When my husband and I first talked about taking our electric car on our upcoming road trip, I was a bit hesitant. A gathering for a high school reunion prompted the trip, but we wanted to take advantage of the location to visit family and do some exploring. My concern was that driving our EV might make us adjust our route too much. I’m a big fan of electric vehicles, but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to go somewhere because we wouldn’t be able to charge our car.
Normally, charging isn’t a problem. We plug our car in at home, charge overnight, and it’s ready to go in the morning. The car has plenty of range to last us at least a week with our usual daily driving needs. We had recently taken a couple of short trips that required some charging away from home, and they had gone well. Now that we were about to embark on a 1,300+ mile road trip, we knew that pre-planning would be important because of the multiple charging stops we’d need to make. Even with California’s relatively robust infrastructure of charging stations – especially Tesla-branded superchargers – they aren’t as ubiquitous as gas stations.
There seems to be (at least) two philosophies about road trip charging: A) Make fewer stops and charge to 100% each time, or B) Make more stops, but charge to lower levels (60 – 70%) each time. After some research, we like option B best for several reasons:
- Each charging stop takes less time. When charging past 60-70%, charging slows way down as it tries to “stuff” more juice into the battery (this is not a scientific explanation, but you get the point).
- More stops mean more opportunities to stretch our legs… something we’ve come to appreciate on longer road trips.
- Lower stress. By not waiting until the car’s charge level was low before we re-charged, we would have a comfortable range cushion each time we reached a station (sort of like not waiting until your gas level indicator turns red before re-fueling).
The route we planned had us driving about 2 hours between charges and charging to no more than 70% each time. Of course, we could adjust this along the way, but that felt like a comfortable pace.
Between our home and our first night’s stay, we stopped at three supercharger stations. While our car charged – a process that took about 10-15 minutes – we entered our next destination into the car’s computer. After some calculations, it told us where the next supercharger was located, how much remaining charge we’d have when we got there, how many stations they had, and how many were available for use (updated real-time).
As we strolled along the waterfront in Morro Bay, California, we congratulated ourselves on completing the first leg of our journey without any issues. Our pre-planning had paid off. We were becoming more comfortable with the car’s systems and confident that we had made the right decision to drive our EV.
Copyright © 2023 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.
92 thoughts on “Part 1: Planning Our EV Road Trip”
Hope you’re having a great trip, Janis. Here in Aus, until charging stations become common in rural and remote Australia the only realistic option is a hybrid, which allows for more creativity in your schedule as a bonus. We’re planning to upgrade when the purchase price drops below the GDP of a small country. 😉
Car prices – even used cars – are nuts right now! I’ve had mine for a little over a year and could probably sell it for more than I paid. Hybrids could be a good option for you.
Ah ha! So you got a Tesla. Are you happy with it?
I’ve had mine for 2 and a half years and I love it. I usually need to stop (for a bathroom break or for food) well before the car needs to charge, so like you, I plug in when I need to stop, then unplug when I’m finished what I needed to do.
I love that the car tells me where the superchargers are located. I haven’t used any non-Tesla chargers yet, because the adapter I have is only for the super slow, level 1 chargers, which (to me) are useless unless you are plugged in overnight at a hotel.
Please keep us informed about your experience.
Believe it or not, the Tesla is my third EV. My first, a Nissan Leaf, was t-boned in an intersection. My second, a Hyundai Kona (which I loved), had battery problems significant enough they bought it back from me. I’m enjoying the advanced technology Tesla offers and the ride is very comfortable. I can’t say that I’m crazy about the one screen (with teeny type) that does “everything.”
I’m glad it worked out. My step-daughter has a Tesla and loves sit. She lives in Denver and has no issues with charging.
I think that’s true of the more populated areas… plenty of charge stations. Hopefully the infrastructure will fill in as time goes on and more people are driving EVs.
This is so exciting. I’m glad to hear your experience, as we are thinking about our next vehicle. We have a Prius and have enjoyed the benefits of a hybrid, but because we regularly drive from SoCal to Oakland I have been reluctant, thinking that maybe the distance was prohibitive with EV. But it sounds like you’ve managed well. I’ll look forward to your Part 2! I do believe EV is a wonderful way to go, and I’m thinking it’s only going to get easier. Congratulations!
