How to Plan a Lengthy Tesla Road Trip
Electric vehicles have been growing in popularity for years now. People are looking for more sustainable options, and they are tired of paying expensive, fluctuating gas prices. While electric cars have been around for a while, it’s no secret that Tesla changed the electric car industry in a big way.
If you’ve followed millions of others in the allure of a car that can help save the planet, kind of looks like a spaceship, and can drive on its own, then you are most likely a Tesla owner already. Still, road trip lovers may be on the fence about this futuristic supercar, as America’s infrastructure was not built with electric cars in mind.
It may feel overwhelming to embark on a lengthy road trip with your brand new car, but Teslas have plenty of features that can actually make a lengthy trip easier and more enjoyable — and there are resources throughout the country that can ensure you stay safe (and charged!) for the duration of your trip.
If you are ready to get started on an exciting, lengthy cross-country road trip with your Tesla Model S, 3, X, or Y, you have come to the right place! We are here to give you Tesla-specific tips and tricks for exploring the country in style.
How Do I Plan a Long-Range Road Trip in a Tesla?
The first step in any road trip is to plan where you are going (and how you’re going to get there). There are countless sightseeing options between any two points in this beautiful country, so you need to be strategic with which ones you pick. Plus, you’ll need to consider where you’ll stop to sleep for the night, whether it’s a swanky hotel or an au naturel campground.
If planning your stops from Point A to Point B (and leaving room for unexpected explorations) feels challenging, we’re here to help!
Tesla Supercharger Map
One guide you should frequently reference when planning your road trip is the Tesla Supercharger map. As the name might have implied, this map will tell you where you can charge your Tesla, either at Supercharger or Tesla-brand destination charger locations. Downloading a third-party app like Plugshare as well can be helpful if you want to include non-Tesla chargers as options along your trip.
The amount of charge your battery holds depends on the specific model of your car, but it usually varies from 250 to 300 miles of range. However, you should plan to encounter a supercharger roughly every 100 to 200 miles to be safe. Make sure to factor EV charging time into your overall trip length.
While you are looking for your various lodgings, it may be a good time to reference the supercharger map and overall charging network and find somewhere you can charge up while you hit the pool. Plenty of hotels have EV chargers and even supercharger stations available to guests for an easy pit stop on a long-distance road trip.
Stay Somewhere You Can Charge Up Start With a Full Charge
Another reason it’s great to choose hotels or Airbnbs near with supercharger locations is that it’s always best to start your day with a full battery. Unlike certain electronic devices that require a battery to be fully depleted before recharging (here’s looking at you, iPhones), Tesla batteries do not have a similar charging memory.
You can charge your battery as often as you’d like without risking any damage to your car. In fact, it’s recommended that you start charging your Tesla battery anywhere from 20% to 80% full because getting to a full charge can take a while. That’s why staying somewhere you can charge overnight is such a useful road trip hack — plus, it’s healthier for your car battery to charge it slowly (like while you sleep).
Having your car start the day with a full battery will also eliminate the risk of getting stranded on the road if you get lost or need to make an unexpected detour. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to charging your car!
Plan Your Route in Advance
There are a few ways to plan an EV road trip as a Tesla driver. First, you can plug your desired destination into the touchscreen inside of your car’s navigation system and it will tell you the fastest route to get there. However, Elon Musk hasn’t come up with an update that provides options for spontaneity and exploration — yet.
The best and easiest way to plan your trip before hopping in your supercar is to use a tool that’s second nature to many of us: Google Maps. If you type in your first and last destination, Google will give you an estimate of how long your trip will take. This can help you plan how many times you’ll need to stop for a charge and visualize all of the possibilities for exciting stops.
Once you have picked your detours, figure out how long they will take, add them onto your road map, and factor in the added time. Once you have added the times of all of your detours, take the total time and add 25 percent. This will account for traffic, breaks, and unplanned stops.
Book your hotels, motels, Airbnbs, and campsites around your points of interest in advance. You can try to squeeze in two to three activities in a day, but you want to be sure that you have a place to stay at the end of the day when you’re done sightseeing.
What Are the Benefits of a Road Trip in a Tesla?
There are so many benefits to taking a Tesla on a road trip that conventional cars just can’t beat. Although learning all of the special features may take some time to get used to, we have listed out our favorite qualities of this car that can make road trips more enjoyable.
