My First Road Trip in a Tesla

Even though 99% of my driving involves short trips around St. Louis, one of my concerns with getting a Tesla Model 3 was the challenge of the occasional long road trip. I try to visit my parents in Virginia once or twice a year (13-hour road trip), and Megan’s family lives in Kansas City (4 hours) and Chicago (5 hours). Hence why I got the long-range Model 3, which can travel up to 350 miles in a single charge in ideal conditions.

“Ideal conditions” is the key term. As I entered the destination of Kansas City into the car late last week for a weekend visit, my Tesla informed me that it could just barely make it to KC if I didn’t drive over 75 mph based on the weight of the luggage.

However, I decided to use a supercharger for the first time midway through the trip to ensure our timely arrival. A Tesla supercharging station is essentially a gas station for electric vehicles. You back into a parking spot, plug the charger into your car, and hang out for a few minutes. That’s not enough to get a full charge, but you probably don’t need a full charge to get to your final destination or the next supercharger. It’s incredibly cost effective and easy to use, and it charges much, much faster than plugging in at home.

Here’s me enjoying my first supercharger experience:

While my worries weren’t warranted, it definitely feels odd to drive away from a supercharger knowing that there’s no other way to “fill up” afterwards. There are a LOT more gas stations than superchargers, though I’m hoping that changes as electric vehicles become more popular. It would be nice to have superchargers at gas stations so the car can charge while we’re taking a bathroom break and getting some road snacks (our supercharger was in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn).

There was also the issue of charging at the final destination. Fortunately it was a home, but there weren’t any outlets that were easy to access. We tried an extension cord, but that limited the charge to around 1 mile per hour (opposed to 5 miles per hour). Eventually we cobbled together a solution.

Charging aside, the aspect of a road trip with a Tesla I was most looking forward to was autopilot. Driving for long periods of time is exhausting and increasingly dangerous the longer you stay behind the wheel. But in a Tesla, you can simply activate the autopilot, and all of a sudden you are simply the backup to a computer that sees in all directions, doesn’t get tired, and doesn’t get distracted. It will stay in the lane at a speed of your choice and at a customizable distance behind the car in front of you until you tell it otherwise (e.g., to change lanes). As a result, I arrived at Kansas City (and then back in St. Louis yesterday) far more refreshed than I otherwise would have been.

The benefits of the autopilot far outweigh the small inconvenience of charging, in my opinion. It and the other benefits of a Tesla specifically also far outweigh gas/electric hybrid vehicles. Or perhaps that’s just confirmation bias. 🙂 Either way, I’m happy with my first Tesla road trip!

8 thoughts on “My First Road Trip in a Tesla”

  1. Download PlugShare app – there is a surprising amount of places to charge. They won’t be as fast as a supercharger, but it’ll ease some of your anxiety.

    I’ve charged (for free) at several state park parking lots and about half of the hotels we stayed at since last summer.

  2. Glad to hear it was good experience! We will getting a Tesla (Model Y, as we need something a little bigger for a family of 5) in the next year or so. Just curious, did you pay the extra $$$ for the self-driving feature? If so, do you use it/like it?

    • That’s exciting! I paid extra for the long-range model, but I didn’t pay for full self-driving. Tesla will soon release a monthly subscription option for it, so I might try it, but I’m very happy with the built-in autopilot mode.

  3. Thanks for the Tesla update Jamey!

    As it happens, I wound up ordering a Model 3 long range as well. My wife and I debated between that and the Y, but decided the Model 3 was more fun to drive, and it’s rare we’ll need the extra storage space.

    Eagerly awaiting delivery in a couple of months!

    • That’s great, Kyle! I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it. I agree that it’s quite fun to drive. 🙂


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