With the higher ranges now available, that journey would be quite doable. Check out the ev trip planner site to see what stations (both fast chargers and regular) are now available. But you are right, it will only get better.
An interesting post, Janis. First hand experiences offer many insights. Points 2 and 3 always apply to us, too. You make a good point on how you can adjust your initial plans. Exceptionally stunning photo at Moro Rock. Safe travels and I look forward to reading more about your journey.💕
In the not-so-distant future, I imagine that longer trips in EVs will be common, but we felt like we were adding a little adventure to our adventure. One of these days, we may drive it up to Canada.
Enjoyed part 1
And the option B fill up sounds like a great way to go about it – stretching and less stress
I agree! Powering through can be tempting but it’s exhausting.
and the hubs and I were just talking about what folks with EV’s will do during an evacuation – (esp with hurricane Ian in Florida right now and I guess FL and CA have the most EVs) – and will there be enough charging stations along evacuation routes? Hmmm
Interesting question. I would think that, if there was the possibility of an evacuation, you would make sure you had a full charge (giving you a 250-400 mile range, depending on your EV) just like you’d want to have a full gas tank. I think that range would be enough to get you out of harm’s way. Interestingly, if there is a loss of power from your utility, newer EVs are being made capable of providing power back to your home.
Thanks for the reply – and I heard about F150s powering the home like a generator and it really is cool to have these options!
hope you are having a nice start to the week
I love it. I do hope my next car is an electric one. I’ll learn from your trial and errors! 🙂
I can’t imagine driving a gas car again. EVs are great for day-to-day driving and, we are finding, not to challenging for road trips.
Love that photo!! We just bought a hybrid as with a rural life and travel to areas that don’t support the tech needs an EV was not an option, just like the Australian reader above. But super happy with our Lexus Hybrid and feel like we are doing our bit. Bernie
Hybrids do seem like a good alternative when the charging infrastructure isn’t there. I’m glad you like your Lexus… they are great cars.
This was very reassuring. My son got a Tesla about a month ago and I worry about the recharging thing. But then I’m always the one who starts worrying at ½ tank and definitely does a fill-up at ¼ tank or sooner. I’m driving (very little) an 11-year-old Subaru and don’t expect to ever get another car. Still, that Tesla is amazing. I call it my son’s Magic Car.
My husband has a older Subaru too and it just keeps on going. I’m glad your son likes his Tesla… they do seem magical in some ways. As more and more charging stations are added EVs will become more common, I think.
Wow, this is super interesting, Janis. I love our Prius plug in , but it only goes 27 miles on a charge. That is super around Prescott, but we always have the back up of a gas engine. Our Fiat went 80-100 miles on a charge, but at the end, if you didn’t make it to a charging station, you were towing it. So it wasn’t good for long trips. It is exciting to see how you planned your trip. Well done!
EVs are getting longer and longer ranges (ours has about 260 miles when charged at 100%) but day-to-day, we don’t need that much… even throughout the week. It does help to have a charger at home.
We plug ours in at home. We have free electricity in our garage through our condo. But we never charge it anywhere else. We can do all our errands on one charge.
Wow, free charging… nice!
Interesting! Look forward to reading more. Like many people we are considering options to replace our 2 petrol/gas cars, neither of which is used much these days, apart from trips away.
We like having one EV and one gas car (neither of which get as much use as they did when we worked). That being said, my husband really would like to get an EV too when it’s time to get a new car.
It’s interesting to hear how the planning part of the trip went. It’s good that things are working out as planned. Have fun!
We are back now and (spoiler alert) all went well, and we had fun 🙂
Interesting analysis of the pros and cons of driving your vehicle on vacation. I like the idea of more stops to charge and stretch your legs. Your planning paid off– both for peace of mind and a good blog post.
We thought it was interesting that fewer stops and higher charging levels could actually end up taking more time overall. As it turned out, each stop took about 10-15 minutes and then we were back on the road with plenty of charge to get us to our next destination. Easy peasy.
