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Will my family hate me for taking our first road trip down I-95 this Thanksgiving?

LukeA

Member
May 17, 2018
16
11
Charlotte, NC
We recently took delivery of our Tesla Model Y and typically visit family around Thanksgiving driving from Charlotte, NC to Orlando. FL. In the past we've always used our ICE van and beyond some heavier traffic haven't had a problem.

We'd like to take the Model Y down but I've read stories from years past with huge waits at superchargers during the holidays. We have 3 kids and I think if the route calculated from a better route planner is correct, everything would be fine. But if you throw in an extra 30-45 minutes at each stop either due to having to wait for other vehicles or slow charging, it will be a horrible trip.

Are we better off just taking our ICE vehicle around holidays or should a Thanksgiving trip in the Tesla be ok?
 

glide

Active Member
Jun 6, 2018
3,779
5,304
USA
We recently took delivery of our Tesla Model Y and typically visit family around Thanksgiving driving from Charlotte, NC to Orlando. FL. In the past we've always used our ICE van and beyond some heavier traffic haven't had a problem.

We'd like to take the Model Y down but I've read stories from years past with huge waits at superchargers during the holidays. We have 3 kids and I think if the route calculated from a better route planner is correct, everything would be fine. But if you throw in an extra 30-45 minutes at each stop either due to having to wait for other vehicles or slow charging, it will be a horrible trip.

Are we better off just taking our ICE vehicle around holidays or should a Thanksgiving trip in the Tesla be ok?
If you are concerned with 30-45 minute charging stops you should absolutely not take a Tesla during a holiday weekend. Or…ever really.
 

Twiglett

Single pedal driver
Oct 3, 2014
3,034
3,119
Austin
We recently took delivery of our Tesla Model Y and typically visit family around Thanksgiving driving from Charlotte, NC to Orlando. FL. In the past we've always used our ICE van and beyond some heavier traffic haven't had a problem.

We'd like to take the Model Y down but I've read stories from years past with huge waits at superchargers during the holidays. We have 3 kids and I think if the route calculated from a better route planner is correct, everything would be fine. But if you throw in an extra 30-45 minutes at each stop either due to having to wait for other vehicles or slow charging, it will be a horrible trip.

Are we better off just taking our ICE vehicle around holidays or should a Thanksgiving trip in the Tesla be ok?
you could do what we used to do
Take the ICE and spend the whole trip regretting it ;)
It really depends what you plan on doing with the kids at stops. If you expect it to be a gas stop where you trap the kids in the car it will likely suck - or you treat like an EV stop, where everyone gets out and explores while the car charges, then the kids whine because its time to leave already :D
The car will tell you when its time to leave.
 
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LukeA

Member
May 17, 2018
16
11
Charlotte, NC
If you are concerned with 30-45 minute charging stops you should absolutely not take a Tesla during a holiday weekend. Or…ever really.
Sorry if I wasn't clear, I'm not concerned with normal charge times, I'm concerned with 30-45 minutes ADDITIONAL waiting and/or slow charging beyond the expected charging time. For example, ABR predicts 4 supercharger stops between 10-21 minutes of charging for a total of 1 hour 1 minute of charging which is fine. However, if that changed to an additional 30-45 minutes at each stop, we are looking at 1 hour of charging vs 3 hours+ of charging which would not be fine.
 

srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,231
1,502
Woonsocket, RI
AFAIK, most or all of the stories about overcrowded Supercharger stations originate in California. Tesla's been having a hard time building out enough Supercharger capacity there, given the rapid pace of Tesla sales in the state. Personally, I've never had to wait for a Supercharger, although I did see Supercharger stations fill up to 100% capacity on two occasions -- once was just before Christmas of 2019 at a station in New York State, and the other was July 5 of this year in New Jersey. These were both 6-stall (or at most 8-stall) stations, IIRC. I didn't see anybody waiting either time, and the second time, the station was 100% full for all of a minute or two before somebody left. More often, Supercharger stations are severely under-capacity when I use them. An 8- or 10-stall station with just one or two cars charging is pretty common.

