How to Go Cross Country - Your Advice, Summarized

How to Go Cross Country - Your Advice, Summarized

Pretty soon we'll get into the detailed planning stage for our Utah Parks trip.
But, as you all know, owning a Model S can give you wild ideas!
Everyday we stray off topic and let our minds rove all over the U.S.

A friend making a film on the Lewis and Clark expedition invited us to his cabin in Helena, Montana next summer. So we got the idea to go north and west (from Denver) and visit him. That's on top of our idea of going to Steve's birthplace in Upper Michigan. Note: this idea has morphed into the Great Lakes in a new Model 3 trip!

My parents and sister live in Northern Virginia, and so we started talking about shipping the T to Virginia and then spending months roving all around the East Coast, which we have only partially seen.

But, some of you, like @SamO, have actually driven the whole cross country route (and back).

My main concern about doing that would be driver fatigue (and all the foreign objects in the middle of high speed highway lanes).

Is it necessary or better to have multiple drivers to maintain alertness? If so, how many hours of driving per each, or per day total do you think is prudent? Break up the trip and not drive too many miles per day? Don't drive at night? Only drive at night?

What were the techniques that you used or learned in "going the distance"?

I see those red dots on the Supercharger map and they are like beacons. Egging me on.
I need help!

OK, here's the wisdom of long-distance drivers on our forum, condensed:

1) drive in the daytime (SamO)
2) 8 hours is ideal (SamO)
3) slow on climbs, coast/fast on downhills (SamO)
4) smell the roses along the way (Goehring9, SamO)
5) stop every 2-3 hours for 45 minutes (John Glenney)
6) remember: outside Cali, there's weather (John Glenney)
7) rest at night unless you have more than 2 drivers (SeattleSid)
8) avoid sugar/coffee (Pungoteague_Dave)
9) avoid forest rats at night/other animals (P_D)
10) stay alert by taking 20 minute naps (P_D)
11) nail in tire - inside patch, not plug (TeslaOwnerBlog)
12) 3.5" REI self-inflatable mattress for rest (TeslaOwnerBlog)
13) drink coffee!/eat tortilla chips (Bighorn)
14) drive at night/early a.m. around major cities (Bighorn)
15) use cruise control (centralvalley)
16) time SC so that you are not on road when bars close (Captain_Zap)
17) avoid being on road for sunrise going East and sunset going West (KevinR)
18) when off Supercharger grid, limit to 180-240 miles (CraigW)
19) find a hotel chain and use their reservation system (CraigW)
20) get $50 Tesla tire repair kit for piece of mind (CraigW)
21) bring tire plug kit (Tesla slime doesn't work on large punctures) (Bighorn)
22) avoid colliding with road debris by avoiding traveling in caravans, tailgating (TeslaOwnerBlog)
23) give bottle of wine to new charging friends (darrelw)
24) use range mode
25) preheat car, charge until you're ready to leave with a warm battery to enable regen (JenAlJill13)
26) call ahead and ask hotel to block charging unit for you so you don't get ICE'd (rodrussel).
27) make sure you can see daylight between dual tires on trucks if following (Captain_Zap)
28) avoid following heavily laden trucks (Captain_Zap)
29) cold weather, Supercharge with warm battery before turning in as speed will be higher (sperrysburg)
30) best to bring two drivers (Anthony J Parisio)
31) Drive defensively, leave plenty of room for defensive maneuvers, both on the road and at traffic lights. Always have an escape route (Newampster)
32) Walk the parking lot at SC's (Newampster)
33) Enjoy the people and the sites. They will build the memories from the trip (Newampster)
34) use WAZE (Search and Rescue)
35 trust Tesla Nav system's charging times for each Supercharger (Search and Rescue)
36 Drive so that you arrive at Supercharger with 2-8% state of charge (Search and Rescue)
37 Watch for motorcycles splitting lanes (CA)(AEdennis)
38 Note emergency numbers changing at state borders - NV is NHP and CA is 911 (AEdennis)
39 At overnight stays at hotels with Superchargers, charge in am just before leaving (AEdennis)
40 Bring coins for toll plazas that still take them (Garden State Parkway, NJ) (AEdennis)
41 Consider bringing spare tire on long trip (robert, AEdennis)
42 Chew gum when you feel fatigue coming on, better than caffeine (tim)
43 Research EZPass before travel to intended states (tes s, barrykmd}
44 Account for local driving range lost when planning onward route (bnc)
45 Make sure you have cell phone, charged, for emergencies (akikiki)
46 buy adapter plug kits for every possible situation (sklancha)

adding what we learned on West Coast/Canada trip:
- put heavy wine/water bottles up frunk to balance load (sbeggs)
- slightly deflate tire pressure to reduce noise, increase comfort (sbeggs) - note: decreased life of Primacies to 25,000 miles
- bring along parcel shelf-table and chairs and minor cooking gear (sbeggs)
- circumnavigate major cities on Sunday morning (sbeggs)
- plan!
- note to self - acquire one orange cone.