I am amazed at how many charging stations you have in the US. Such a long road trip would not yet be possible here in Canada.
I was surprised when I saw that map too (and that’s only Tesla superchargers). The charging stations are mostly grouped around population centers, but I imagine there will be more of them as time goes on.
Hi, Janis – Part One of your trip sounds perfect. I can’t wait to read Part Two. Our eldest son has a Tesla and he absolutely loves it!
They are great cars and, if you love techie stuff, a lot of fun to explore. Part 2 coming up 🙂.
Thanks for sharing, Janis! I met a woman driving a Tesla while we were both waiting for a little ferry (island life, amiright? 😉) and she said much the same…you get used to planning your trip like you would plan where you would stop to buy fuel for trip with a gas-powered vehicle. A few differences but if you plan ahead, no biggie.
Exactly. Longer trips require a bit of planning but it really wasn’t a problem. Our next trip will be even easier now that we are “pros” 🙃
This is so hopeful to know that charging stations are more available. Saving my nickles and dimes for that car.
I think the infrastructure will continue to improve and more EV options made available. Years ago, we got to drive one of the first modern EVs… they’ve come a long way since then.
Hi Janis, we have been considering EV for a while, and charging on road trips has been our biggest concern. Will be following with interest. Thanks!
There are a few great apps and websites that locate charging stations along your route (and that you can look at to help you determine if an EV is right for you). Also, since most (all?) EVs have this info built into their nav systems, you can find each charger location easily.
Great informational hands-on data! Your EV trip really puts a new spin on what it means to be ‘the navigator’ in the road trip.
It was a good trip with a bit of a learning curve… but it’s good to learn new things, right ? 🙃
Thank you for sharing your planning and your trip with us, Janis. I have been curious about road trips with an EV. 10-15 minute stops aren’t so bad. I was thinking they would be more like 30-60 minutes. Your photo of Morro Rock is absolutely stunning. Happy travels!
The stops were pretty quick at the superchargers, and they often felt even shorter because other EV owners were around to chat with.
I’m so glad your trip worked out! Planning ahead is the key when trying something new.
Absolutely! I’m sure we’ll feel much more confident next time.
It’s a great spot to spend your first night of the trip at. You had a lovely sunset too! I hope the rest of the trip goes smoothly and you’re have loads of fun!
Since the west coast was in a heat wave when we were there, we were very grateful for the cool coastal breezes. The sunset was a bonus 🙂
You make it look so easy, Janis! The software seems to be a huge help in trip planning, and you clearly make good use of it. Thanks for sharing your plans and how well it worked. Happy Travels.
Thank you, Diana! New cars these days are like computers on wheels.
Ha. True. That’s wonderful and scary!
That’s a great pace for a road trip. Only having to “wait” for fifteen minutes to get enough charge is nothing! That’s what we usually spend at a gas station each time we fill up. But I’m sure our cost is higher. 🙂 I assume the charging stations charge for the electricity? I have no idea what something like that costs.
Yes, somehow (magic, I assume) when we plug in, our car is linked with our Tesla account. The charge for the charge then appears on our credit card bill.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Janis. It is very topical now as many readers look to be considering a purchase of an EV soon or in the future. Even though there aren’t so many chargers here in Australia, there may be more than the comment indicates above, at least in my state. They have added them so that one can travel from Brisbane to Cairns every 200 km or so. – something an EV could achieve, in fact one of my neighbours recently did that in a Kona.
There has been some criticism here about Teslas so it is good to hear that you are really happy with it. Apparently you can wait 12 months for one here and then sell it on the facebook marketplace fo about $30,000 more than the initial purchase price, after it arrives. Such is the demand…..
I know there is a wait for a Tesla, but I’ve heard that for other cars too because of supply issues. Crazy about the re-sale prices. There are pros and cons for Teslas, and I have a few issues with them, but they are good cars overall. As time goes on, there will be more and more EVs on the market to choose from.
Besides the one screen, what are the major cons of the Tesla?
Nothing major and not much beyond the screen. It’s a fine car and well-suited for our needs.
