10 Tips for Planning a Road Trip With Your Electric Vehicle

Before you hit the road with your EV, learn how to drive long distances without running out of power.

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Updated June 13, 2024
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Whether you own an electric vehicle (EV) or intend to rent one, it is important to follow some specific steps before attempting a long trip.

If you live in the city, chances are good EV charging stations are relatively accessible. But that’s not always the case on long road trips.

If you are looking for ways to travel more and are considering a road trip in an EV, make sure you know these tips to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and environmentally friendly experience.

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Know your car’s driving range

ExpressVectors/Adobe businessman holds steering wheel

Your EV’s driving range will determine when you need to stop to charge. There's no one-size-fits-all expectation here: Some vehicles have a much longer range than others.

To find out about your vehicle’s range, look at your owner’s manual or do some research on the specific make and model you own. If you’re renting, consider choosing the vehicle with the longest possible driving range so you can minimize stops along the route.

Include charging time in your travel schedule

ake1150/Adobe hybrid electric car charging battery

You'll need to stop to charge at various points during your trip. When planning your schedule, make sure to account for these charging stops.

Typically, EVs take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours to charge. Plan your route so you can do something else while you wait for the vehicle to charge. You could visit a museum, grab lunch, or even engage in a bit of retail therapy.

Look ahead so you know where charging stations are available

pikselstock/Adobe charging of an electric car

Know where the charging stations will be along the route. Odds are good that many areas along your route will not have a charging area.

Use apps such as PlugShare or ChargePoint to help you find charging stations. These will provide you with a detailed list of charging stations along the route. Such apps can make planning much easier.

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Don't overpack the car

Tierney/Adobe new tesla model 3

The more you take with you, the more often you'll likely need to stop to charge your EV. Any weight you can remove from the vehicle could help to boost its driving range.

As you pack your vehicle, keep it as light as possible. Renting a bike instead of bringing your own might actually save you time and money.

Know how the weather might impact range

VAKSMANV/Adobe woman traveling in electric car

Colder weather can reduce your EV’s driving range. If you are heading into an area with significantly colder temperatures, it might mean more frequent stops to charge up.

According to Recurrent, which tracks the lifespan of EV batteries, colder temperatures can reduce battery range by anywhere from 3% to about 33%.

That drive through the desert won’t be any better for your EV’s range. Heat can reduce your battery range by about 5% when temperatures reach 90 degrees and as much as 31% when temperatures are at 100 or higher, Recurrent says.

Drive in ways that maximize range

ryanking999/Adobe smart self driving car

How you drive matters. Don’t speed, as that can reduce driving range and efficiency. Higher speeds simply require more energy use.

Vacations are a time to relax. So, slow down, enjoy the scenery, and avoid high speeds that drag down your range.

Look for hotels with charging stations

William/Adobe an electric car on-street

You will need to sleep, and that will be the perfect time to charge your EV. Some hotels offer EV charging stations, and staying at one is ideal when you travel in an EV.

Make sure you understand any associated costs. A free EV charging station at a hotel could be a good reason to choose that hotel.

Make sure credit card protection covers EV rentals

Sergei Belski/Adobe electric car driving mountains snow

If you rent an EV for a road trip, find out if your credit card offers car rental insurance that applies to EVs.

This is not always the case. Not having the right coverage could be a costly oversight should something happen on the road.

Ask if your EV rental needs to be charged before you return it

Halfpoint/Adobe close up of electric car

Some rental companies require users to charge up EVs before returning them to the agency. This is an added step in your trip, but you might be hit with a costly fee if you fail to do so.

If you aren’t sure about the company’s rules, ask before you rent.

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Have a flexible attitude

sashapritchard/Adobe man driving tesla electric car

Let’s be honest: Road trips always require some flexibility. Driving an EV on a road trip — particularly if it is your first time — might require you to be patient and adaptable.

To enjoy this trip, you need to be ready for anything. A positive attitude will go a long way to making sure your vacation is as much fun as you hope it will be.

Bottom line

Mike Mareen/Adobe Tesla Model Y on mountain

Using an EV for a long road trip could be a good idea. Not only does it help the environment, but it can allow you to keep more cash in your wallet instead of being forced to spend money on gas.

Yet, it’s important to take steps and make adjustments so your EV does not run out of power at an inconvenient time. Following the tips on this list can help ensure that your next road trip in an EV turns into a journey worth taking.

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Author Details

Sandy Baker

Sandy Baker is a has over 17 years of experience in the financial sector. Her experience includes website content, blogs, and social media. She’s worked with companies such as Realtor.com, Bankrate, TransUnion, Equifax, and Consumer Affairs.