Excellent and helpful suggestions from you all, thank you!

sbeggs | 27 aprile 2015

Thanks, everyone, for all the tips!

teslamonterey | 27 aprile 2015

There is a nice bed and breakfast between Kansas City and St. Louis. Try the cooking class offered before you take off and head to St. Louis.

Stan_Stein | 27 aprile 2015

Thank you!! You allhave been of great help.

CraigW | 27 aprile 2015

Regarding the gap between the St Louis and Kansas City SCs.

- You could plan an overnight where you can link into a 1772 charger.
- You could drive slower in an 85 during this stage (I have a 60, so that is not an option.
- Accept the fact that that day you are going to go no farther than 200-250 miles.

I, personally, wouldn't refrain from taking this route solely because it was missing one supercharger. I have taken the northern route with no problem, so that isn't my issue. | 27 aprile 2015

When using nav system to visit an SC for the first time, expand the map view to the maximum setting to find the SC stations precisely. Saves a lot of hunt and peck in big parking ares et al.

sbeggs | 10 maggio 2015

Updated original post with tips from cross country record holders Search and Rescue (minimizing total charging time while driving speed limit). !

Ruby110 | 10 maggio 2015

I met two of the Search and Rescue team at a SC in Utah while driving back from a coast to coast trip. Very nice people. However, I remember thinking that what they did is the opposite of what my wife and do. We minimize stress not charging time.

When I first read their suggestion to trust the Nav charging times I thought oh no! Then I read their suggestion to arrive with 2-8% SOC. Those suggestions are consistent but that's not for us. We prefer a larger margin.

As I understand the SOC projection, it doesn't factor weather into the initial projection. It does incorporate weather and other factors as you drive thus I saw the projected arrival SOC drop by 1/3 as I drove into a headwind.

So my recommendation is to know how strong the winds are likely to be and from which direction. Then allow a cushion. As our driving experience increased, our cushion decreased but we always had one. Note for marital bliss: we always conferred on how much cushion was sufficient.

One more suggestion. Even though they are expensive and problematic, I suggest getting the CHAdeMO adapter. It gave us (mainly me) peace of mind when venturing off the SC highway.

cquail | 10 maggio 2015

May 8th I charged our S85D at Joe Machens Nissan in Columbia MO. Very accommodating to this Tesla owner. I charged for 3.5 hours @ 18 miles per hour. Arrived with a rated range of 77 miles. Left with a rated range of 150 miles. Going west it was 115 miles to the Independence MO supercharger. Arrived there with 35 miles left.

Bighorn | 10 maggio 2015

As they say, "the bigger the cushion, the better the pushin'":) I'll generally add a 30%SOC cushion just so I won't be surprised by the prevailing winds, which I agree is a great thing to be cognizant of, and also so I can push it if I run into some interesting travel companions.

gwpigg | 10 maggio 2015

I traveled from Independence to St Charles on 5-9 Range charged to a full 265 at Independence and drove 64MPH the first 1/2 of the trip- then 70MPH the rest of the way- made it with 46 miles left. So very doable w/o stopping in Columbia at least - west to east. But it will be nice when there is a supercharger in Columbia.

My best advice is limit the trip to about 600 miles/ day max I drove 730 miles one day and it was too much.

Stan_Stein | 10 maggio 2015

cquall, Did you fully charge in St Charles Mo before heading to Columbia Mo? I am wondering if I can make it to Independence Mo from St Charles Supercharger. It is about 212 miles.

