How to Road Trip with a Tesla

tesla model x roadtrip

If you have a Tesla, you already know what an economic and low-impact vehicle it is. Long road trips with Teslas are even more convenient.

When road tripping with your Tesla, you simply need to plan your route around available charging stations on the way and enjoy the advanced technology designed to assist you in driving. Road trips with Teslas are a convenient and efficient mode of travel. 

Read on to discover the perks of traveling in your Tesla and how to make the most of your road trip with their available features and accessories. 

Tesla’s Route Planning Tool

Each model of Tesla has its own built-in road trip planner! This is an easy and useful tool for anyone trying to plan their road trip. You simply enter your location and destination, and Tesla does the rest of the work.

Go Anywhere Tool with Tesla

The Go Anywhere Tool is much like Google Maps or other navigation systems. Rather than planning the quickest route, it searches for the fastest routes with the most Tesla superchargers and destination chargers available.

It’s important to note that this option does not specifically search for hotels or accommodations along your route; you will be responsible for booking these on your own.

This tool will route your trip through the locations with the most destination and superchargers available, so you’ll never have to worry about being stranded without power. You may have to adjust your route if there aren’t any available stations, however, or check into non-Tesla charging options (more details on those options below). 

The Go Anywhere Tool  is packed with handy information and provides:

  • Information regarding how long to charge at the station to make it to the destination or next charging station
  • Available on your touch screen display’s Navigation function
  • Customizable routes: you can make adjustments to Tesla’s recommended route
  • Information regarding how many stalls are currently open and what charging rate is available at each

For example, entering a starting point of Seattle, Washington, and a destination of San Francisco, California, the Go Anywhere tool provides the following Supercharger station recommendations, assuming a Model 3 Standard Tesla starting with a full charge:

  • 15 min charge in Woodburn, OR
  • 35 min charge in Springfield, OR
  • 30 min charge in Grants Pass, OR
  • 35 min charge in Mount Shasta, CA
  • 20 min charge in Williams, CA

You have the option to see available destination chargers at each of these stations as well. The Go Anywhere Tool is designed to be user-friendly and simple, routing you toward Tesla’s own charging stations. Luckily, there are other available options for charging if Tesla stations are not readily available in your desired location.

Charging Your Tesla on a Road Trip

All Teslas are electric, meaning the usual gas station stops are unnecessary. However, they still require energy, and charging your Tesla will be the most important part of planning your road trip.

When planning your route, it’s a good idea to plan your charge stops around your regular meal and bathroom breaks. Some of these chargers will fully charge your Tesla in the amount of time it takes to eat a meal at a restaurant. 

By doing this, you virtually eliminate the “charging time” you would wait, by engaging in necessary activities (restroom, meals) during that time, your car charges when it would otherwise be sitting empty anyway. As a benefit, most charging stations are located in convenient places for this reason.

There are two in-network, Tesla-based options for charging your Tesla on a road trip:

  • Tesla Destination Chargers
  • Tesla Superchargers

With either charger, your Tesla Owners app (available on iOS and Android) will provide real-time updates from your car regarding charge level, and you pay for charges from your Tesla owner’s account with both.

Tesla claims that they are opening six new charging stations every week, so accessibility is always increasing.

Using Destination Chargers to Charge Your Tesla

Destination chargers are the most common charging port for your Tesla. They are housed by Tesla’s “Charging Partners” worldwide and trade a charging location for (hopefully) more business, as their charging station is listed on Tesla’s software.

There are over 4,500 destination charging stations, with variations in the number of ports available at each station. Some stations may only have 2 or 3 ports, while others can have dozens.

These destination chargers are generally found in places where you’d be spending a moderate amount of time, such as:

  • Restaurants
  • Hotels

These chargers are the slower of the two options, with an average of adding about 37.5 miles of range per hour of charge. To maximize your time, try to utilize these chargers when you stop overnight or have the time to leave your car for several hours, like when hiking or exploring a downtown area for the day. 

Another perk of these chargers is that they are usually free to use as long as you are a patron of the facility you are charging (hotels, for example).

If you’re on your route and need a quick boost to reach your next overnight stop on your road trip, a supercharger station is going to be the best choice. 

