Tips for Your Summer EV Road Trip

It’s going to take a little longer

You’ve had your EV for a while now and you’ve gotten over your initial range anxiety and you’re ready for your first major road trip. It’s summertime after all and being on the road for hours on end to visit friends, family, or a major amusement park is a bit of an American tradition. 

If you’ve decided that flying is an expensive pain (it is) and that you’re ready to take the plunge, it’s time to plan your first EV road trip. Unlike hopping in your gas car and just heading out, driving an electric vehicle for hundreds, maybe thousands of miles still require actual planning. 

Person charging an EV

Electrify America

That is unless you have a Tesla. Say what you want about Elon Musk (and don’t worry, he’d be happy to say things about you if he had the chance), Tesla’s Supercharger network is a top-notch almost worry-free network of stations that are tightly integrated with Tesla vehicles. Just put in a destination and the ecosystem tells you where to stop and for how long. 

For the rest of the EV world, it’s a bit more work. 

All the Apps

Download all the charging station apps and set up accounts. While companies like Electrify America do offer discounts on charging for a small monthly fee, make sure you’re going to actually use the system on a regular basis to justify the expense. Regardless, get the Electrify America, EVgo, Charge Point, and any other EV charging station apps available. 

Setting up accounts will make everything go a bit smoother if the station’s credit card reader isn't working correctly. I’ve actually encountered charge stations with bad card readers and I had to use the app instead. 

But it’s not just the charging station company apps, get apps that show all the stations in an area like Charge Hub. That way you’re not opening and closing applications to find the nearest spot to plug in your vehicle. 

Finally, go out and get probably the most important app out there right now for EV road trips, A Better Route Planner

Better Route Planning

Person using A Better Route Planner on a laptop


While automakers are getting better about upgrading their route planning features in their EVs, they’re still behind Tesla in that regard and that’s where A Better Route Planner comes in. This service is both an app and site that can be used to… well plan a better EV route to a destination. 

An automaker actually told me about this service a few years ago for a long EV road trip. It’s only gotten better since then and I’m surprised this company hasn’t been purchased by an automaker hoping to jump-start their route planning features. 

With it, you can input your vehicle and its state of charge. Then toss in your destination and how much battery percentage you want when you arrive and the system does the rest. If you create an account you can do all of this on the website and then open the saved trip on your phone. 

The basic features are free but if you want information like charger availability, the weather, and traffic info, and you want A Better Route Planner to work in Android Auto or CarPlay, you’re going to have to pony up $5 a month or $50 a year. There is a 14-day trial so if you want to try it out on your road trip, you can. That said, a lot of work has gone into this app and if you drive long distances in your EV on the regular, throw these folks some cash for their hard work. 

100% Ready

Hyundai Ioniq on the road


I’ve told you, the automakers have told you, and really anyone that knows anything about EVs has told you, don’t charge your EV to 100 percent on a regular basis. Well, this isn’t a regular thing and now’s the time ahead of your long drive to put all the electricity you can into your vehicle’s battery. The night before the trip, set your vehicle to accept a 100-percent charge. 

On the road, while DC fast charging, you have a choice. Charge to 100 percent but wait forever for the last 20 percent, or get up to 80 percent and head on out. You’re likely totally fine with just an 80-percent charge if you’re sticking to the major interstate arteries. 

Also, if you’re traveling during a major holiday, don't be the person that makes everyone else wait so you can get to 100 percent charge when you don't need a 100 percent charge. 

Holiday Lines

Holiday traveling is always going to be a gridlock-filled pain. No matter what you drive, add more time to your travel plans. Lines at the pump are common so expect to see lines for charging stations. That means the wait is going to be longer. 

Sure it’ll be a bit more complex than driving a gas vehicle but at the end of the day, you’ll conquer another part of EV ownership, the long-distance drive.

This is where you have to make a food decision. Either head to the drive-through before charging because of the long line to actually plug into a charger or wait and wander over to a restaurant after you plug in your car and enjoy some time out of your vehicle. Either way, take a break and try to be as patient as possible as everyone tries to figure out this whole road tripping with EVs during a very busy part of the year. 

Gas Alternative

Electric charging station at night

Electrify America

There’s no shame in realizing that your destination is too far out of the way for your EV. Or it’s going to add additional stress to an already stressful part of your vacation. If you drive an EV because you care about the planet, deciding to rent a gas vehicle for a road trip shouldn’t make you feel guilty. Sometimes easier is better and a majority of your driving is battery powered. 

If I’m going on a long road trip with our dogs, we rent a minivan. There’s lots of room in the back for them to relax and we have plenty of space for our luggage and friends. Until the ID Buzz is available, we still cruise with gas. But going gas is going to cost you. 

Car rental and gas prices are still insanely high. So you’re going to pay for that convenience. 

If you decide to stick with your EV, sure it’ll be a bit more complex than driving a gas vehicle but at the end of the day, you’ll conquer another part of EV ownership, the long-distance drive. With the right apps and some patience, you’ll be able to see family or friends and tell them all about your road trip adventures. But also, bring your mobile charging cable and ask grandma if you can plug your car in at night. She’ll be cool with it. After all, you drove all that way to see her. 

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