Bighorn | 10 maggio 2015

I don't see it on the list, but under most circumstances on the highway, you'll average 50MPH overall when taking charging into account. That makes planning pretty simple. And I agree that the Search and Rescue "tips" would make for very stressful driving. I used to drive like that, with small remaining buffers, but it's not worth the stress. I don't trust the computer for charging times either because it provides an 8-10% buffer and the car starts flashing warnings to slow down if you drop below an 8% buffer, so you may see a warning before you've even come up to cruising speed from your on-ramp acceleration. There are areas in Wyoming where you have to go 55 MPH in order to match the car's predicted economy and the speed limit is 80--your buffer evaporates quickly in this scenario. I've been working with engineering to straighten some of this out for future iterations.

gwpigg | 10 maggio 2015

Bighorn, Great advice. 50MPH overall is a good average for Superchargers. - I had to make one stop at an RV park for about an hour ( Perry OK Supercharger was not working) and that knocked my average down to 45MPH for a 720 mile day-

I think the route planning tool assumes 300WH/Mile just like the range prediction meter- so if you use more than 300 WH/Mile you will see your cushion disappear. Otherwise the route planning tool worked fine for me- given it's current state of release.

Grinnin'.VA | 10 maggio 2015

@ CraigW | April 27, 2015

Regarding the gap between the St Louis and Kansas City SCs.

- You could plan an overnight where you can link into a 1772 charger.

Yes, there is a hotel in Columbia, MO that has a single 1772.

I have taken the northern route with no problem, so that isn't my issue.

The "northern route" adds roughly 1000 miles to the I-70 route between Indianapolis and Topeka, KS. I doubt that this would appeal to many MS owners.

@cquail | May 10, 2015

May 8th I charged our S85D at Joe Machens Nissan in Columbia MO. Very accommodating to this Tesla owner. I charged for 3.5 hours @ 18 miles per hour.

Good to hear. As I recall from my internet research, that Nissan dealership is within walking distance of at least one place to eat. But IMO, 3.5 hours for a lunch/charging stop is a bit much when I'm trying to get 500-600 miles down the road before I check into a hotel to rest/sleep. If I drive my 85D out west along I-70 before the SC opens in Columbia, MO, I'll plan to spend a night at the hotel in Columbia that has a J1772.

gwpigg | May 10, 2015 new

I traveled from Independence to St Charles ... very doable w/o stopping in Columbia at least - west to east. But it will be nice when there is a supercharger in Columbia.

I believe the wind ususally blows from west to east most of the time in that area. So travelling east-to-west would probably put you in a headwind situation, which would reduce your range.

My best advice is limit the trip to about 600 miles/ day ...

Sounds wise to me. At an average of 50 mph, that would take 12 hours. If you need to stop for 3+ hours for a trickle charge, that would make for a tiring day on the road for me.

sbeggs | 21 giugno 2015

Reviving thread for @DallasTG.

Red Sage ca us | 27 giugno 2015


sbeggs | 27 giugno 2015

Merci deux fois, mon cher Sage Rouge!

sbeggs | 25 luglio 2015

For AEDennis!

AEdennis | 25 luglio 2015

Thanks @sbefgs.

Here's a link to my list:

Rule 1 - Have fun, Drive Safe

Some of the ones that I pulled out of our post:

Also, when traveling in California, watch out for motorcycles... They're allowed to split lanes in California, so don't be surprised when one does it beside you.

Pay attention to what the Emergency numbers are for cellphones at each border crossing, for example Nevada is *NHP and California is 911

If staying overnight at hotels with SCs, I charge in the morning before getting ready to drive out. And use the EV Card from PluginAmerica. ( ) or the Take Charge and Go ( to let any one swinging by to contact you if they need you to move.

Carry thank you cards for when you "crash" at a friend or family's home during your trip.

And coins for the few tolls that still take them (Garden State Parkway in New Jersey)


robert | 26 luglio 2015

"Should I take a spare tire on a long distance trip?"

Absolutely. See my post TRIP TO NORDKAPPfrom a moment ago.


AEdennis | 26 luglio 2015


With a S85, and space for a full size spare, we carry one in the frunk. We've had tire failure in metropolitan Los Angeles and the Tesla Service tow truck be "out" of loaner tires, so had to be towed to service center and an Uber drive home,

So, when we went cross-country, just purchased a wheel and tire.


sbeggs | 27 gennaio 2016

Bumped for @markvallaster's trip

William9 | 27 gennaio 2016

AP! I'm upgrading my "Classic" in the next coupe of months for that very reason.

sbeggs | 28 gennaio 2016


PaulOutBox | 24 aprile 2016


tim | 27 aprile 2016

I've dozens of trips in the 12 - 24 hrs of driving at a time, and my #1 tip is to chew gum whenever you feel the slightest bit of fatigue coming on. I don't know why it works, but is far more effective for me than things like caffeine.

vp09 | 30 aprile 2016

Sbeggs, thank you for these informative essays.

