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Tesla Camping Trip Circumnavigating the USA, ~12K miles

Magnetic

Member
Jan 11, 2020
72
179
Pennsylvania
2018 Model 3,
Dual Motor, Long Range,
FSD, 2021.4.18.2,
84K miles

TLDR - Uneventful

7 weeks of camping “in” the Tesla at State Parks around the country.
Two Bikes on Tesla roof rack with a Yakima bike rack
Hotels on weekends – campgrounds were always filled and we didn’t know how long we would be in any one location so couldn’t really book campgrounds for weekends.
Plug in Electric cooler, runs off the cigarette outlet in console, plugs into electric 110 outlet at campground or hotel
Electric Hot plate
Yeah I know, we’re cheating and that’s not really camping.

Each travel day would be about 5-6 hrs based on trip computer, which meant 7-10 hrs due to having to charge to 100% from range hit of bicycles and racks.

Started with 1k of free supercharging miles which lasted about a week of the 7 week trip. Only used Tesla Superchargers.

Total Supercharging fees = $791.19
Miles = 11,934
KWH = 3,984
wh/mi = 334

Car was fine, no issues. Two days the temps reached 122 & 123 degrees Fahrenheit, 118 degrees at night. One sign we passed at a church read “No, it’s not hotter than Hell!” , thank you to them for the chuckle. Camp mode worked fine in these temps. Only one fix I’d suggest for camp mode, don’t turn headlights on when getting out of car in camp mode.

Big hit on range from bikes and racks. Trip computer calculation was always off at the start of a trip. I found charging to an arrival of 35% or higher would get us there with anywhere from 8% to 28% charge remaining upon arrival. All except 1 campground had 50amp, except the ones that had no electric hook up. Only had to divert course once due to the 30amp not giving us enough charge overnight to get to the next Supercharger. We had to go to the closest one in opposite direction to charge up enough to reach the original charger. For the non electric sites, charged up enough at a supercharger before the campground to get us through the night and onto the next supercharger. We charged to 100% many many many times in order to get the 35% arrival charge. Getting to 100 takes a lot of time. If there was a closer supercharger, I would charge a little less and stop there and charge again, rather than painfully wait for it to get close to 100% so I would have 35% upon arrival. Felt like the scene in cannon ball run where the pump is ever so slooooowwwwww.

Used Nav on Auto and Auto Pilot 98 - 99% of the time, gravel and dirt back roads had to drive manually, even if it was available I wouldn’t have tried it on those roads, gravel too loose and roads too rough. Almost everything that can be said about the Auto pilot and nav on auto pilot has already been discussed so will not rehash.

Except for this… The car absolutely does not read speed limit signs. Wow. It gives you a false sense that it is, until it isn’t. Some speed limit signs even showed up as a cone, yes a cone, with no orange even near them, others the sign were 65 and it read it as 45, three times in a row it did it. These were all the standard signs, nothing different about them. The worst is when it’s not reading the 65mph or 70mph and you pass it to no avail, you’ll be cruising at 40 or 45 mph for the next 20 or 25 miles until one that is loaded in the data map base is finally recognized. Then there’s the reads the 70mph sign and jumps to 70, goes a couple hundred yards down road and drops to 45 out of the blue. What the…. You have three options when this happens, manually drive, or leave in AP or NOA and work the gas manually and let car do the steering, or drop out of AP or NOA and scroll to 70 letting TACC maintain the speed while you manually steer. I liked working the gas and letting AP or NoA steer. Really disappointed that it is not reading speed limit signs, Tesla has had more than enough time to figure this one out.

Met a Model Y in South Dakota with a carrier and bikes on the back at a supercharger. I asked him how the range was with them back there, he said it’s like a 50% hit on range. So don’t know if on the back or roof really makes any difference on range hit. Maybe somebody can or did a study on the actuals.

Stop signs they seem to have nailed them, except when they are on an angle from a crossing road, you have to watch for that, otherwise you’ll think it’s a phantom braking event. Did see a guy holding a stop sign and when he turned it, it showed it on the screen, when he turned it again, it disappeared, that was neat.

Also just missed a Tesla Take Over event by the Madonna Inn. We were charging up there and they told us it was that weekend but we had to push on. Supposedly >800 cars were suppose to show up. Curious how they handle charging seeing there was maybe a dozen or so Superchargers at that stop.