Supercharging your Tesla on a Road Trip

There has been a recent upgrade to charging your Tesla. In addition to the standard Destination Chargers, a Supercharger has been developed. Superchargers have been installed on popular routes and in densely populated areas, such as:

Where to Find Tesla SuperChargers

  • Main interstates
  • Parking Garages in urban areas
  • Downtown areas/city centers
  • Grocery stores

There are currently over 2,000 Supercharger stations in the US, with over 20,000 individual Supercharging stalls available. This charging station can fully charge any Tesla model under an hour and a half, or roughly 70 minutes.

Why Superchargers are Useful

With a supercharger, Teslas are designed to charge up to 80% capacity in the first 40 minutes of charging. The rate then slows to protect the battery, but a full charge isn’t necessary. If you find yourself needing a quick charge before your next destination, this is the best option.

Cost also increases with the superchargers the more charged you get. For this reason, many drivers choose to supercharge more often throughout the day, taking advantage of the cheaper and faster 80% charge over the full 100% charge.

Cost of Using Superchargers

The cost in the US is roughly $0.28 per kWh, or you can pay by the minute. These are $0.24 per minute above 60kW and $0.12 per minute at or below 60kW. These rates can vary by region and time of year.

Some supercharger stations have peak and non-peak rates. This information is available on your touch screen display or will be posted at the supercharger stations, high-traffic times may increase the cost of a charge.

Tesla models average 159.5 miles of added range for every hour charged at a supercharger. This extreme energy charging can be hard on your battery as time goes on if continuously used, so be sure to utilize destination chargers whenever possible.

Difficulties with Charging Your Tesla

While Teslas remain at the forefront of electric vehicles in luxury and convenience, they are not without their drawbacks.

Teslas were once a rare sighting but have jumped exponentially in popularity in recent years. This has resulted in more charging stations, but also more Teslas using these stations. 

Full Charging Stations Require Patience

Busier stations may require a wait to charge, longer than a comparable line at a gas station, as most charges will last 30-75 minutes. 

Larger charging stations often have charging ports in pairs that share power between two cars. If you are on a timeline, you’re better off getting to an empty pair and charging before another car arrives or looking for a smaller station with individual stalls. Once another car arrives, you both charge more slowly.

Charging your Tesla will take more time than purchasing gas and will undoubtedly be more of a hassle than jumping in your previous gas-powered vehicle and hitting one of the extremely frequent gas stations along the way. The economic and earth-friendly benefit is often worth the trade-off.

Planning Ahead with Backup Chargers

It’s a good idea to bring adaptors with you in case the Tesla-specific charging stalls are full, or you cannot find a suitable charging station nearby. Amazon has a variety of model-specific adapters for any car, and Teslas all come with one basic adapter that should allow for a variety of charges.

Coordinating Charging Availability with Accommodations

We recommend calling ahead and reserving a charging slot, if possible, at your hotel. If not, you may end up having to park your Tesla at a nearby destination charger overnight and pay to take an Uber/Lyft back to your hotel.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many options for booking hotels based on charging availability. The best and lowest-hassle plan is to utilize a destination charger, found with your navigation tools, overnight while parked at a hotel or other overnight stay.

Fees Charged for Overstaying your Charging Time

In order to keep the supercharger stations moving and enough ports available for other drivers, if you finish charging your Tesla but leave it sitting in the stall, they will charge an “idling fee”. Often this only occurs when the station is over 50% full, and you have left your Tesla for longer than 5 minutes after it’s been fully charged.

After 5 minutes of idling, you will be charged an additional $0.50 per minute. If the station is completely full of drivers, that increases to $1.00 per minute, turning into a chunk of change rather quickly. Your Tesla app will be able to tell you real-time charging percentages to avoid this fee, so be sure to pay attention to your percentage if you are out and about.

Other Options for Charging your Tesla and Planning Your Route

Planning your Tesla road trip is going to center around available charging stations, no matter where you are going. There are tens of thousands of these stations in North America alone, and more being installed all the time. With the increased popularity of electric vehicles, there are also several other non-Tesla options for charging your Tesla en-route.

There are a few apps and websites available that can make finding a variety of charging stations easier for you. These include:

  • Chargepoint
  • PlugShare

Planning Your Tesla Road Trip with Chargepoint

ChargePoint is an independent site that has listings of over 120,000 charging stations throughout the US and Canada. You can see which ones are open and available in real-time, and also track your spending to see your charging at home cost vs. road trip cost. This app also provides guides to finding and using free chargers installed along the way (these are rare but available).