That said, Thanksgiving is one of the (if not the) biggest travel days in the US, so if overcrowding at Superchargers is likely on any given day, it would be Thanksgiving.

If you'll be traveling with another adult and kids, you could always make a contingency plan: If the Supercharger station is full when you arrive, then everybody but the driver can get out and go to eat or whatever, perhaps ordering for the driver. Then only the driver will be stuck waiting in the car. Chances are the wait will be much shorter than the 30-45 minutes you fear.
 

glide

Active Member
Jun 6, 2018
3,779
5,304
USA
Sorry if I wasn't clear, I'm not concerned with normal charge times, I'm concerned with 30-45 minutes ADDITIONAL waiting and/or slow charging beyond the expected charging time. For example, ABR predicts 4 supercharger stops between 10-21 minutes of charging for a total of 1 hour 1 minute of charging which is fine. However, if that changed to an additional 30-45 minutes at each stop, we are looking at 1 hour of charging vs 3 hours+ of charging which would not be fine.
There will likely be additional wait times on a holiday weekend. Especially on parts of 95.
 
Oct 31, 2019
274
412
Murica
I haven’t traveled through I-95 during that time, but I’ve done Atlanta to Orlando down I-75 during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays without a wait.

There just isn’t that many Tesla’s on the east coast yet.
 

Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
6,765
8,354
Boise, ID
but I've read stories from years past with huge waits at superchargers during the holidays
AFAIK, most or all of the stories about overcrowded Supercharger stations originate in California.
This.
It's just not an issue anywhere else outside of California. They have a much higher density of Teslas and have been having some trouble keeping up with building capacity there.
 

RTPEV

Active Member
Mar 21, 2016
1,030
1,195
Durham, NC
This is always going to be a tough one to answer, because it's all going to depend on what's going on at that time at that place. It's kind of tough to give an authoritative answer.

That said, I will share my experience and advice. I haven't driven south on I-95 from NC, but I've driven north to the Washington, DC area. I've driven on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, July 3rd and July 5th. In all those trips I have not even experienced a Supercharger site more than 50% full. That said, I specifically chose large sites for my stops (Glen Allen, VA and Springfield, VA).

I did make a stops on non-holiday periods at Fredericksburg, VA and Chester, VA and found both of those sites could be very busy (although not quite full). The Chester, VA stop in particular was interesting because I had been monitoring the stall availability at that site as we were driving down I-95 and it was initially pretty empty and then very suddenly got full. When we arrived we pulled into the last available spot, and then as quickly as it had filled up, everyone suddenly left and we were one of the last two cars at that site! I will note that that was right around dinner time, and not that a Wawa is the ideal meal stop (although it's not bad either), maybe people were timing their stop around that time?

So in the end, I don't think that you have too much to worry about. As others have said, the congestion horror stories mostly come out of California. And an additional 30-45 minutes of queuing is probably not realistic. At a reasonably sized site there is probably decent flow through it, so even in the event of a full site the wait might only be 10 minutes. I'd be more worried about the impact of charge sharing at V2 sites--that will extend your charging times somewhat from what ABRP predicts.

My advice is twofold: first, aim for larger (8+ stalls), V3 sites if possible, but have a backup plan in place (both before and after your target stops). And then use ABRP in the car to monitor stall availability. You can do this with the car's nav system of course, but it's very clunky. ABRP puts it front-and-center in the display (with their version of the trip energy graph if you've enabled it). That way you can easily monitor your target site's availability as you are driving towards it and then make a call as to whether you need to choose an alternate one that's less busy.
1628951483005.png
 

Darmie

Super Member
Supporting Member
Jan 13, 2016
2,055
1,360
Clear Lake TX.
I think you will be fine. With the Nav screen showing you at a glance of how many stalls are open, you can pick and choose as you get down the road.
 
