawa, KY, Brentwood, TN, Manchester, TN and Chattanooga,TN. We think we will have to make sure to catch the on in Chattanooga so that we can completely bypass Atlanta. Our experience going anywhere Atlanta is that the traffic is insanely busy anytime night or day and our best bet is to go from Chattanooga to Macon, GA on a full charge. Our calculations indicate that should be doable at a distance of 324 KM.

From Macon we plan to catch the charger at Tifton and then Ocala.

Does anyone have any experience with those chargers? Are they usually all up and running? How reliable is the Tesla website for it information? Are they good at keeping it updated or should we always hedge our bets.

We have tried to calculate the ranges using an 80KM safety margin but maybe that should be expanded?

Any tips or information anyone could advise would be much appreciated. This is going to be very different from taking an RV that knows every gas station along the road

Thank you in advance for any suggestions you can offer

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Sounds like a great trip - I know you will enjoy it in your 100D!

Not sure where you plan on spending the night(s), but you might look for hotels with destination chargers - those will save you some time as they let you skip a supercharger at the end or beginning of the day. The superchargers themselves are very reliable - the best info source is the in-car navigation screen - that is updated immediately if there is a problem with a supercharger site. The number of stalls occupied is not always completely reliable, but you should not need to worry about fully occupied stalls on your route.

The leg from Chattanooga to Macon should be no problem in your car as long as you get close to a full charge in Chattanooga. Just be aware that the site in Chattanooga is located at the airport, so it's not the greatest in terms of food options.

Good luck.
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what tire are you on? winter tires tend to have higher rolling resistance and consume more power per mile, so you might want to keep track of your actual consumption over the first hour or so and use that in your calculations. The cold weather up north will be a big factor too. Your watt hours per mile should decrease noticeably as you get south into warmer temps. Cargo weight can also be a factor. Most people have a lot more cargo on a road than during typical driving and that can decrease range some. Overall I find that an 80km/50mi buffer should be fine in all but the most extreme cold and terrrain.
Hi! Your trip looks great!
I have your same car, and have already gone through a winter in the Alps (maybe not so cold as in Manitoba, but rather cold anyway) with winter tires, so I have some experience to share.
Looking at the maps, it seams to me that the dearest part should probably be at the beginning of your journey, because there are very few (none!) superchargers in that area, and the climate will be the most harsh. I see there is a destination charger in an hotel in Fargo (360Km from Winnipeg, an easily doable leg with your powerful battery even with heaters on blowing at full). Unfortunately Baxter Supercharger looks to far from Winnipeg and personally I would not risk trying to reach it directly. You will need to spend the night in Fargo, as they only have 8kW available. Book it in advance.
From there there are superchargers all along the road at convenient distances, so no need to worry at all about range: it will be supereasy to get the juice you will need.
My suggestion is to avoid 100% recharge and then stretching it down to 5% before charging again. On the contrary (apart from the first leg) start with 80%-90%, and stop at every supercharger you find along the road. Eventually skip one and stop at the second available. This way you will reach every supercharger with 30% to 50% and a very short stop (from 10 to 20 min maximum, barely the time for piss, coffee, picture, chat with other Tesla owners at supercharger) will be more than enough to get back to 80% and start again.

I'm sure that after the road trip you will love your Tesla even more than you do now. This cars are born for long trip roads, and the longer the trip, the more you will enjoy it.


Moderator, Supercharger Hunter
Global Moderator
Mar 17, 2015
Lafayette, CA, USA
I don't know the areas of North America that you'll be travelling through, so can't give details on specific locations. I'd say in general, be flexible and have back-up plans for charging if you can. You probably won't need them, but thinking ahead a little bit will save you some headaches if problems arise.

Once you pass Atlanta...

If you are at the Macon SC during the day Mon-Sat, it is nice, the visitor center there is spotless and the folks are welcoming, and there are a few restaurants and a coffee house within a couple of blocks if that interests you. Sunday, visitor center and everything else is closed, and nights are considered by many to be a stop that's not too much fun, given the part of town it's in. We love stopping there when everything is open; we make sure our schedule doesn't take us there at night, and not on Sundays if possible just because everything is closed.

After that, make a quick stop at Tifton (the SCs are literally in the Starbucks Coffee Shop parking lot) at probably the most convenient SC to the interstate in that part of the US. Right there immediately when you exit, and 50 yard to get back on the interstate headed south.

Then I'd pick one of the two stops right over the Florida line. I prefer the one at Live Oak because the Busy Bee rest stop there is really cool. Really. But it does add about 10 miles to your trip, and the one at Lake City is fine.

If you stop at one of those you'll have plenty of range to make it to one of the Orlando area SCs. Turkey Lake rest stop on the turnpike is pleasant enough, or if you're headed to the tourist part of town (south) the Wawa looks pretty good (haven't been there yet). Not as cool as Busy Bee, but Wawas have a good reputation for good places to visit while charging.
Thank you all ever so much for such speedy comments.

Our tires are Goodyear Touring, 19" and so far they have been performing well for us. But we still don't have a lot of snow here yet. Hopefully we won't encounter too much of that in the first day when we leave.

We are going to be very careful our first leg because we will be around -10C when we start out and intend to pre-heat as instructed in one of the many posts we read where the advice was also to take off the "Range Mode".

And thank you for the advice as to where not to stop Hookemhorns - all warnings gratefully accepted.


