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How to Take an Electric Vehicle Road Trip: A 3,600 Mile Case Study

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The concept of electric travel is here, and it starts with cars. After taking a massive 3,600-mile roundtrip road trip with an electric car, I’m convinced the use case for electric travel is coming. Here is an ultimate guide on how to take a road trip in an electric vehicle.

A road trip in an electric vehicle is a great idea as you have no emissions from your direct consumption.

It’s a great way to get around, see the sights, and feel good. Who loves smelling gas in the middle of a national park or an amazing landscape?

The simplicity of an EV makes a road trip that much more appealing. Currently, taking a road trip in an electric car requires careful planning.

You won’t be able to drive to your destination without thinking about a place to charge or, in a traditional sense (fill up on gas).

You’ll need to plan your trip around your charging needs instead. That doesn’t mean you can’t still see the sights you want. It just means that you may have a bit more of a challenge in doing so.

It may take longer. It may require an extra stop. But what if an extra stop becomes a pleasant surprise? Even better, right? We’ve got you covered from both angles.

One is to make sure you make the most of an EV road trip, but also ways to make the most of your trip (regardless if it means taking a little bit extra time).

Why? Because we did it. I drove over 1,800 miles in 3 days in a Tesla Model 3 standard range from Minnesota to California.

Electric Vehicle Road Trip
Tesla Model 3 at Zion National Park

Then, a few weeks later, I did the same 1,800+ miles in 3 days. Yeah, I learned a ton along the way. I know that there needs to be a whole lot more charging stations in the United States.

They don’t need to be fast chargers because a plugged-in electric car is happy. In the meantime, you can watch our entire trip and hear more about taking a road trip in an electric vehicle from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Benefits of EV road trips compared to other vehicles

Scenic winter road trip through Wyoming's rugged landscapes, showcasing snowy cliffs and blue skies
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Vehicles that use electricity to power their motors are known as electric vehicles or EVs for short. These cars have many benefits over traditional gasoline-powered cars, including being more environmentally friendly, cheaper, and often quieter.

One of the best things about electric vehicles is that they are perfect for road-tripping. They can easily accommodate your belongings thanks to their spacious interiors and ample cargo space. They also have a much longer range than gas-powered cars, meaning you can travel further without stopping and refueling.

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and as more and more people switch to them, the availability of charging stations will continue to grow.

How to Take a Road Trip in an Electric Car

Let’s get into the steps to taking a road trip in an EV.

Step 1: Pre-Plan Your Trip with Precision

Tesla in Snow

The days of just winging a road trip are gone if you have an electric car. Yes, some EVs can help you determine the best route on the fly, but pockets of land still don’t have enough charging stations.

I like planning my trip in a variety of ways. First, as a Tesla owner, I like to use the Tesla Trip Planner web app.

Then, you must have mobile apps for PlugShare and ChargeHub to find charging stations beyond just the typical Tesla superchargers and destination chargers.

See Related: Best Camper Accessories

Step 2: Have Every Adapter Possible

The next thing you need to have is adapters. It sounds like a small thing, but it’s a big task that can get expensive. It’s very much worth it. With still a small-ish size of EV charging stations across the world, you need every form of optionality possible.

These are great adapters for your electric vehicle to ensure you can charge at a speed regardless of the station.

List of the best adapters for an electric car road trip

Let’s get into some must-have adapters for electric cars. If you are a non-Tesla owner but want to connect to the Tesla charging network (except superchargers), you can use this adapter to get Tesla mobile charging, destination charging, and power wall connectors to charge your vehicle using a J-1772.

The amount of power (40amps max current and 250V max voltage) offered by this unit makes it possible for you to charge your vehicle fully in a few hours.

It’s very handy for EV road trips and coast-to-coast car travel. This portable Tesla to J1772 Adapter is compact and quite durable, making it ideal for use on the go.

This adapter is compatible with many big brands, such as BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Hyundai. This will be very helpful, especially when you have no idea what the next recharge station will look like.

The Lectron Tesla Charger to J-1772 Adapter shouldn’t be used on models of EVs that draw more than 40Volts. This will cause it to overheat, which is bad for the charger or your battery.

The next EV charger on the list is the Autel Maxicharger. If you don’t mind spending much on quality products, this is one of the best EV chargers. It has powerful performance (40amps of power & 240V) and can fully charge your EV 7 times faster than any standard Level 1 charging station.

With the myWallbox app, you can control the charging process of your EV via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Take advantage of this app to set reminders and find off-peak utility rates to save on your power bill.

The flexibility in charging is great for whenever you are using your EV to travel a long distance. Adjusting it from 16 amps to 40 amps will be useful when you only need minimum power and are connected to lower-power circuits.

No Wi-Fi in your garage? Worry not! The Autel Maxicharger has onboard intelligence to help you plug in and charge. You can also manage your schedules offline.

Another amazing feature of this EV charge is power-sharing. If you own more than one EV, you can charge them simultaneously using the same electrical circuit.

The chargers’ smart power management balances energy distribution to ensure smooth flow during charging.

JuiceBox Pro 40 32 Amp EV Charging Station

JuiceBox adapter

The JuiceBox Pro 40 is a great and portable level 2 charger you should consider when you take your EV out on the road. It’s US-built and comes with a 3-year warranty.

