Thinking about taking a long Tesla road trip? Read on for this owners tips and takeaways from driving around the lower 48 states.
When I put my deposit down for my Tesla Model Y in 2019 I had the intention of using it daily for my commute…then the pandemic happened. My nine to five shifted online and all of a sudden I was in a situation where this amazing new car was just sitting in my garage. Turns out, this was a common theme for many new owners.
I recently met an owner who took this situation a step further. He was stuck on a ship day-dreaming about his new ride and the places he would go. This resulted in a Tesla road trip that took him 10,500 miles around the United States, literally.
Outlining The USA in an EV
JP Jones, now retired from the Navy, was forced to spend the first several weeks of the pandemic on a ship. His brand new Tesla Model 3 sat waiting at home. On the positive, JP used that time to plan an epic EV road trip, one that took him across Canada, all the way south to Key West, and back along the west coast. The route literally looks like he took a marker and outlined the lower 48 States.
In total, JP drove 17,000 kilometres (10,500 miles) in 44 days. Even more interesting is that his previous Tesla road trip experience was just 450 kilometres (280 miles).
Impressed by his adventure, I reached out to JP. I asked if he could share the details of his trip along with lessons learned. Here’s his take.
How Long Have You Owned Your EV?
I’ve owned my Tesla Model 3 LR since March of 2020. I bought it just before everything was locked down here in British Columbia, Canada. I was in the Navy (recently retired after 35 years) and was ordered to stay on a ship. The Navy’s response to the pandemic was to sail every ship to try to protect the crew from infection. It worked very well, but the downside was I was within eyesight of my home and new car. I wasn’t able to leave the ship for seven weeks. As such, I spent a lot of time dreaming of a long road trip!
Can You Explain a Little Bit About the Route?
My original plan was to drive across Canada and drop my son off in Nova Scotia. My son ended up changing his plans so I shifted. Rethinking the trip, I wondered if I could drive to the Florida keys. I have family and friends in Calgary, Manitoba, Ontario, Virginia Beach and Venice Florida. It made sense that I drive down the coast. At that point, I also decided to drive through New Orleans and Texas (I had never been before). I also have an Uncle in Pheonix and Friends in Pismo Beach California. At that point it kind of made sense to do a loop through the US.
How Did You Prepare for This Trip?
Planning this trip was a way of passing my time in the years leading up to my retirement. I was stuck in a boring desk job. I found it passed the time to plan routes for my trip using ABRP and RoadTrippers.
You Covered a Lot of Ground in Both Canada and the USA. Did You Notice a Difference in the Charging Infrastructure?
The Tesla SuperCharging infrastructure is pretty good on the major routes in Canada, especially along the trans-Canada. That said, there are definitely more Superchargers in the US. This is handy for planning a route because you can change or add chargers to your route as you go.
I tried to use DC chargers on the Ivy network in Ontario and it was eye-opening. I found them difficult and frustrating to use another charging network! Tesla definitely has a huge advantage when it comes to chargers.
An interesting difference between Canada and the US is the rest stops. There are plenty of safe convenient places to stop for a break in the US. Not so much in Canada. It would be nice if superchargers could be at the rest stops!!
How Did You Select Accommodations? Was There a Challenge Finding Hotels With Chargers?
I stayed almost exclusively at Marriott hotels. I found during the trip that I was able to filter on the Marriott app for hotels that have chargers. The downside is that they don’t specify if they are free destination chargers or ChargePoint chargers that are sometimes more expensive than superchargers. Also, they sometimes require you to park with the valet in order to charge your car which can be very expensive.
What Was Your Highlight From Your Time Travelling Across Canada?
Some of the highlights from the trip would be driving through the Canadian Rockies. The mountains are amazing and there are a lot of beautiful places to stop along the way. I would definitely recommend a road trip from Vancouver through Whistler, Banff and Jasper and end up in Calgary.
How About Highlights From Your Time Travelling Across the USA?
I have a lot of highlights from my drive in the US. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great on the way down and I didn’t get to enjoy some of the sights until I was in North Carolina when I saw the monument for Orville and Wilbur Wright in Kitty Hawk. I was able to spend a night in Savanna Georgia which was beautiful, historic and well worth a visit. On a funny note, I wasn’t able to purchase a beer in downtown Savanna because I didn’t have my passport with me. As a 55-year-old man, it was amusing to be refused service for the first time ever!
A few more memorable places in the USA for me included;
- The Kennedy Space Center – I was able to charge my Tesla for free while walking around. I believe they only have four Tesla destination chargers for a huge parking lot so arrive early!
- The Florida Keys – A little more touristy and busy than I imagined, but I was able to see some incredible sunrises and sunsets there.
- Tallahassee Florida – As a Canadian, I was finding the heat and humidity challenging, but it was definitely nice walking around the city. It has a beautiful downtown.
- Austin Texas – I drove to the Gigafactory in Austin and was blown away by how huge the building was!
- Texas – Driving through Texas was interesting. I found that with a speed limit of 80 mph I was driving at around 85 mph (137 kph ) and that definitely affects range. Fortunately, there are enough chargers in Texas to ease the range anxiety.
- Crater Lake Park – I picked up my wife in Pheonix and we had a great time in Scottsdale, and Palm Springs (especially Joshua tree park). On the way home, we visited Crater Lake Park which was a highlight of the trip.
Any Lessons Learned After 17,000 km?
I think it is really important to be able to say yes to things, especially on a road trip. Keep an open mind to changing routes, going to places you have never been and stopping to enjoy the sights along the way. A good example is Crater Lake park in Oregon. We just decided on a whim to go a little out of the way and check out the park and it was mind-blowing how beautiful it was. I will have memories of that place for the rest of my life now.
Where to Next?
I would like to drive from Vancouver Island to Yellowknife in the North West Territories. I have an uncle from Yellowknife who is a documentary filmmaker and I think it would be cool to do a short documentary that details the pros and cons of a long trip to the North with limited charging options.
I’m also thinking about doing a trip from Vancouver Island through northern British Columbia and then going through Terrace and Prince Rupert before taking a ferry to Haida Gwaii and then back to the Island.