With the Model 90D, and a year and a half since your original post, and I hope more superchargers now than then, are there substantial updates to your advice?

Many thanks.

sbeggs | 30 aprile 2016

You read my mind! I was just thinking about going back over some recent long distance driving threads to pick up additional gems. Stay tuned!

jman | 12 maggio 2016

AEDennis or anybody else, on your trip through South Dakota how many sites did you see besides Mt. Rushmore?
Would we pretty much drive straight through Chicago to Yellowstone without seeing much on that stretch?? We are starting out in Mass next summer.
Any problems with SC being busy or problems with them in general??
With the explosion of more SC I don't think this trip NEXT summer would be any problem.

Bighorn | 12 maggio 2016

I've never seen a full supercharger between Yellowstone and the east coast. Most will be very lonely. South Dakota is mostly desolate outside of the Black Hills. There is the Corn Palace in Mitchell, which is a love it or hate it type of attraction. Around the Black Hills, you also have the Crazy Horse memorial and several kid-centric things like the Reptile Gardens (Rapid City) as well as several good caving opportunities. Of course, this is somewhat centered around Custer, the mecca of Tesla outside of Fremont, where there are parks with good opportunities for wildlife sightings and some fairly unique geography.

finman100 | 12 maggio 2016

Hot Springs, SD has the Mammoth dig. plus an actual hot springs resort, thus the name! it's south of Custer. Dinosaur Hill in Rapid City is a nice viewpoint right in the middle of town. The Black Hills lakes are beautiful, but a tad chilly until July-ish. Hwy 44 thru the Hills is the 'tourist' road. Really nice car cruise. Let's see...pan for gold, the Cosmos 'mystery' area, Bear Country animal park, the 1880 train, Pirate's Cove putt-putt (Rapid City proper), hiking 7200 foot Harney Peak, riding the Keystone Alpine Slide...sorry, I could go on. I only grew up around there and did all that and more! Enjoy!

SamO | 12 maggio 2016

Great thread. Haven't stopped by in a while.

@Bighorn is totally correct. Outside of 5 Superchargers in California and a couple on the East, I've rarely seen another car charging, let alone run into a "busy" supercharger. Unless you count ICE offenders.

sbeggs | 12 maggio 2016


vp09 | 13 maggio 2016

Our S90D will be filling up those supercharging stations this summer or next.

Look for a silver hardtop with 2 happy drivers.

sklancha | 13 maggio 2016

@Vp09. LOL. That's like describing your toddler at a daycare as the one with brown hair and wearing diapers!

sbeggs | 23 maggio 2016

Definitely drive around major cities (like San Francisco) on Sunday mornings!

Bighorn | 23 maggio 2016

Had to activate Verizon's Travelpass in order to use phone in Canada. Two bucks a day.

jman | 23 maggio 2016

has anyone seen a thread on using the Autopilot for longer road trips. It seems that it would make long distance travel that much safer and more enjoyable. Now that we have had it since Oct I bet some out in the west coast or mid west have had opportunities to use it. We in the northeast have only had a couple months since winter to use it for longer trips in the nicer weather.
If there is anybody out there that HAD a standard MS and did long trips but upgraded to an autopilot version and used it for long trips I would LOVE to hear about there experiences on the open road. Especially on roads that are unfamiliar !!

sklancha | 25 giugno 2016

Thank you to whomever it was that slipped this link into a more recent post. It is good to have a refresher sometimes. I looks like this post originated 6 months after I got MY Tesla, while we were doing our fourth long distance trip. Back in the day I spent very little time on the forum and (almost) all my free time testing the reported boundaries of electric travel. So, with 2 years and 70k of education under my belt, I have a few nuggets to offer, and a few questions as well.

Don't wait until you are on a road trip to familiarize yourself with charging away from your home. Use a supercharger, a j1772, a campground. It isnt hard, but it is different and can eat into your trip if you are completely clueless.

Don't be afraid to ask questions of your charging Tesla brethren. Most are more than willing to share their knowledge.

A good time to figure out what influences you wh/m consumption is BEFORE it is necessary. Take a look at how much of your battery ypu use on your way to work. Is it the same every day? Can you change the percentage at will? Can you keep it from changing when bad weather appears? Drafting, speed, temp control are all under your control, but we all have different comfort levels.