Active Member
May 17, 2014
Central Valley
I have been to the Normal Supercharger once. It was well off the interstate on the third or fourth floor of a parking garage. The garage entrance is easy to miss while you are navigating about the downtown area. However, I will let those more familiar with Normal to confirm or refute my perception. I would bypass Normal and drive directly from either Rockford or Peru to Champaign.

With your large battery, you probably will not need to stop at every Supercharger location once you reach the lower 48. Yes, weather and cabin comfort will eat into your range. But some of the Superchargers are 100 miles or so apart; a longer stop to eat or to walk about (if comfortable) will enable you to bypass the next stop if you leave with 80%+. The navigation on the touchscreen that lists your stops and duration of charging is a good place to start, but it is not the whole story.

I also agree with others in that if you find a hotel/motel with destination chargers, you should stop there for the night. You can not only leave with close to 100%, you can turn on the cabin heat after you rise in the morning to make the cabin comfy cozy to your liking. The cabin will use the charging power going to the car to heat. Then you might be able to get by for an hour or so by simply using the bun warmers instead of the heating the cabin. The bun warmers do not use much battery.


Well-Known Member
Apr 13, 2018
Buford, GA
Once we lave Mt Vernon we will be back on highways we know but we have never done this with an EV so have no idea about any of the charging stations. The Tesla map indicates Kuttawa, KY, Brentwood, TN, Manchester, TN and Chattanooga,TN. We think we will have to make sure to catch the on in Chattanooga so that we can completely bypass Atlanta. Our experience going anywhere Atlanta is that the traffic is insanely busy anytime night or day and our best bet is to go from Chattanooga to Macon, GA on a full charge. Our calculations indicate that should be doable at a distance of 324 KM.

From Macon we plan to catch the charger at Tifton and then Ocala.

I would not recommend trying to bypass Atlanta chargers for Macon. There are a lot of food and shopping options around either the Atlantic Station or Lenox (and a Tesla store at Lenox). There's basically nothing near the charger in Macon. There's a few places to eat at Tifton, but either drop the wife off at Adcock Pecans or both of you visit for some great nuts and not candies. From there, we could make it down to Orlando in our LR Model 3, but stopped at Turkey Lake, to get a quick bite and not to arrive on empty. The tourist charger on International is in a Wawa, but can be pretty busy.
As someone mentioned, Chattanooga is at the airport, inside of paid parking (fee tends to be waived) and there's snack in the airport, but mainly it a bio break. Back in Chatannog, there's some nice restaurants downtown and across the river. And if you have some time, one of the best aquariums (includes fresh as well as salt water) in the US is there. And if you like aquariums, the next one is the Atlanta, sponsored by Home Depot owner, is one of the biggest in the world.

I've always found that the best way to travel is to stop and smell the roses along the way. And when having to charge, work to combine charging with meals or other things that keep you from having to sit in the car and wait.

Half Dollar Bill

Traveller, teacher, poet, accountant, innkeeper
Oct 19, 2013
Freeport Maine
Plugshare isn't showing any sites in Grand Forks but it looks like there's a chademo in Fargo at the Noodles.
Remember that speed is the great equalizer. Slowing down even 5mph is going to get you a bunch of range. If it's a choice of traveling at 50mph to get 300-350 miles versus 65mph and having to stop at a J1772 for a few hours then I'll take the slower speed anyday.
Once you get to your first supercharger you're fine and can pretty much autopilot the rest of the trip. The network is generally about 2 hours between sites so you're going to want to plan a longer stop at every 3rd stop to get topped back up.
Just watch your trip/energy graph early on and take it easy if the roads are unpleasant.
Just take your time. Road tripping on an EV is a different thing altogether. If you’re in a rush, leave earlier.

Supercharging takes time, but if you plan it around meals, you won’t notice much difference. Just be courteous to other drivers and vacate the spaces once you’re charged.

Enjoy the trip! Sounds Epic!
Gotta disagree with “basically nothing” at Macon during the day. The SC is at the visitors center, a large modern facility with clean restrooms, nice staff, and very comfortable seats in the rarely used theater. If that’s all you want, it’s great. If you want a meal, a number of restaurants within 2 blocks. Also a large, friendly coffee shop, and an ice cream/sweets shop. You’re chancing Atlanta traffic if you decide to go through the middle of town for one of their SCs. Atlantic Station and Lenox are both pretty cool, just overhead in getting to them can be a bear. Not always, I’ll agree, just avoid the whole city during rush hours.

Hard to beat the Tifton SC for convenience. Starbucks and Olive Garden literally steps away.
Live in Baxter MN. The 8 SC's there are never busy....maybe one other T will be there at most. The restaurant/bar in the Arrowwood Lodge (SCs are in the parking lot) has good food. Right next door is the Jack Pine microbrewery...stop in and try a Fenceline,

But, a thought...Baxter may be way off course. Have you checked going via the SC just off I-94 at Clearwater MN?

So...follow I-94 thru Fargo, Alexandria, St Cloud (Clearwater), Minneapolis....
All freeway. Brainerd really is off the main routes...some PITA driving some of those hiways.

And for backup, I carry one of these on road trips in addition to the plug options (maybe overkill, but used it twice already - to a laundry room dryer outlet):
Heavy Duty 50 Amp RV and Auto Extension Cord 15 Feet

Other cold weather tips: seat heaters work great, wipe rubber window and door seals with Turtle Wax Ice Premium Spray Wax to prevent freeze up, keep climate on hi heat while SCing and you're in the restaurant getting caffeine.
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