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A month and a half ago I bought a used Model S. Over the holidays I flew to visit my sister. While I was there I got a bit frustrated with my ICE rental car and thought, "Why didn't I just drive instead of fly?" So now I'm thinking about what road trips I want to take with my Tesla. My normal Summer road trip is easy - I know exactly where the SuperChargers are and I have already done the trip (had to in order to get the car back from where I bought it). But these other road trips I'm thinking about taking make me a bit more nervous because they're longer distances, involve more mountains, there are weather issues, etc.

So it got me thinking... what are the kinds of things you do to make Tesla road trips comfortable?
Do you use a special trip planner tool? Do you book hotels that have destination chargers? Do you camp in your car?
Let's hear all the great Road Trip Advice!
 
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A Better Routeplanner is a good tool. I also use evtripplanner.com and find they compliment each other. I really trust the car's nav system a lot. I've driven back and forth between Central PA and Austin, TX a number of times and it can be extremely accurate. I also use the consumption chart under trips. I keep that up on the screen since it gives me a running track of how my energy consumption is doing compared to my plan. Lets me know if I need to tuck in behind an 18-wheeler for awhile to bring my consumption down.
 

ewoodrick

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Apr 13, 2018
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Buford, GA
A road trip...

First, look at the locations of Superchargers and destination chargers along and near your route.
Check PlugShare for J-1772 plugs along the trip, especially in sections where Tesla charging may be a little sparse
If staying in hotels, look for properties that have charging solutions, even 120V plugs can be very useful

Next, try to arrange car and human fill-ups at the same time. Try not to stop "just to charge" stop for a meal, stop for a bio-break, stop to sight-see.

To me, a real road trip may have a defined start and end point, but the route and duration may be variable. Look for sights along the way. Take the side roads, in the summer they are often much cooler. At any time, they will tend to slow you down to enjoy the countryside, but they also increase range and in a number of instances are even shorter.
Use apps like Yelp to find unique eating experiences along the way.

Don't be afraid to take an exist, just for the heck of it. Go places you haven't been. And if tired, aside from stopping, side roads often get you out of the monotony of Interstate driving.

And a real road trip is why you wanted to familiarize yourself with charging opportunities, as opposed to a specific route. It gives you the opportunity to zig and zag and still feel comfortable getting to your destination.

Honestly, I fly all over the US and have seen most of it from the air. Driving along the Interstate isn't much different. Getting off the Interstate is where you find out what this country has to offer.
 
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I found that the nav is really good at estimating the consumption but recently drove with skis on the roof in really windy and cold weather and it did a poor job as to be expected.
I would do a really conservative drive to first supercharger and then adjust some the next and adjust more the next.
Unless you are in extreme conditions like I was I think the estimate on nav is good.
I was driving in 0 degree F and 35mph cross wind. Nav was off by 25% sometimes more, I think 10-15% of that was the skis compounded by the extreme wind.
 
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I've used evtripplanner too. In 2016 I used it to plan my route from MA to CA and back, after scheduling a Tesla factory tour. I printed out a bunch of pages and charts, with charge times and how many miles I needed to charge up to at each supercharger to minimize my travel time. Mostly I didn't use my charts, and ended up skipping a few chargers - after striking up conversations at superchargers, I often left with many more miles than I needed.

I was alone, and slept in the car. I used some lawn furniture mats to level the back with the seats down, and used a sleeping bag. When I needed a shower, I found a state park with a campground and used the shower at the restrooms.
I travel with breakfast cereal, a small cooler with a quart of milk and some OJ. I refill the cooler with ice from a hotel while supercharging, and keep a couple bottles of water in there. The case of water usually sits in the front trunk "microwave" area that my classic has.

It was a fabulous trip: Hoover Dam, Death Valley, Yosemite, Pacific Coast Highway, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Badlands, Niagara Falls... I took 2 weeks off work because of timing. I wished I had 3.