The still unknown:

Theoretically, I've known/heard that our peers will be there in a pinch- the.premise behind Plugshare. I've only reached out, when sorta desperate, and have been unsuccessful everytime. This time around (upcoming 5 week around the country roadtrip) I am making a point to connect with other Tesla owners. Partially, to add a little adventure opportunity, but also to network. Just like all the previous recommendations- it is best to learn in a fun and nonthreatenning air, rather than when we are desperate.

Foreign Terrain/weather. Flatland East Coasters in temperate weather zones and Tesla drivers from the rural peaks of the Rockies are exposed to very different local driving experiences. Not sure if the charging calculator takes altitude into consideration, but I wouldn't mind hearing some Rules-of-thumb.

Navigation (as of Nov 2015) is willing to direct you down an off-roading" dirt path. Since we camp/visit a lot of National Parks, I am happy it is willing to recognize dirt roads.... 4-wheeler dirt paths in the middle of th Mojave in the middle of the night can be nerve wrecking. Is there a need for a redundant nav system (use phone never or paper maps)? Is there certain verbiage that will prevent the car from guiding you into trouble.

sklancha | 25 giugno 2016

Oh, another nugget:

Buy adapter plugs for every conceivable situation you can imagine. Once you are on the road, it is impossible to get them. Make sure you have at least one that would work at an RV Park. RV Parks are all over the place an can give 30a or 50a Kool aide in a pinch... but only if you have the adapter

vp09 | 27 giugno 2016

Great advice sklancha. We're driving L.A. to Dallas area in a couple weeks, and are routing only through the Supercharger network. Maybe on another trip we'll venture off that route ...

sbeggs | 21 luglio 2016

Bump to update latest gems! | 21 luglio 2016

Just drove 2400 mile round trip to Chicago in a Model X: Two 600 mile days each way. Takes about 1 hour longer per day in an X than an S due to added charging time to compensate for added energy use. I drove. My bride supervised. Two 13-14 hour days each way. Motel stop each way. Atlanta traffic was the worst part.

Navigate Supercharger to Supercharger. Read Supercharger blogs/threads ahead of time to help find them and nearby amenities. Short nap while charging is a good idea, if you get sleepy. Range charge before leaving home.

faikob | 19 agosto 2016

Superchargers do occasionally get full outside of Cali. In Ritzville, WA the supercharger was full and another S was waiting when we left the Taco Del Mar. I need to remember to leave a note with my number so someone can call me. I was done and could have unplugged for him. I felt guilty. That's the first time I've ever been to a full Supercharger.

sbeggs | 21 febbraio 2017

Bumped for new cross country questions.

sbeggs | 1 giugno 2017

Latest trip, by @NKYTA.
Anything you would advise to other country crossers?

NKYTA | 1 giugno 2017

Make use of Destination Charging when you can. Set the amps to finish when you are going to hit the road.

Also had a conversation at Custer with our resident expert (Bighorn), about how you might actually use more Range going slower (30mph) in slushy conditions (vs going faster, say 50mph). I haven't found a good chart/resource that shows this definitively yet, however.

When going against prevailing winds in all but summer conditions, from Cheyenne to Lusk WY, get at least 98% (P85)!!

NKYTA | 1 giugno 2017

Also, double check status of SC and number of open stalls a few time during a leg if you are shaving it close.

bill | 2 giugno 2017

I have driven from Northeastern Mass to Whistler BC and back in a model S 90. Two actually I traded while I was on the west coast i Portland.

Us the Tesla Tech Support number if you have any car related issues or charging. Get a Charge-point card. They can be very helpful if you need a unplanned charge.

Be very careful about not missing a charging stop. While driving through Utah I received a phone call which distracted me and I went past the Supercharger and with only 10 miles of charge half way between two superchargers I noticed. Using Chargepoint I was able to locate a station within a few miles and after a slow charge using a level 2 charger I had enough to make the next supercharger.

Carry a 20 amp extension cord in case you have to rely on a 110 outlet somewhere. You only get about 3 miles per hour so be prepared to wait!!!!

I found a level 2 and a Chadmo charger at a Toyota dealer and they were more then happy to help me out. Even offered me shelter in their lounge equipped with free snacks.

If the Supercharger is less then 1/2 full (98 % are) and you don't mind sleeping in the car it is a great way to do a full charge at the end of the day.

bill | 2 giugno 2017

My number one suggestion for an enhancement from Tesla is a very obnoxious warning if you drive past a Supercharger that you are navigating to. If speakers are off use them anyway!!!! Maybe even slow the car to a stop if the driver does not acknowledge the warning,

What could be worse then running out of batter in the middle of no where!!!!