Insider tips for a successful EV road trip

Embarking on an EV road trip can be an exciting adventure. To help you prepare for anything the road throws at you, we interviewed four experienced EV road trippers in the Plugsurfing team: our Strategy and BI Lead Wilhelm Henriksson, product manager Matthew Lapsley, Senior Product Manager Sofia Stadler, and Partnership Manager Niki Zaeske. They shared their insights on preparing for the journey, choosing chargers, and making the most of waiting time.

How to prepare for a summer road trip with an EV

Planning and preparing

Freedom to change your plans when it suits you means that you should have a plan to begin with. With some preparation, you can make your trip go a lot smoother.

Research charging stations and routes

Before your journey, check the available charging stations along your planned route. Consider factors like the distance between chargers and nearby amenities.

Matthew gives a practical example: “I choose chargers based on when it feels like a good time to stop and if there is a decent place to eat or walk the dogs.” You can easily look up chargers nearby your favorite restaurants and parks along the way in the Plugsurfing app.

Charging speed matters

Different chargers work for different use cases. Faster chargers can reduce your charging time during stops, making your trip more efficient. But a high-speed charger is not ideal for every situation.

Our team recommends choosing AC over DC when you plan to make a longer stop anyway. The price per kilowatt is often lower and there are more chargers to choose from, especially in the city centers. As an added benefit, combining EV charging with overnight parking hits two birds with one stone.

Both Sofia and Wilhelm tend to go for high-speed charging when they need to get back on the road quickly. But in the city, using an AC charger makes sense. As Sofia explains: “I don’t need the speed but it’s nice to get a top-up when I’m stopping anyway.”

Use navigation systems and apps

Take advantage of your car’s navigation system or reliable third-party apps. For example, the Plugsurfing app gives you real-time information about availability and charging speeds. You can then use Google or Apple Maps to get you to a charging location on your route.

Having great onboard navigation can be a game changer. Although it doesn’t hurt to check for your route beforehand, many drivers just let the car do the actual planning.

“Usually, I just enter the address in the satnav and charge where the car tells me to,” says Niki.

Have a backup plan

On a road trip, you may want to leave your options open: Instead of taking the originally planned scenic route, you can head out to the highway to make a better time.

In addition to planning alternative routes, it doesn’t hurt to have the charging figured out for those roads.

Niki also wants to remind you to be ready for unexpected situations. Even if you follow your original plans, it’s smart to have another charging spot in mind in case one doesn’t work. This can reduce stress and keep your trip running smoothly.

Charge when you need to stop

We asked our drivers how to pass the time while waiting for the car to charge. The question turned out to be outdated; with the range and charging speed of a modern EV, the people in the car need more frequent stops than the car itself. Stretching your legs and switching drivers every couple of hours also helps make the trip safer.

Sofia emphasizes charging when you need to take a break, not the other way around: “Earlier this year, my partner, our 8-month-old baby and I went on a road trip from Sweden to Sardinia. During our 6-week trip, we never stopped because we had to charge. We stopped because we had to eat, change a diaper, or do something else than sitting in a car.”

Niki can relate to this: “With a 1-year-old onboard, we always have to stop more often than what the car’s maximum range would allow, so we don’t have to kill time. We do what we have always done: eat, use the restroom and walk the dogs. Usually, we humans take more time to be ready to continue the trip than the car.”

Skip the queues

Our EV pros hadn’t encountered any serious issues on their travels. But none of them are fans of queuing for a charger. Sofia recommends taking a deep breath and looking for alternatives nearby.

Niki has some practical tips for skipping the queues altogether:

  • Plan your trip to avoid the peak travel days
  • Pick a location with more chargers – they aren’t so vulnerable to queues
  • Prefer more expensive networks

The last tip may seem counter-intuitive, but Niki chooses convenience over cost-effectiveness: “Availability is the key thing for me. I charge mainly at home, so when I am on the road, I don’t focus on the price. It’s still cheaper than buying gasoline,” Niki laughs.

How to deal with range anxiety

Keeping an eye on your EV’s range and the distance to your destination can be a blessing and a curse if you have range anxiety. Matthew constantly checks the real-time range of his car: “The range can radically reduce, and then I get scared.”

However, he has found that tools like Apple Maps can provide useful information about expected capacity and destination percentage, helping ease any worries.

Another way to reduce your anxiety is to have a mental limit for when to head for the nearest charger. For example, if you know that your car can still go another 100 kilometers with 30 percent of the battery, you have enough range to react.

Wilhelm also brings up economic driving habits as a way to make the most of each charge. By maintaining a steady speed and avoiding sudden accelerations, you can extend your vehicle’s range.

Get ready for your next adventure with Plugsurfing

Thanks to the great advances in electric vehicle technology and the expanding charging infrastructure, road trips in an electric car are now much easier. You no longer have to worry about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with an empty battery.

But there are hundreds of charge point operators in Europe. Especially on a long trip, downloading an app and setting up your payment method even for the main ones can become frustrating. It’s a much more carefree experience with just one app.

This is where we step into the picture: Plugsurfing is made for road trips. You can find compatible chargers near you or on your route, and see the speed, price and real-time availability in the app. With Plugsurfing, you can access over 500,000 charge points in 27 countries, and pay conveniently for your charging.

Download the Plugsurfing app to make the most of your EV road trip. Whether you’re in the early planning stages or already cruising down the road, stay focused on what truly matters during your journey.