Janis, Great planning and beautiful picture of Morro Rock at sunset. I look forward to reading Part 2.
Thanks, Natalie. Glad to have you along for the ride 🙂
Such good info for those considering this alternative, Janis! Good to know the stops are a few minutes (I envisioned 2 hours!). Loved that map, LOL! Safe travels.
Home charging, on the 240V “level 2” charger we have does take longer, but that’s no problem since we just charge overnight while we sleep. The superchargers are much faster… thank goodness 🙂
Have a great journey. You have to explain the journey after return.
Trip with family is always special. Typing all trips with my family is flashing through my head.
Thank you. I will be posting more about our trip soon.
See? You’re a travel planner after all! I’d love to go to that area of California. I’m glad you seem to have had a great trip!
Haha! I’m much better in familiar areas… not so comfortable when travel involved airplanes and unknowns.
You’re a pioneer in my eyes! I am really really impressed by this. I’m reading the future here! – Marty
We were talking today to someone who had driven their EV from San Diego to Maine and back… more than once. Now that would have taken some planning.
Interesting! I’ve wondered how someone with an EV would manage a road trip; there aren’t a lot of charging stations in our area. (Of course, there may be more than I’m aware of since we *don’t* have an EV.)
Since charging stations aren’t on every corner like gas stations, they are easy to overlook. We were surprised to find them in large and small towns along the way. Even though they aren’t as common as gas stations, we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t have to wait to use one.
Loved reading this article! Safe travels!
I am glad you shared your experience with us. We have been contemplating, but have not done it yet.
We attended a local electric car event today and were both amazed at all the different cars that are available and heartened at how made enthusiastic people were there to learn more.
Interesting article and good planning on your part. Looking forward to reading part 2.
Thank you. We learned a lot about our car and what it was capable of on this trip.
Good to know this kind of trip is doable. I’ve always wondered how we could get the country to electric vehicles if it would be so difficult to travel.
When I got my first electric car back in 2012, the range was about 90 miles. That was fine for just getting around town but not much else. There also wasn’t the level of charging infrastructure we now have. Now, typical ranges are usually between 250 and 400 miles and there are a lot more charging stations. I think the technology will continue to advance rapidly.
Morro Rock at sunset is beautiful Janis. Truthfully, I’ve never seen a photo of a charging station so had no idea what they looked like. My car is 13 years old and yesterday I crossed the 10,000-mile mark, so that gives you an idea how much I drive. I also thought charging on the road would take much longer and this was no inconvenience at all!
We usually don’t drive very many miles either, so an EV fits our day-to-day lifestyle very well. Fortunately, the prices are coming down so even a very light driver can afford them. We saw a two-seater at an EV event yesterday that would be practical on most days. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
At the recent Auto Show which returned for the first time since before the pandemic, the EVs were very big, especially the “Lightning” truck with enough battery power to use as a generator for your home during a power outage. I think they are here to stay.
We saw a couple of the electric trucks at the EV event yesterday. Both the Ford 150 and the Rivian were pretty impressive looking. I prefer something smaller but they do fill a niche.
Well done! And so amazing that you can find out all that info down to how many stations are currently open. Wild.
Yes, it’s crazy how much info is available. The learning curve is challenging since it’s all new, but I love being connected like that. Of course, the young’ins don’t blink an eye at all the tech… it’s like breathing to them.
I think you’re way ahead of me with the tech. It both impresses and scares me.
Great you managed it!
Yes, it was fun!
Good on you for going all-electric, Janis. I can’t wait to get rid of my IC engine and join you in the 21st century. If there ever was a trend, it is the continued advancement of EVs and expansion of charging stations. At some point, we will all be driving battery-operated cars, and Mother Nature will be very thankful.
We still have my husband’s older ICE car but, when it dies, he’ll go electric also. Once you drive an EV, you’ll never want to go back… and now we know that travel is very doable.
Good on you two, Janis. Enjoyed reading about your planning and now I will head to the next installment. Nothing quite like a good roadtrip to blow away a few cobwebs.
My husband and I love road trips and taking one in our EV added an extra layer of interest. Of course, it helps that our state’s charger infrastructure in pretty good.