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LukeA

Member
May 17, 2018
16
11
Charlotte, NC
This is always going to be a tough one to answer, because it's all going to depend on what's going on at that time at that place. It's kind of tough to give an authoritative answer.

That said, I will share my experience and advice. I haven't driven south on I-95 from NC, but I've driven north to the Washington, DC area. I've driven on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, July 3rd and July 5th. In all those trips I have not even experienced a Supercharger site more than 50% full. That said, I specifically chose large sites for my stops (Glen Allen, VA and Springfield, VA).

I did make a stops on non-holiday periods at Fredericksburg, VA and Chester, VA and found both of those sites could be very busy (although not quite full). The Chester, VA stop in particular was interesting because I had been monitoring the stall availability at that site as we were driving down I-95 and it was initially pretty empty and then very suddenly got full. When we arrived we pulled into the last available spot, and then as quickly as it had filled up, everyone suddenly left and we were one of the last two cars at that site! I will note that that was right around dinner time, and not that a Wawa is the ideal meal stop (although it's not bad either), maybe people were timing their stop around that time?

So in the end, I don't think that you have too much to worry about. As others have said, the congestion horror stories mostly come out of California. And an additional 30-45 minutes of queuing is probably not realistic. At a reasonably sized site there is probably decent flow through it, so even in the event of a full site the wait might only be 10 minutes. I'd be more worried about the impact of charge sharing at V2 sites--that will extend your charging times somewhat from what ABRP predicts.

My advice is twofold: first, aim for larger (8+ stalls), V3 sites if possible, but have a backup plan in place (both before and after your target stops). And then use ABRP in the car to monitor stall availability. You can do this with the car's nav system of course, but it's very clunky. ABRP puts it front-and-center in the display (with their version of the trip energy graph if you've enabled it). That way you can easily monitor your target site's availability as you are driving towards it and then make a call as to whether you need to choose an alternate one that's less busy.
View attachment 696508
Thank you! This is great advice. We'll plan on giving it a go then and hopefully all works out well. I'll have to try a mini-trip beforehand to see how ARB works when traveling, I've only tried their desktop route planner so far.
 
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Jccope64

Member
Feb 24, 2020
36
20
North carolina
A lot of new V3 chargers have gone up on i95, I wouldn’t worry about it . I’ve pulled up and taken the last spot at a charger one time since I had the car , 99% of the time there may be one or two cars there charging.
 

Earl

Member
Jan 22, 2014
250
306
USA
Keep in mind that Teslas charge so fast that, even if all stations are full when you arrive, one will open up fairly soon because someone will be finished. The more stations, of course, the faster cars cycle through.
 

Unclepaul

Member
Jan 15, 2020
25
30
SoCal
Even on the busiest days, there usually are only certain times that will be congested.

Relying on ABRP will only make this worse as they give the same advice to all their members.

Most begin their holiday trips early, and with a full charge. They all want to drive till 10-20% empty then all flock into the chargers at the same time. This causes congestions early afternoon.

A great way to travel on busy days is to use your intelligence. Maybe stop when you are still 1/2 way full and again after the mobs have left. It may take you a few minutes to charge, but that is way better than waiting in line with anxious kids.

Your Tesla display will show, in real time, the number of open stalls. When you see things getting busy simply swoop in for some juice, then back on your way. You may find this makes longer trips even easier on the kids. Give them a chance to walk around, grab a snack, see all the other Teslas, and use the bathroom. You will find the trip taking a little longer, but everybody will arrive much more refreshed. Focus more on the journey than on the destination.

On Thanksgiving holidays even the gas pumps have long lines of people waiting, expecially if you want to go to one of the cheaper places like Costco or Walmart. Avoid these in the same manner. With kids on board it is often worth the little extra $ to avoid the places with long lines.

I imagine that on next Thanksgiving, Gas prices in many places will exceed $5.00 Gallon. This is just part of wanting to travel on the busiest days of the year.
 

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