Chargepoint is a multi-use charging station for anything from:

  • Teslas
  • Most other electric vehicles
  • Workplaces
  • Business fleets

These stations are built for all electric vehicles, and they come in several options.

  • All-purpose Level 2 charging stations (CT4000)
    • Available for business and owners to install to increase traffic or provide for their employees
  • Level 2 for families and multifamily (CPF50)
    • Apartment complexes, condominiums
  • Express 250 Charging
    • Near highways and interstates, a quick charging option with several stalls
  • Express Plus Charging
    • A “single serve” charging stall hooked up one or more DC battery blocks

All Tesla models come equipped with an adapter that will work with these ChargePoint stations. You can also order a CHAdeMO adapter to use with a wide variety of charging stations. If renting, your rental company should provide an adapter for your Tesla, make sure to affirm this option.

Utilizing Plugshare to Plan your Route

PlugShare is a site that is compatible with the Tesla trip-planning site. You add your specific vehicle to this app, and it shows you available compatible stations; you can also leave tips and reviews for other drivers. 

You can set PlugShare to alert you when there is a charging stall available near you, Tesla, or another brand. 

PlugShare is a valuable route planner. It includes over 20 charging networks, and several varieties of chargers and adapters that you can filter by, including:

  • Supercharger
  • Tesla
  • J-1772
  • CHAdeMO
  • Wall

You can also filter your PlugShare route by:

  • Minimum power available in kW
  • PlugScore (a scale of 1-10, given by other drivers and users)
  • Types of stations
    • Residential, commercial, payment required, etc.

PlugShare also has a legend on their map that includes information about each station, such as categorizing them as:

  • Under repair
  • Coming soon
  • Public
  • High power
  • Restricted
  • Residential

The vast array of information that PlugShare provides throughout your route planning is invaluable. You can either search for a specific charging location or use their new Trip Planning function that works similarly to other navigation systems. You simply enter a starting location, a destination, choose your preferred filters, and select your route.

Tesla Road Trip with EV Trip Planner

Another option for planning your route is EV Trip Planner. This website comes highly rated by Tesla owners but is not available in the Tesla web browser, so it’s best to access this before you leave or on your phone while traveling. You input route-specific information such as:

  • Tesla Model
  • Tire size
  • Cabin temperature
  • External temperature
  • Wind
  • Initial charge percent

You have the option to choose your route either as most direct or route through only superchargers. This site also predicts how much energy your Tesla will use during your trip. It takes into account variants such as:

  • Average speed on your route (based on posted speed limits)
  • Air density/elevation
  • Heat/AC usage

EV Trip Planner uses all of this information to pinpoint the predicted energy usage during your trip, giving you an estimated cost along with available chargers along the route. This may change with weather and driving conditions, so it’s important to update the information along the way if it changes from the initial input.

Luckily, Tesla models all come equipped with a program to assist you in planning the best route for your road trip.

Using Tesla Autopilot on Your Road Trip

The luxury of Tesla goes beyond just the name, with several effective and technologically advanced accessories available for use during your road trip. The most commonly cited and used feature is the autopilot feature.

This feature is available on all current Tesla models and hopes to be a fully self-driving model in the future with capabilities far beyond what is available today.

Tesla’s autopilot feature drives for you, taking almost all of the hassle out of the road trip. These features are meant to provide both the highest level of safety features and the highest level of efficiency on the market.

Tesla’s Autopilot feature is well-known in the technological and social media base. 

This feature provides:

  • Sensory Coverage
  • Processing Power
  • Autopilot Driving
  • Navigation

Sensory Coverage with Tesla Autopilot

Not only does Tesla Autopilot drive for you, it is also equipped with phenomenal safety features. These include:

  • Collision avoidance
  • Automatic braking
  • Side collision warning
  • Front collision warning
  • High-beam headlights

All of these factory functions are designed to keep the driver and occupants safe. It’s important to note that the autopilot feature should not be engaged without a licensed driver at the wheel. It is not self-driving at this time.

These safety features are designed to preempt any accidents caused by other drivers but should always be navigated by a capable and alert driver who can utilize human functioning and response to avoid accidents.

There are eight surround-coverage cameras on each Tesla, which provide feedback and unit in the front, rear, and side areas on the car to avoid collisions with other cars or objects nearby.

Increased Processing Power with Tesla Autopilot

Highlighting the benefits of technology over human sensory experience, Tesla offers valuable computer-basic input, including:

  • Vision
  • Sonar
  • Radio

All of these processing dimensions offer a heightened view of the surrounding traffic and area. Tesla will adjust steering and speed to make sure the vehicle remains in a safe travel environment.

