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A Tesla Owner Took His Model S Camping on a 19-Day Road Trip

by Staff

A Tesla owner said he camps in his Model S on long road trips.
Courtesy of David Craig

  • David Craig said he took his Tesla Model S on a 19-day road trip and slept in it almost every night.
  • The Tesla owner said Camp Mode made his trip much easier and stress-free.
  • The mode allows drivers to use AC or heat and charge devices without using too much battery.

A Tesla road trip? Don’t worry about range anxiety. You’ll do just fine, some owners say. In fact, the popular EV brand could be ideal for a cross-country journey.

David Craig has been on a number of bucket list road trips over the years, but he told Insider he found a new perk when he took his Tesla Model S on a 8,500-mile road trip — Camp Mode. Craig,a 71-year-old who lives in Southern California, said he took his 2020 long range Model S on a 19-day trip in May and used Tesla’s camping feature to take some of the stress out of traveling.

“I always know what I’m getting into when I camp in my Tesla,” Craig said. “Motels are much more risky. I’ve been in some really lousy motels on these road trips in the past.”

Craig said sleeping in his Tesla allows him to avoid the hassle of scheduling accommodations and checking in and out of motels each day. He said he simply puts the seat back in the car, grabs a pillow, and switches the EV into Camp Mode. 

The feature lets the car keep a steady temperature in the cabin, as well as proper airflow. You can also listen to music, stream television, turn on lights, or charge devices while the vehicle is in the mode. The feature, which was introduced in 2021, uses significantly less energy and even has a video of a crackling fire. It is one of many specialized Tesla features, including Dog Mode and Sentry Mode.

David Craig says all he needs to do is recline his seat, grab a pillow, and put the car in Camp Mode.
Courtesy of David Craig

Some companies even offer camping add-ons for Teslas. Though, Craig said he initially bought a mattress and used a sleeping bag to sleep in the back of the car, but he found it to be too claustrophobic and preferred sleeping in the front seat instead, which he called as “comfortable as a La-Z Boy.”

“With a traditional car you’d have to turn it off, it would get cold and you have to turn it back on,” Craig said. “In my Tesla, the temperature stays perfect and I’m comfortable all night long.”

During his 19-day trip, which took him to a wide variety of states, including Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, and Kentucky, Craig said he drove between six to 10 and-a-half hours a day without range anxiety, stopping for about 20 to 30 minutes to recharge at Superchargers during lunch breaks or before he went to sleep. 

David Craig said his Model S allowed him to check visiting several states off his bucket list without range anxiety.
Courtesy of David Craig

The Tesla owner said he felt safe parking near Tesla Supercharging locations because of the 24/7 activity at the locations.

Of course, not everyone sees the appeal of sleeping in a car, but on the bright side, Tesla charging stations are also often located near truck stops where owners like Craig can take a shower or do laundry. Craig said he doesn’t park at the charging stalls when he goes to sleep, but near enough that it looks like his car is charging. Craig’s vehicle has an estimated range of about 405 miles, according to Tesla.

Over the years, EV owners have shared horror stories about trying to find chargers on long road trips, including a road trip where a Kia EV owner had to stop 12 times to charge at slow public chargers and a Mustang Mach-E driver who had to stop at four charging stations while frantically searching for a working one. But, some Tesla owners say they have a distinct advantage when it comes to navigating longer journeys because of the company’s ultrafast Superchargers and Tesla’s internal navigation system, which bills itself as helping owners plot paths with multiple charging sites.

Craig said that when he took the Model S on his first road trip from California to Colorado shortly after buying it in 2020, he felt some range anxiety, but he quickly learned to trust the car’s internal navigation system and felt Tesla’s Autopilot driver assist feature took away some of the stress of driving long distances.

While some EV owners say they’ve had to get creative on road trips through rural areas, including using RV outlets and trickle-charging, Craig said that throughout his travels with the vehicle, including to remote locations like a small town in Kansas he found he was never too far from a Supercharger, many of which are scattered alongside interstates.

Do you own an EV or have insight — positive or negative — to share? Reach out to the reporter at [email protected]

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