25 Tips Before a Cross Country Trip in a Tesla | What Drivers Wish They Knew

Traveling long distances in an electric car such as Tesla can be scary, especially if you have range anxiety: that irrational fear that your battery charge will get low and there will be no place to charge before you run out of power. What’s worse than getting stranded in the middle of nowhere! And think you’ll soon be starring in a scene from Deliverance? Worried that even with planning you might forget that one thing that you wish you did before your long trip?

No worries. Even if this is your first cross-country trip in your EV, we have an authoritative list of tips and we guarantee you’ll find a few that will surprise you. Read on.

We polled drivers for tips before a Tesla road trip | 400 responded!

Tesla drivers are passionate about driving and many have real-life examples that we thought were perfect for our list of must-do things before driving a Tesla cross country. We looked through over 400 responses and compiled the best 25 for you.

1. Switch to percent to monitor the battery level

The best way to monitor the life of your Tesla battery is by switching over from a time reading on its screen, and instead of viewing it as a percent. More than 5 respondents wrote in with their thoughts about this change; they said that percentage updates make an easier reference point when going for long drives cross country or otherwise throughout different circumstances (like traveling through airports).

2. Keep a 20% arrival buffer to the next supercharger station

This is one of the most essential and most popular tips. It is important to consider an adequate percent buffer until the next supercharger. This will help you in avoiding range anxiety. A 20% arrival buffer will be enough if you properly organize your stops beforehand.

3. Supercharge the battery for a few minutes more than what the car says you need

When you are charging your Tesla, you can opt to charge a few minutes more than what is needed. That extra charger will quickly be drawn down on a long, cross-country EV road trip.

4. It’s a good time to stop to eat, sleep, or shop then keep the Tesla plugged in and start driving when it’s maxed out

Use overnight charging, any pit stops at gas stations to charge your electric vehicle. Coordinate non-driving activities so you have access to destination chargers for example, so you can use this time to top up the charge.

5. Download the Plugshare app so you have options outside of the supercharger networks just in case

Tesla Electric Car

This Plugshare app was mentioned by multiple Tesla owners and claims to be a very reliable app for finding charging options aside from the ones on the supercharger networks.

6. There’s a great Facebook group called Tesla Road trippers

The Tesla Road Trippers group of close to 5,000 members was referred to by multiple Tesla owners as the one you should join if you plan on a Tesla cross-country trip.

Tesla Electric Car

7. Plan but also enjoy the ride

One of the best things to do to battle range anxiety is to enjoy the journey. Having a firm plan and getting all bases covered before heading out for a Tesla cross-country trip will help you in enjoying and keep from worrying.

8. Bring a spare tire

This is one of the basic tips that should be taken into the heart of anyone who plans to have long rides. It is best to assume the worst-case scenarios and be prepared at all times.

9. Check your tires and ensure they are at the right pressure.

Speaking of tires, never forget to check the four ones currently installed before you even decide to go. Take note that the recommended tire pressure for most Tesla models is 45 psi.

Tesla Electric Car

10. Keep some Windex and towels in your car to clean the windows

A simple trick to keep your vision clear, your driving safe, and your Tesla looking its very best!

11. If you can find hotels with EV chargers on the way, that can reduce a bit of your charging time

Check for hotels that offer EV chargers on your designated route. This can assist in reducing supercharger time. Again, plan ahead before proceeding with your Tesla cross-country trip. Take the time to research hotels first.

12. Get a tire pump if going over mountains and different climates.

Make sure that you have a tire pump in tow if you plan on driving through areas with different climates or mountain ranges. You’ll never know when a tire pump may seem the handiest, so always have it ready.

13. Do a little pre-planning, put together an itinerary and bring a paper map.

Do some pre-planning around the location of Tesla Being ready for a Tesla cross-country trip will require pre-planning. Having an itinerary is essential because this long drive is no joke. Bringing a paper map would also be a brilliant thing to do because you can never tell if your devices or your cell phone reception are compromised. At least you have a map as backup.

14. There is also a relatively new feature on the nav screen that shows how many SuperCharger stalls are available and if the SC is out of service

Tesla Electric Car

Make sure you check the navigation screen and this new feature, to consider how long a wait you might have at a supercharger and if you should re-route someplace else.

15. Always take possible traffic into consideration when wondering if you should stop and charge now or later

Some people tend to forget about possible traffic. Among all of the tips by Tesla owners, this one was only mentioned once but showcased quite a buzz because this is a must-know tip.

16. Get a good weather app like ‘Windy’

Being informed about headwinds can help you estimate whether you need to add a buffer or not, as headwinds increase power consumption. Considering the different weather conditions on your Tesla cross-country trip will serve vital.

17. Don’t override the safety features and take a break when you need it

Long trips can be grueling and sleep-inducing. Take a break and use that time to pick convenient locations near a Tesla supercharger using your app. Sometimes they are easier to find than you think.

18. Keep a 10mm wrench in the car for quick fixes

On one long trip in a Tesla Model Y, the car would not supercharge. Disconnecting and reconnecting the 12V main battery fixed the issue.

19. Bring a tire plug kit and compressor

Again, you will never know what a Tesla cross-country trip may bring. Bringing enough tools just for every necessary requirement can help you become equipped against potential problems.

