Trip Planning in a Tesla Model S


A dear friend of my husband’s that we’ll call “Bob” sent a text message on Saturday April 1st. We were at the airport en route home from the Model 3 unveiling and he apparently heard the news about the growing number of reservations.

“Should I reserve a Model 3?”
Yes, Bob. Yes you should. If you have $1,000 to spare and think there is some small chance you may want the car, make a refundable deposit. This goes for anyone, by the way.

In the days to follow, Bob and my husband chatted about the car a bit. Bob just hoped for enough range to get to and from work a couple of times without having to charge and had declared that he would probably just take another car on longer trips. Why? He didn’t feel like having to think and plan for charging stops.

That’s when it hit me. A large portion of the 325,000 Model 3 reservation holders have never owned a long-range EV that can be powered with a fast charging network on long trips. To some of them, the idea of having to chart out your trip ahead of time is unappealing. To me, it’s actually fun. So fun, in fact, that after seeing someone ask about whether Pittsburgh, PA to Fort Myers, FL is doable – I charted this trip for them.

Tesla road trip planning

100% of the credit for the above trip, as well as every trip I’ve taken in my Model S, goes to the website This website lets you plug in your start and finish points, various other important pieces of information and route through Tesla superchargers. (At the moment, no other long-range EVs are on the market, nor are other nationwide fast chargers included in the price of your car.) The results take into account elevation information and everything you entered to project the time it will take to get to each charge stop and the amount of rated range you will probably use. This information is easily understood and can be used to jot down a little trip plan like the one above. While I was at it, I used google maps to check the location of each stop. That’s where I got the information included in the suggestion of what to do while charging for any of the above charge stops I haven’t personally been to. The whole plan above took me fewer than 20 minutes and that’s with a little extra formatting to make it easy for the new driver I was making it for to read.

EVTripPlanner routing

Voluntarily charting the above trip out for someone else was a joy. I live in PA and have family in Fort Myers so I wouldn’t mind taking this trip myself, but primarily wanted to showcase how easy the trip could be. On my longest trip, I did Savannah, GA to Philadelphia, PA without an overnight stop. It was long but doable with two drivers. My favorite part of taking trips on the SC network is the forced stopping that encourages stretching your legs, keeping hydrated (not feeling guilty about the restroom breaks since you’re charging anyway) and switching drivers at each stop. Fatigue isn’t a problem when you have the ability to split the driving responsibility. Mostly everyone who has ever road tripped in a Tesla knows it’s great but back to the ease of planning.

Planning ahead, as shown above, is advisable but Tesla’s built-in navigation also trip plans on the go. In March of 2015, it was announced that a software update would effectively end range anxiety. This enhanced trip planning and range assurance considers real-time information and gives you guidance on getting to where you need to be. It will warn you if you’re in danger of running out, and will advise you to charge to avoid it. Of course, if you just get into the car and head in a direction that is not covered by Superchargers, your trip will end up a lot less convenient. That is why I like to go to from time to time and find various potential trips I can make easily from my home in Philadelphia. I record them on a spreadsheet file, one tab per trip idea, and keep them in mind next time I’m ready for a vacation. It’s also a great idea to revisit it regularly, since new Supercharger locations pop up all the time.

This thread over on the Tesla forum gives excellent tips and reviews of various Supercharging locations and is a valuable resource that helped me to avoid some real confusion when I had to take a ticket to get into the paid parking garage at the Savannah airport, for example.

In the next few years, many more Tesla drivers will learn the joys of EV road tripping and understand that planning ahead is no sweat at all.

Where would you like to road trip in your future Model 3? Leave me a comment!

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