I enjoyed my trip that year so much, I was looking for an excuse for another road trip. The 2017 eclipse was the catalyst. This time I did no preparation for the routing at all, I only printed out maps of where the eclipse was going to occur. My destination was to be determined by keeping an eye on the weather, looking for the least cloudy area. I headed west, and after a day had driven from MA to OH, and the weather indicated it wasn't worth going any further west; so I spent a day at the National Museum of the Air Force near Dayton (which I stumbled on), then made my way down to TN.
This trip confirmed that you don't really need to do too much planning with the supercharger network built out as it is. (Aside from ND and a few other exceptions, of course.)

As long as you're not in a critical time crunch, it's no problem at all. I don't even have NAV in my car (no "Tech Package"). I just clicked on a supercharger on the map which gave me straight-line distance, added 50% or so to that and made sure I had at least that many range miles before I left. In the summertime, I usually beat the rated miles driving at posted limits; even with AC. The extra miles gave me the freedom to take side trips if I saw something interesting, and cover for elevation changes or poor weather.

For me, it's pack some clothes, water, breakfast, some apples to munch on (I found that if I open a big bag of chips it's half empty before I realize it), and just drive.
 
•Be aware that the "EPA rated miles" number displayed on the dash is NOT the distance you can travel — how far you can actually go depends on speed and weather and it is nearly always different from the RM miles number. If you have a tendency to obsess over that number, it is best to change it to "battery percent" instead. Nav uses percent so that's more useful anyway.

•In general, the best road trip time is from charging only enough to make the next Supercharger Station, plus whatever buffer you are comfortable with (I'd recommend about 20% for newcomers to road trips). Often I find that the car is ready to go before I am and that's ok. If you want to stop for longer — for a meal, perhaps — you can charge longer and perhaps skip the next Supercharger Station; otherwise, it is best to make more, shorter, Supercharging stops than a few long Supercharging stops. Charging to near full is a very slow way to do road trips because the charge rate tapers as the battery fills. I sometimes see road trip newbies try to fill the battery and strongly recommend against it. It isn't like driving an ICE car — you don't "fill the tank" at each fuel stop on a Tesla road trip!

•Tesla's nav is quite good at estimating the battery percentage at the destination in mild weather conditions. My advice is to keep an eye on that number and if it starts falling — perhaps due to a headwind, for example — start slowing down right away. When you slow down enough that the battery percent at the next Supercharger stop stops falling, you will be ok. Once you know from experience that you will make the next stop you can then speed up again.

•Be aware that when driving in cold weather, not only is range reduced, but Supercharging speed is also reduced if you try to charge first thing in the morning on a cold battery. If you don't have overnight destination charging, it is best to Supercharge the night before while the battery is still warm from driving. Then you can just head out the next morning without charging. Saves time.

•I find that I really appreciate the charging stops to get a chance to hit the restroom and just walk around. I find Tesla road trips more fun than I did in ICE cars where I was trying to drive as far as possible without stopping. A Tesla road trip is more relaxed. Just kick back and enjoy the journey!


My 2¢. (I've made more than 266 Supercharging stops, every one of them on a road trip, since I have no local Supercharger Stations where I live.)
 
We carry a CHAdeMo adapter when we travel and we book the destination charger at the same time as we book a room. We keep 20% range as contingency in case our planned charger stop is out of order and as stated we enjoy the relaxed pace of Supercharging rests instead of non stop high speed travel in an ICE. We have no range anxiety when the trip is well planned and we carry a full sized spare and tools to ensure that we remain on schedule.

If you are a sailor or pilot, planning a Tesla cruise is a very similar experience. There should be no surprise or crisis along the way which is a true sign of competence.
 
...try to arrange car and human fill-ups at the same time. Try not to stop "just to charge" stop for a meal, stop for a bio-break, stop to sight-see....

+1 on this ^

One thing I noticed during the last two small trips, long gone the days where you would see just a handful of Teslas on the road. Now they are everywhere and in big numbers. SuperCharging stations used to be empty, with just one to two cars. Now, you might have to wait. If you have a choice, select a SuperCharging station with a lot of slots (use the car nav to see the number of slots). Avoid the ones with 2 or 4 slots (if possible)

If your destination (hotel, home, whatever) has some kind of fast charging, you are fine. But if not, make sure you calculate and leave enough battery to allow you to go back to the last (or closest to your destination) SuperCharger. Unfortunately the navigation doesn't count for that (long awaited feature...)
 