20. Account for topography, wind, and speed

A car’s prediction on the range was fairly accurate for in-town mileage but was off by half at higher elevations and speeds of 80mph.

21. If you are camping, check out the Facebook group for Tesla Camping

If your purpose for a Tesla cross country trip requires camping. Try joining the Tesla Camping group so you could get additional advice from experienced Tesla campers.

22. Get your windows tinted first

This tip is a concern for privacy. If you have important stuff inside your vehicle and are concerned with leaving them behind while you park, having tinted windows can help. It’s also an added security measure if you plan to sleep in your Tesla.

23. Try the app RVparky.com

Tesla Electric Car

It provides recommendations for places that are safe to pull off the road to sleep or catch a short nap in your car seats.

24. Refer to Stay-N-Charge.com to find hotels with chargers that may not be in the Tesla app

Having an alternative to the Tesla app allows for searching hotels with chargers for electric cars.  Remember to bring your J-1772 adapter with you as not all hotels will have Tesla chargers and expect to find non-Tesla charging as the norm to accommodate all types of electric vehicles.

25. Trust the Car

A Tesla is equipped with the technology to help you in being safe and convenient. It is designed to provide users with the right amount of information. Of course, there may be some instances of inconsistencies but this should be very minimal.

Travel Tips for Your Tesla

Your Tesla is designed to sustain its batteries over time and won’t overcharge when plugged into an extended period of time. To maintain a cool cabin temperature and maximum range, park into a covered area and turn the AC on while charging. From your tablet, your battery status and temperature are updated automatically in the Tesla app. Check tire pressure (psi) and examine tires for scratches and damage. If inside the auto body temperatures exceed 105 F then the cabin overheats detection system will immediately turn on and reduce this level of heat. It will stay going until you remove it from the Park position, manually turn it off, or if the battery is charged.

Maps and Navigation

Your Tesla detects and automatically adjusts the estimated travel times and departure times. The navigation system can guide you to the destination when traffic changes. To remove Supercharger Stations from your route, select remove charging stops (lightning-bolt sign) from the navigational menu and follow instructions. Touch the map icon located at the top right side of the map to configure its position. Rotate the map in every direction by twisting two hands and holding the fingers and dragging the palms on the map to move. This shows to the user a map that can easily be read with remote control.

Tesla’s Supercharger network is unbelievable and much cheaper than its competitors

Tesla Electric Car

Drivers have found that even on road trips that rely on heavier superchargers you pay less than 1/2 as much fuel than an ICE car. We’d spend about $95 on the charging fees but once we had referred friends and relatives to the Tesla we couldn’t pay any tax on it. We stopped at 14 fast-charging stations at 2700 miles.

Charge overnight

We charged approximately 2,000 kilometers (73% of the total) through Tesla Superchargers and 750 to overnight destinations near which we were staying. We found that level 2 charging infrastructure has become increasingly widespread so charging is possible almost any time you get there. The only place we didn’t charge overnight (Des Moines) caused a lot of hassle when we drove to another nearby supercharger. The battery was frozen and it didn’t feel like time. All of these mean my car was charged twice as fast as normal and this meant that it stopped charging in a little over 40 minutes.

Coordinate all stopping needs with charging

Every charging stop would include a bathroom break and usually a meal or snack outside. Some fast chargers were located near grocery stores so we occasionally stayed in the bathroom and added variety to our food stock. This is an important strategy to keep your trip on schedule especially during the day. The best way to get time to keep on the plan is to avoid stopping for other stretches or when you charge.


Can you do a cross-country trip in a Tesla?

Yes, of course! A lot of Tesla owners have done so. There are a number of factors that come into play when determining if you can go a long distance in a Tesla. You have to consider the battery size and how many miles per hour you drive at certain speeds between charging stations.

How much does a cross-country trip cost?

According to Investopedia, when you add up the cost of lodging, food, and gas, a typical road trip from New York to Los Angeles has decreased slightly in price, from $1,159.20 to $1,151.69 between 2015 and 2020. The slight decrease in gas prices more than canceled out the increases in costs for food and lodging. Of course, this would be different when you take a cross-country trip with an electric vehicle.

Can you go a long distance in a Tesla?

Yes. Teslas are designed to last for long distances. The important thing is to check the range.

How much does it cost to drive across the country in a Tesla?

According to a family who traveled using a Tesla Model 3 for a cross country trip from Oregon to Ohio, they would have spent around $95 by stopping at 14 fast chargers over 2700 miles if not for free charging credit.

The Model X costs about $15.29 to fully charge, and that’s about 4.5 cents per mile. For a Tesla Model 3, it will cost around $7.65 to charge. Depending on the variant, this is between 3 and 4 cents per mile. For a Tesla Model S, expect to pay about 3.7 cents per mile and a full charge will cost around $15.29. For a Tesla Model Y, a full charge costs about $11.47 at 4.7 cents per mile.

Key Takeaways

Without a doubt, you can make a cross country or long trip in a Tesla. Several Tesla owners have done so. The information provided above are tips based on first-hand experiences. These best tips can help you in completing your journey.

Michael Schuck

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