If you’re one of the many Americans planning a road trip this year, chances are you might come across the opportunity to make it electric. Whether you own an electric vehicle (EV) yourself or are considering renting one, how you plan for your adventure will differ from the traditional road trip. You might need to take a few extra steps when planning, but traveling by EV comes with its own unique perks!
Check out our top tips for planning your next eco-friendly adventure.
1. Always Plan Ahead
On an electric car road trip, spontaneity is not always your friend. While some destinations will be easier to get to than others, you’re not limited to where you can go. It just takes a little more planning. Depending on your route, the availability of charging stations can vary greatly—here’s what to take into account.
Know Your Charging Types
There are different types of charging stations that will impact how fast your car can charge. Depending on the type of charger and your car’s range, it may take you anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple days to reach full charge.
- Level 1: This type of charging can be done through a residential 120-volt outlet using the charger that comes with your EV. It's the slowest type of charge but can be used anywhere you have access to a wall outlet.
- Level 2: Slightly faster, level 2 charging is typically found in public spaces but can also be installed at home.
- Level 3 or DC Fast Charger: Direct current fast charging offers the quickest charging and is often found along heavily trafficked areas, at grocery stores and other public spaces. Level 3 chargers are ideal for road tripping or traveling beyond your car's range in a single trip.
Use EV Trip Planning Tools
As the demand for EVs grows, so does the number of trip planning tools and apps. When planning your electric road trip itinerary, tools such as PlugShare will allow you to map your destination and view the best charging stations to stop at. Electrify America, the largest public network of fast chargers, also has a convenient app. Easily locate nearby chargers, check availability and track your sessions.
2. Have a Backup Itinerary
Life happens—and can take you down many different paths. The same goes with road tripping in an EV. While you may have planned your route down to the nitty gritty, consider creating alternative itineraries in case your plans change unexpectedly. This will save you the headache of trying to find your next charger and can ease any range anxiety.
For example, if you’re planning a national parks road trip and the trail you want to hike is closed, where would you go instead? Prepare for the worst, but expect the best.
3. Travel in Warmer Months
The colder the weather, the lower the range. While extreme temperatures at both ends of the spectrum can reduce your range, colder temperatures tend to have a greater impact. According to one study by Recurrent, certain EV models can lose as much as 30% of their range in freezing temperatures. Try planning your trip spring through fall, or choose a warm-weather destination during the winter months!
4. Book Accommodations with EV Charging
When planning your road trip itinerary, you might find a lack of charging options in portions of your trip. If there’s minimal public charging, update your search to look for accommodations that offer private charging stations just for guests. You might be surprised by the range of eclectic motels and charming bed and breakfasts. Campgrounds and RV parks with electric hookups are also great options!
If you’re still not having any luck, level 1 charging is always an option. Contact your accommodations to see if they have any accessible outdoor outlets you can slow charge at during your stay.
5. Travel Slowly
While it may seem like a lot to consider, keep in mind the many benefits to taking an electric car road trip. The best advice for an eco-friendly road trip (electric vehicle or not)? Slow down and travel mindfully. By nature, road tripping in an EV will extend your travel time. So take advantage of the extra stops along the way, and explore towns and cities you wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Check out the family-owned coffee shop, stroll through a museum or chat with the locals—you might just discover some hidden gems along the way.
Claim your spot in our upcoming webinar, “U.S. Road Trips 2023 Edition: The Latest Trends and Outlook for Electric Vehicle Travel,” taking place on Wednesday, August 9, 3 pm ET.