I took a 3200 mile Road trip from Maryland to Houston Tx and back. Model S 75D. rated mile 240 at 100% state of charge. Free Super Charging. I made a spread sheet that tracked miles driven between super chargers (SC) and duration. To do this plot all SC locations. You will get entire Trip time and miles. Next obtain miles and duration between individual SC (I.e. 143 miles 2 hrs, etc.). Autopilot was used 98% except during rain in the dark. I had one experience where the AP alert was actually a red steering wheel with red hands, different from the usual white highlight around the dash bezel. I planned to drive about 400 miles per day, about 8 hrs including charge time. The only other limiter is booking hotels in advance. On day one I cloud have driven another 2 hours but hotel was already booked.

Tips
1. Adjust steering wheel before charging otherwise you won't be able to rotate it like you want.
2. Investigate charging options at your destination if staying in destination location. There was a local SC about 8 miles away from my brothers house during my stay.
3. Destination charge percentage seems to increase when starting to drive than that shown after immediately charging. (I.e. 7% verses 20%). It always rose to a higher % after driving again.
4. Set car to range mode to conserve energy. AC and Heat are not as effective though, but you can get the car comfortable.
5. Set energy to 5 minutes interval on energy consumption graph to see when car is going up and down inclines. You can also tell when you are running efficient when your projected miles are more than miles displayed on odometer.
6. When navigating don’t forget to press begin trip or continue trip, it shows more details when you do.
7. When car is set to 100% car will charge enough to get you to next destination. If you don’t pay attention car will reset to continue to charge to 100% wasting time.
 
We’ve travelled all around Europe in our Tesla S 100d and did a 1,500m circular road road trip in France this summer [see Trip A, attached]

Loads of grood advice above, top 3 for me and our family:

1. Take every adaptor you can and prepare to be creative: we’ve used ChaDeMo often, used municipal charge points if needed, ran a cable form a farmhouse we stayed in: embrace it

2. Enjoy the new pace of EV touring and take the chance to explore unexpected places - we discovered some incredible villages, towns, restaurants by taking a charge

3. Most important: be brave when route planning. Our Telsa is our first EV and we were very cautious when we began, but now we plan for 5% charger arrival. You can always slow down if you’re worried the Trip view heads toward zero.

Enjoy!
 

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Echoing what others have said.

1) evtripplanner.com
Make sure you set comparable scenarios to get better accuracy. I.e. if it is snowing put it in the calculator.

2) drive speed limit.

3) if winter driving plan for 30% reduction in rates range.

4) dont get lost if you are low in charge.

Those will address the range anxiety. For other things like flat tires and such, I carry a spare on road trips just in case.
 
I just drove from LA to Tahoe with a model s and back. On the way, I took the road through Mammoth and on the way back, stopped at Kettleman City. Great experience.

Lots of families, games, coffee, snacks and lots of meh/fast-food dining options nearby.
 
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Road flares and reflective triangles because 12 Volt battery are known to go bad or if HV battery has problems (or you run out of charge accidently) it will quickly kill the 12 Volt. Think no emergency flashers.

Doesn't hurt to have a emergency 12 volt jump battery/light or spare tire (I have neither). Be prepared to wait a long time on hold if you need Tesla roadside service.

Patch/plug kit for tires. Plugshare app on your phone is a great backup or assist. If stranded on a flat surface, block your tires and put in tow mode right away before 12 volt goes dead (however, Tow trucks can jump if needed to power up display for tow mode).

Water, snacks and warm clothes for cold weather travel. I was stranded in a snow storm on a Sunday night and Tesla service could not locate any Tow drivers that could make it before morning. Tip, local police always have Tow drivers at the ready.

Your car is excellent at navigation and estimating your trip through Superchargers. In addition,Just telling it to "navigate to the nearest charging station" will pull up those that you can use adapters when in a pinch.

I have left out the other great ideas/things that others have already mentioned.

Have fun and don't sweat it...
 

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