While you’re on a long road trip, you’ll probably encounter some environments that make driving difficult. Of course, we don’t recommend off-roading in your Tesla — there are better cars for a rough and tumble adventure. However, you won’t have to worry about your safety when driving a Tesla on the interstate or down country roads. Every Tesla model has a five-star rating in every safety category.
Teslas are designed to keep the driver and any passenger safe during a crash, but they are also designed to avoid crashes as well. With a combination of well-placed cameras and blind-spot detection, they will automatically brake if they sense a hazard around your car.
Part of the beauty of road trips is the long stretches of driving on highways or interstates in between points of interest.
Still, you’ll want to be able to take in the beautiful sights of America’s untouched country roads while still driving safely. It’s hard to keep your eyes on the road and on California’s unique Joshua trees, after all, or on the beauty of cities like New York and San Francisco.
Luckily, Teslas have an optional Autopilot feature that can take care of the driving for you without touching the steering wheel or worrying about the speed limit.
It seems too good to be true that your car can drive itself, but it is able to do so with eight external cameras and a powerful vision processing system. This enables the car to navigate other cars on roads, change lanes, and park itself.
The way you enable Autopilot will depend on which Tesla model you’re driving — but it’ll most likely be switched on by pulling twice on your gear selector stalk after enabling self-driving in your settings menu.
What Are Tesla’s Autopilot Features?
There are multiple awesome aspects of Tesla’s Autopilot functionality. These features include:
- Lane Keeping: Using a variety of cameras — as well as proximity sensors — will allow your car to remain driving safely inside of your lane.
- Collision Avoidance: Once again, Tesla uses cameras and proximity sensors to create a map of what is around the car. If the vehicle senses a collision (by what it sees in the cameras and sensors) it will make evasive maneuvers or alert the driver they are in danger.
- Traffic-Aware Cruise Control: While cruise control is a common feature in cars, Teslas have a near-perfect cruise control system. The car is able to take vehicle spacing into account and ensure you are at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
- Auto Lane Changing: If your car senses another car that is right in front of you that is going slower than you, it can find open space in lines beside you and change lanes safely and automatically.
- Auto Parking: Using cameras and sensory processors, Teslas have the ability to parallel park without the help of the driver.
- Navigate on Autopilot- This allows the car to make the changes necessary to arrive at the destination at an efficient pace. If you plug in a destination and navigate on Autopilot, you will be guaranteed to arrive at your destination by the estimated time. The car will do this by making lane changes when necessary and keeping pace with the set speed.
- Full Self Driving: This is the most sophisticated Autopilot software that Tesla offers. Full self-driving includes navigating on Autopilot, auto parking, and city street driving. This is the total package of a self-driving car.
When Shouldn’t You Use Tesla Autopilot?
Even though your Tesla can do the work for you, remember that you’re always responsible for your car. While you can take this opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds around you, it’s not the time to take a nap or make a snack.
Part of this is because the car itself won’t let you completely disregard road safety (thankfully) — it will start chirping at you if your hands are off the while for more than a few minutes. If you insist on staying hands-free, your car will slow down until your hands are back where they’re supposed to be.
Beyond that, Autopilot can shut off without warning. This usually happens when it can’t detect lane markings or if you push down too hard on your wheel. Above all, remember not to use Autopilot on side streets or country roads. While this is an awesome feature to help prevent road fatigue or give you an opportunity to enjoy the landscape around you, it’s only meant for highway use.
Even on the freeway, some stationary cars or sudden movements won’t be detected with autopilot — and that’s where you come in. Always be prepared to intervene in case of a technological slip up (like drifting into oncoming traffic in a two-lane road) or human error (like another car suddenly appearing).
Make the Trip Exciting
Now that you have your road trip planned (and you have some Tesla tricks up your sleeve), it’s time to think about entertainment. No matter how many special features you use on your Tesla, you will be spending a lot of time in the car during your lengthy road trip. Autio helps you make the most of your time on the road with bite-sized stories to help you get to know the world around you.
Autio is a location-based audio platform that shares stories about the people, places, and history of the land they are traveling through. This will allow you to learn about the landscape you are driving through during your road trip, making every space you pass through even more exciting.
Autio connects generations by bringing the landscape to life through sharing stories that surprise, inform, and delight the listener.
If you’d like to learn about the history and related stories about the highways, cities, towns, and spaces you are driving through, sign up to gain access to thousands of bite-sized, location-based, audio clips here!