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Unexpected joys born from challenges on our Tesla road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco

Unexpected joys born from challenges on our Tesla road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco

We were very confident that we had it dialed in. We had done our research and mapped out all of the Tesla "Superchargers" between Long Beach and San Francisco. With the 240-mile range we have on our Tesla Model S, we knew we could make it safely from one Supercharger to the next without running too low on our charge.

We had factored in the possible risks-- high temperatures inland which would cause us to lose more charge than usual due to use of the air conditioning; areas where driving up hill can drain the battery more quickly; long stretches of road where we may need to stop and "top off" our battery at non-Tesla Superchargers just to make sure we can make it to the next stop safely; activation of the regenerative breaking so that every time you slow down you actually charge your battery. But even with all that planning, it was not a perfect science.

Tesla superchargers

What we didn't factor in was inconsistent charging times at each Supercharger. We thought it was going to be 30-minutes-a-charge at each Supercharger, without question. It wasn't. Sometimes the chargers would charge at a very fast rate; other times, it was slower.

The range was anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half for a full charge. I have to be honest: at first, this was a devastating discovery. Tacking on an extra three-plus unplanned hours to a road trip with a 6-year-old and a 7-year-old? Torture.

But after the initial shock, we made a choice: instead of being bummed out about the extra time it added to our road trip, we chose to look at it a different way. We soon realized that the extra waiting time was actually a welcomed break from driving. And we turned it into an opportunity for fun and family bonding time.

Because we were traveling with our two young daughters, we decided to make games out of our charging stops: doing scavenger hunts in the aisles of the 99-Cent Store in Atascadero; exploring the outlets in Gilroy; enjoying the Computer History Museum in Mountain View; and more.

All of these places either had Supercharger stations in their parking lots or within a few-minute walk. We made lemonade out of lemons, so to speak, and actually had more quality time as a family than we ever could have imagined on what we dreaded would be a long, tedious driving day.

Charging our Tesla on our way to and from San Francisco truly made our road trip a fun family adventure in a way it never would have been had we been driving a standard, gas-fueled car, simply stopping at gas stations every couple of hours for five minutes at a time. 

So, in closing, although things didn't go exactly as planned for our Tesla road trip, the drive was actually better BECAUSE of our at-times-longer-than-planned charging stops. Not to mention the incredibly smooth, luxurious, and effortless quality of the drive in our amazing Model S. Driving long distances is a joy in a car like that, a car that is nimble on sharp turns, accelerates up hills with remarkable ease, and allows passengers the fun of being able to request any song simply by saying it out loud.

It was one of the most enjoyable road trips we've ever taken, even with young kids, and the fact that we didn't spend a dime on gas was just the icing on the cake. The zero emissions aspect of driving a Tesla is yet another perk! There's no question we'd take our Tesla on another extended road trip. Yes, it takes some planning, ingenuity, and a little patience, but it's worth it on so many levels. 


Jul 11, 2016 • Posted by Kasee Johnson

I’m sold. I’ve been on the fence about whether a fuel-free vehicle could actually work for my family. And in most instances, it won’t. But by next summer, my daughter will be driving (the second of my kids to get behind the wheel) and our road trips may have fewer passengers. As a family of 6, we normally take my lifted Excursion wherever we go. But our carbon footprint is just so huge! And with the price of diesel?? Road trips have come to a halt. My oldest son, a new graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ with a degree in Mechanical Engineering With An Emphasis On Propulsion and a minor in Alternative Energy, has been pushing the idea of a Tesla. I like it! I’m in!

Jul 11, 2016 • Posted by Dana Keith

I too am a car enthusiast and this trip looked like fun no matter what! Cheers to future Tesla Road trips. I have a 2016 Civic that would love to join lol.

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