Apologies for the rant on speed limit, but really, they still haven’t fixed it, very annoying especially when driving for hours and then dealing with that nonsense.

Other than that it was uneventful. Camping in a Tesla is very simple, cooler, hot plate, mattress and you’re good to go. Did I mention anything about the speed limit signs….
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,722
12,418
Riverside Co. CA
This was an interesting read, thanks for sharing. I think it would also be interesting to see a couple of pictures of your vehicle setup, for those interested. You mentioned it in your post, but I think it would also be interesting to see pictures of the bike rack, cooler, what the car looks possibly what the car looks like with the mattress in it, etc, if you have those and they are not too personal.
 

Magnetic

Member
Jan 11, 2020
72
179
Pennsylvania
This was an interesting read, thanks for sharing. I think it would also be interesting to see a couple of pictures of your vehicle setup, for those interested. You mentioned it in your post, but I think it would also be interesting to see pictures of the bike rack, cooler, what the car looks possibly what the car looks like with the mattress in it, etc, if you have those and they are not too personal.
Excellent point. Let me offload the the pics from Phone and post. The bed setup was posted by me a year or two ago. I'll see if I can find it on here. i didn't take any pics of the bed this time, but I do have the cooler and the bikes on rack. I'll put up in a bit. Thanks for the feedback.
 

sduck

Mr. Duck
Nov 6, 2017
1,530
1,594
Nashville TN
Nice report! As a veteran tesla road tripper also, I concur that it's a fabulous vehicle for long trips. And yes, it doesn't read speed limit signs at all, or at least so rarely that it's the same thing. I never use NOA on long trips - every once in a while I'll try it out, to see if it's gotten better, quickly discover that it hasn't, and stop using it.
 
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Magnetic

Member
Jan 11, 2020
72
179
Pennsylvania
Cooler and bikes on roof
 

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Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,706
2,682
In a galaxy far, far away
Big hit on range from bikes and racks...
Great review !!!

I have also a bike rack but I use it only for local trips. For long distances, since you didn't have rear passengers,
I think it would had been worthwhile to spend the extra time to remove the front wheels and keep your two bikes inside the car.
 
Last edited:

Magnetic

Member
Jan 11, 2020
72
179
Pennsylvania
Battery Level(s)
Forgot to post battery level at 100% charge. Hit 287 on first, then 285 and finally ended at 284. I think 287 was a fluke, 285 was more consistent for a couple weeks and then dropped to 284 for last couple weeks of trip. Appears to be tracking to what the battery posts say it will for a 3 year old vehicle. 310 mile battery now at 284 = ~8% loss over 3 years. I normally charge in the 80's % during daily usage when home, but to make the legs on this trip I had to go to 100% almost all the time.
 

Magnetic

Member
Jan 11, 2020
72
179
Pennsylvania
Great review !!!

I have also a bike rack but I use it only for local trips. For long distances, since you didn't have rear passengers,
I think it would had been worthwhile to spend the extra time to remove the front wheels and keep your two bikes inside the car.
Our clothing suitcases (soft gym bags) filled the otherside, camping chairs took up the floor space, mattress in trunk, so couldn't put bikes in back. Yes that would have been ideal if it could have been down.
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,706
2,682
In a galaxy far, far away
Our clothing suitcases (soft gym bags) filled the otherside, camping chairs took up the floor space, mattress in trunk, so couldn't put bikes in back. Yes that would have been ideal if it could have been down.
I agree that for a 7 weeks camping trip you have to carry a lot of sleeping and camping equipments and clothes.
And if you want to put a mattress using the flat rear floor to take a rest, you have to move all your stuff to the front seats.

For travelling, I am considering using a cargo box to store all the equipment outside of the car using a box on the roof rack or behind the car.
Bjørn Nyland, in his video "Tesla Model 3 with roof box on tow hitch", shown that the rear box has almost no effect or less than 5% on the range (7:07, 7:48)
and a box on the roof (11:35) would be around 13%. In this thread "Unscientific roof rack efficiency test (Model 3)" the author reported a consumption
going from 236 to 348 Wh/Mile (47%) with two bikes on the roof rack. So it seems that a roof box would less affects the range than two bikes on the roof.
 

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