Tesla Road Trip Tips

So you are ready for your first long road trip. Here are some tips.

Invite a Passenger along

Driving with a passenger is more entertaining, allows you to switch drivers, and gives you someone who can plan ahead while you drive. I’ll mention a few activities below that the passenger can do while on the road. If you drive alone, do them while charging.

Plan with A Better Route Planner and Plug Share

Plan your trip with the A Better Route Planner Website (ABRP). The UX is not great, but you can get used to it, and you are not using it for the UX, but for the underlying routing, with all the options you need. Install the app on your phone, too, just in case. Consider supporting them.

Use Plugshare to find lodging with chargers or chargers close to a stop you want to make anyway. Plugshare reviews are a good source to learn more about each charger, e.g. where the closest bathrooms are.

When driving, use the in car navigation. It’s rarely worth using ABRP on a single segment. Also the energy graph allows you to monitor if you can make it. I shoot for 10% at arrival, and if the energy graph drops to the single digits while still far away (50 miles +), I’ll slow down…

Also, if you route to the Supercharger the car will pre-condition the battery for faster charging times. You should always do that, except when you are barely able to reach it.

Charge to 80% only

Be aware that charging from 10%-70% is much faster than from 30%-90%. If you arrive at a Supercharger with 25%, you spent too much time on the previous one. On the other hand, if you arrive with 5%, you might have had some anxiety on the way. I charge enough so that I arrive with 10% at arrival in good conditions, more if it’s raining or cold.

If you plug in over night and go to 100%, your first drive of the day can be 3 hours/200 miles. But after that, you typically will only charge to 80%. Also SC may not be perfectly placed, and you may have to stop a bit before your range, so plan to stop about every 2 hours for 20 minutes.

Don’t worry about charging to 100% if you are plugged in anyway, e.g. if you are having a long, sit down dinner. Just don’t wait around waiting to go from 80%-100% unless you need it for the next segment.

Multitask Every Stop

It’s beneficial to multi-task every stop. Use it for a bio-break. Make sure you know what the next segment is, maybe two segments out. Take a few stops and stretch. Take a short nap. Find other things to do, including shopping, eating, and even sightseeing.

On I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, charge at Yermo, CA, over Baker and Barstow if it works out for you. Yermo has Eddie’s World, which is ideal for snack shopping (or just browsing) while you charge.

Prefer Superchargers with activities. You might not stop for that specific activity if you were in an ICE, but you are not, you are stopping at that location, and you might as well enjoy the local attractions.

Sometimes you have a choice between Superchargers. Have your passengers pick the more scenic one. Sometimes there is no choice and nothing to do (Baker, CA, I am taking to you!)

The Moab, UT supercharger is right in town, with plenty of restaurants and shops and even a visitor center around (and lodging). Moab is a great town to spend a night anyway, and at least peak at Arches NP. Or rent a Jeep and go off-roading. They likely will be ICE, but Barlow said they ordered electric Jeeps.

If you skip Moab and stay on I-70 through Utah, stop in Green River, UT. The John Wesley Powell River History Museum is right next to the Supercharger. Time your drive so it’s open, but they have a free outdoor exhibits, which is be enough by itself. You think charging an EV is a pain? Tell that to the river runners.

Also, carry Windex and paper towels and clean the wind shield at the SC. You ain’t doing gas stations no more.

Order Take Out Food ahead before charging

A typical charge stop is not enough to order food, wait for it, and eat it. If you want a sit down meal, and take an hour out of your drive, go for it. Especially in awesome restaurants. But if you want to minimize down time, order ahead. We even order ahead for Starbucks. Instead of spending 10 minutes in the drive through or waiting for a drink inside, we order ahead (through the app). We park at the SC, plug in, then go pick up the drinks and use the bathroom, come back, and often are already good to go.

The last charger approaching Yosemite from the West on 120 is in Groveland, CA. The Pizza Factory is just before the supercharger. You may not have signal approaching Groveland, so call them from your last charging stop (maybe Manteca, CA) and order Pizza. Then pick up the Pizza, use the bathroom at the Pizzeria, and eat it at the picnic tables in the cute garden behind the supercharger. If you don’t want Pizza, there are other options, too.

Charge at Night If You Can, but don’t go out of your Way for it.

Charge at night if possible (hotel or campground). Best thing is to sleep in your charging Tesla, with the AC on. But don’t go out of your way for it. Charging after arrival during dinner is quick, or even while having breakfast. It’s not worth driving an extra 20 miles to get lodging with charger, when you can charge to 80% in 20 minutes at the SC.

Get off the Interstate

This tip has nothing to do with EVs. Don’t be afraid to get off the interstate. The most beautiful places are not along the major freeways. Your tax dollars pay for the National Parks, and the local tax dollars pay for the state parks. Enjoy them.

If you are the person who doesn’t have paint protection film because “it’s just a car!”, then you can go on dirt roads. Always ask locally for current conditions, as many roads are perfectly fine when dry, but if it rains (or worse, snow), even your AWD won’t help you with road tires and clearance may also be an issue. Always carry enough water.

Driving down the Burr Trail.

Accessorize your Car

Check out my Tesla Road Trip Checklist for accessories.

Last Updated on October 29, 2021.