Letting Autopilot Drive Your Tesla

Autopilot, when activated, will:

  • Steer
  • Brake
  • Accelerate

This will maintain appropriate functioning within your lane. This is not simply an autonomous driver but assists the registered and capable driver with maintaining a safe travel environment. While Tesla hopes to one day manufacture the technology to have a fully self-driving car, this is not available yet.

It’s important that the driver remain alert and capable of driving while the Tesla is in autopilot mode.

Utilizing the Autopilot Navigation System

While Tesla Autopilot is engaged in a route, it will continue to provide a seamless travel experience for drivers and occupants. When Navigation (your road trip route in action) is activated alongside autopilot, the car will detect the most efficient route and will make adjustments to avoid:

  • Being stuck behind slow drivers
  • Taking the wrong exit
  • Unnecessary lane changes
  • Longer-than-recommended routes

Along with the navigation systems, your Tesla will now be able to find you in crowded parking lots. You can basically “summon” your vehicle to your location, and it will self-drive itself to you, making the days of wandering, searching for your vehicle obsolete.

Tesla Models to Take on Road Trips

Tesla has several models to choose for your road trip. From the popular Model 3 to the Model X SUV, you’re sure to find the perfect ride for your trip.

The Tesla Model S Option for Road Trips

The Tesla Model S is an AWD sedan with an estimated range of 387 miles per charge. It seats 5 adults, has a max speed of 163 mph, and costs around $70,000 to buy.

The Tesla Model S will cost around $81 for 1,000 miles of charging, compared to $98 for 1,000 miles of driving using gasoline. This is comparable to a gas-powered sedan, but your environmental impact is much lower. 

The Tesla Model 3 is the Most Popular Tesla on the Road

This model is the most common Tesla worldwide today. For this article, we will utilize specifications of this particular model when planning a road trip.

The Tesla Model 3 starts at around $37,000. It is also an AWD sedan with a top speed of 162 mph and a range of 353 miles.

Compared to gasoline prices, utilizing a supercharger will cost about $76 per 1,000 miles. Gasoline would cost $95 for a similar 1,000 miles driven. You pay per purchase at supercharging stations. 

Choose the Tesla Model X for Road Tripping with an SUV

The Tesla Model X is a spacious AWD SUV with enhanced safety features. This model seats 7 adults and has a range of 371 miles with a starting price of $74,000. The second/third row doors are “falcon wing doors” that open upwards to increase accessibility. 

The top speed of this model is 155 mph.

The Tesla Model X will cost $98 when utilizing a supercharger for 1,000 miles, paid per purchase. The same distance would cost around $115 if using gasoline.

Road Tripping with a Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y is another AWD sedan, this model has a range of 303 miles and a top speed of 155 mph.

Compared to gasoline prices, utilizing a supercharger will cost about $68 per 1,000 miles. Gasoline would cost $85 for a similar 1,000 miles driven. You pay per purchase at supercharging stations. 

No matter which Tesla you choose (or own), rest assured that they all have top-of-the-line safety features.

Tesla has continued to innovate and develop other models, including:

New Option for Tesla Road Trips Coming Soon: The Cybertruck

The Tesla Cybertruck is designed with an impenetrable exoskeleton and armored glass. This truck provides 100 cubic feet of storage alongside a 14,000-pound towing capacity and room for six. With a 250-mile range capacity, this truck is made for hauling.

Tesla Models Available for Road Trips with Cost per Thousand Miles

There are currently several Tesla models available. Each one varies, and planning your route will need to be adjusted accordingly. No matter which Tesla you own, your road trip will be a simple and efficient travel method.

For each road trip in a Tesla, you’ll need to identify three key things:

  • The model you have (or will be renting)
  • The route you choose (tailored to charging stations)
  • Utilizing available accessories to simplify your road trip

If you are looking to rent a Tesla for a road trip, the following specs may be of assistance when choosing which model to rent or reserve.

Benefits of Road Tripping with Tesla

Whether or not you own your own Tesla, the benefits of road-tripping with this company cannot be understated. Owning or renting a Tesla will provide opportunities to both decrease your carbon footprint and enjoy the many amenities that Tesla offers.

Using the above features and advice, we hope you will enjoy an efficient and simple road trip with your Tesla.