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I’m renting a Tesla for my vacation — and now I'm nervous

 An all electric Tesla Model 3 in white on cement road with trees in background on sunny day.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It’s fair to say that I am a pretty loyal member of team-EV. I’ve been driving an electric car since early 2021, and have made the decision that I won’t be switching back to gasoline by choice. So when it came to booking a rental car for my upcoming vacation to Orlando, the first thing I did was check out what electric cars were available.

Not many, which isn’t a huge surprise, but I was able to secure a Tesla Model Y for the duration of my two-week trip. Everything is booked, paid for, and I’m guaranteed that particular car. The only problem is I’ve been getting nervous about the whole thing — even though I know I shouldn’t be.

Renting an EV felt like a no-brainer 

Tesla Model Y steering wheel

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The decision to rent an EV while I was on vacation wasn’t a very difficult one. When I booked the price difference between a Model Y and a gasoline-powered car wasn’t that great. Around $200 at the time of booking, compared to the cheapest car Hertz had to offer, and the Model Y was far from the most expensive car I could have considered. 

I don’t know what gas prices will be like come November, especially now the average cost of fuel is slowly decreasing, but not having to worry about how to find cheap gas in a tourist trap is the most appealing thing. Plus I’ll get to enjoy all the things that make a Tesla a Tesla, which you wouldn’t get in an ordinary two-door hatchback.

Hertz only asks that you return the car with at least 10% battery remaining.

Autopilot is going to make long driving trips an absolute breeze and the built-in navigation system means I won’t need to use any of my data roaming allowances to get around. On top of that, Hertz only asks that you return the car with at least 10% battery remaining (opens in new tab)

So no hunting down a gas station on the way to the airport, lest you end up with an extortionate bill from the rental company. Gas is expensive enough as it is right now, so I shudder to think what you’d end up paying after returning a car with an empty tank.

But in the weeks since I made the booking, I’ve started feeling a little anxious about renting an EV. Or more specifically I’ve been anxious about the prospect of recharging — a feeling that I’m a little familiar with. I felt much the same right before buying a Nissan Leaf, on account of the fact I can’t install an EV charger at home.

Irrational fears have come to the surface 

tesla model 3 at a supercharger station

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In my experience fears over charging and range anxiety are largely unfounded. There are problematic areas, and some cars do have extraordinarily low range, but I know these aren’t going to be problems on my vacation. 

But there’s that little voice hiding in the irrational part of my brain going “yeah, but what if everything goes wrong?”

The Tesla Model Y I booked has 303 miles of range, according to the website, so I’m not going to need to recharge that often. When you’re spending your days inside giant theme parks, the last thing you want to be doing is driving around. 

I also did my research on Orlando’s charging infrastructure before I paid for the car. How many chargers there are, where they’re concentrated, and the ratio of slower AC chargers and ultra-fast DC rapid chargers. I even looked at which hotels had their own charging facilities, in case any of them were within my price range.

Orlando ev charging points

There's no shortage of EV charger in Orlando (Image credit: PlugShare)

Sadly not, but from what I can tell Orlando’s EV charging infrastructure isn’t half bad. Significantly better than where I live, anyway, and there are a few areas where EV chargers and hotels seem to be concentrated. So I wasn’t left having to choose between a nice place to stay and easy access to car-friendly power.

A lot of the big parks have EV chargers, of course, but only in very limited numbers. The highest number is five, by my count, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Those chargers are available on a first-come basis, and odds are whoever gets there first will be plugged in all day. In my mind it’s not even worth considering those chargers as an option, as convenient as they might be.

In the end I chose a hotel right in the middle of a big cluster of chargers and pretty close to the parks. It also happens to be half a mile away from a Tesla Supercharger, and with easy access to at least two more. It doesn’t matter what you think of Tesla, the scale of the Supercharger network is pretty darn impressive.

But to top it all off, all of Hertz’s rented Teslas come with an adapter that lets you plug into J1772 chargers. So if you’re willing to charge a little slower, you’re not necessarily beholden to Tesla’s network.

Fear of the unknown is the real enemy here 

tesla model y: outlook

(Image credit: Tesla)

With all that in mind, you’d think that all my fears would be extinguished. And yet I still have occasional feelings of anxiety floating through my brain. No amount of logic or rational thinking is stopping those feelings from popping up every now and then.

The bays may be full when I need them, equipment may be broken, or I might have to spend my precious downtime waiting for the car to recharge.

While not to sound cliche, it’s all down to the fear of the unknown. My familiarity with Orlando is fleeting, at best, and part of my brain is going to wonder about things that may go wrong. The bays may be full when I need them, equipment may be broken, or I might have to spend my precious downtime waiting for the car to recharge.

And these fears are so incredibly stupid I’m annoyed at myself for feeling them. I didn’t feel like this last time I went to Florida, and had to fill my rental car with gas. And I know once I get to Orlando, my brain will click everything into place and stop its incessant worrying.

That’s exactly what happened when I bought my Nissan Leaf. I’d done my research, figured out where the local chargers were, how much they cost and still I felt anxious. As soon as I took the car to recharge, those feelings disappeared in an instant. Now the only thing I have to worry about is maneuvering around my neighbor’s atrocious parking.

But the run-up to my vacation is giving me some new-found sympathy for people who have concerns about making the switch to an electric car.

I own an EV, and I write about them on a daily basis, so I know I don’t need to worry about recharging my rental car — especially since it’s a Tesla. But I’m getting anxious in spite of this, so you can’t blame people with zero electric car experience for having concerns. No matter how much you can try to educate people, it’s no substitute for those people experiencing electric cars for themselves.

Bottom line

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that renting a Tesla for the duration of my vacation will go pretty smoothly. I’m getting a nice car with an impressive range estimate; there’s no shortage of charging points; and I’m not going to be doing a great deal of driving anyway. 

But no matter what I know and what I tell myself, that little voice at the back of my mind is pretty persistent. It may disappear for a few days, but it’ll always pop back up and hang around like an annoying song. 

Unfortunately that’s just the way things are, and the only thing I can do between now and November is wait. But hey, at least I know I’ll be able to enjoy myself once I actually get off the plane. 

If you're looking at renting an EV, you can read our comprehensive guide on how to rent an electric car.

Read next: Tesla Superchargers just hit a new milestone, and it shows how far EV charging has come

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online. 

  • USAFRet
    While you say it is "cheaper than Hertz", what service did you use to actually book and rent this Tesla?

    I'm interested in doing this for an upcoming vacation.
    Reply
  • Tom Pritchard
    USAFRet said:
    While you say it is "cheaper than Hertz", what service did you use to actually book and rent this Tesla?

    I'm interested in doing this for an upcoming vacation.
    It was rented from Hertz, they have a fleet of Model 3, Model Y and Polestar 2s. They're not the only rental company to carry EVs, but they have been buying them in fairly large numbers
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Gotcha.

    I looked for my upcoming location...out of luck..:(
    Under 'Green Traveler, all they had was a selection of hybrids.
    Reply