It’s a high-powered charger that utilizes the standard J1772 connector, making it ideal for a wide range of electric cars.

This EV charger can be controlled with a smartphone application called JuiceNet-Smart EV Charging.

The app allows you to control your charging schedules, amperage, real-time power metrics, and max charge rate.

It comes with two cables, which are:

  • A 24-ft output cable with a J1772 connector for a 40amp charging power and
  • a 15-inch input cable with a standard RV plug

The JuiceBox Pro is quite easy to install all you need is a 14-50 NEMA outlet, and you are set. Any other accessories are available to offer you the best experience possible.

As one of the smallest EVSEs of its group, the JuiceBox Pro is portable and can easily be installed in its wall mount bracket. It’s also made of fire and waterproof metal case, making it durable and good for indoor and outdoor use.

Be ready to spend a little more on its extra power. However, the JuiceBox Pro doesn’t support superchargers.

Morec Level 2 32 Amp EV Charging Station

Morec EV charger

The next EV charging station is the Morec Level 2 EV charging station. It’s a German product that has passed TUV and CE (EU) certification processes. Its large and colored LCD is a great feature that many consumers like.

Regarding charging speeds, this baby will charge your EV up to six times faster than any standard EV charging station. It has a max power output of 32 amps and 220-240V, and you should always use it with a NEMA 14-50 plug.

The High Strength ABS materials used in the Morec Level 2 Charging station will protect you from the following problems:

  • Under and over-current protection
  • Over-heating protection
  • Over and under-voltage protection
  • Leakage protection
  • Waterproof rating of IP66

To avoid potential problems such as a power surge while charging your EV, the Morec Level 2 comes with a Type A RCD to help balance the current of your home appliances.

This charger also comes with intelligent chips that help repair the charging station as it charges. You can see the results of the fixes on the LCD.

Primecon Level 2 EV Charger

Last on the list is the PRIMECON Level 2 EV charger, a budget electric charger offering great value for money. It functions properly at 16 amps and works within 100V – 240V, providing 3 to 4 times the voltage of a Level 1 110V charger.

With an LED charger status indicator, you’ll find this EV charger very handy. You can easily monitor the progress of your battery usage and be able to plan your travel accordingly.

It’s integrated with smart chips and software to ensure maximum battery life expectancy. It achieves this by always communicating with your EV before it starts charging.

Here is some of the information that it gathers:

  • Your battery capacity
  • Current battery level
  • Ambient and battery temperature
  • Regarding safety and security, the PRIMECON Level 2 EV Charger has been put through rigorous tests to ensure you only receive the best.

The following are some of the inbuilt features that help make this a great option for a budget EV charger:

  • Lightning proof
  • Leakage protection
  • Overvoltage
  • Overheat
  • Over-current protection
  • IP55 rating waterproof

See Related: Tips to Avoid a Boring Vacation

Step 3: Find Lodging With Charging Options

The best way to charge is when you are doing something else. Also known as… not in your car. The ultimate best time to charge is when you are sleeping; the good news is plenty of hotels have partnered with electric car charging stations.

The one we like the most is Marriott hotels for charging. So, put those to good use. The charge is usually free and included in your stay when you charge overnight.

Most Electric Car Friendly Hotels

Tesla in Front of The Venetian

Hotels are becoming more and more electric vehicle-friendly as they meet their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards.

These are some of the most electric car-friendly chain hotels out there.

There needs to be more hotels out there willing to support the movement to electrify America. This is a great opportunity for hotels to capture revenue and market share away from traditional gas stations.

How Camping is Perfect for Electric Vehicles

Utah Road Trip

Camping is awesome for electric vehicles. Most state and national parks are extremely friendly for electric vehicles, either offering free charging and/or priority plugins for charging.

If you are a Tesla owner, their cars are surprisingly versatile to convert into a camping setup, and you can keep your car plugged in while you camp. Tesla has a “camp mode,” so you can stay cool or warm but conserve power while visiting national parks.

See Related: Best California Road Trips

Step 4: Always Start Your Morning with a Full Charge

Tesla Model 3 dashboard with navigation map and autopilot function on night drive near Minneapolis.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

This plays a bit into the step right before this, but honestly, no one likes starting a road trip with a partial charge or tank of gas.

It’s even more important with an electric car. You’ll want to make sure you start your road trip with a full tank of electrons in case you run into any unexpected delays.

EV road trips are not inconvenient at all. They can be a lot of fun. You need to focus on maximizing your flexibility and over-compromising along the way.

Step 5: Have Fun on a Road Trip with an Electric Car

A white Tesla Model 3 set against a tranquil Mojave Desert landscape as the evening sky darkens.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

When you go on a road trip in an electric car, there are many things to consider. For one, you’ll need to ensure your car is fully charged before you set out. You’ll also need to pack food and drinks and ensure you have a map or GPS to help you find your way.

If you’re planning to stay in hotels or motels along the way, be sure to call ahead and reserve a room. And finally, don’t forget to have fun.

There’s nothing like hitting the open road and exploring new places.

See Related: Best Road Trips in America

Different types of charging stations

Tesla Model 3 charging at snowy Tesla Supercharger station
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

There are three types of charging stations for electric vehicles- level one, level two, and level three. Level one charging stations are the most basic and common type, and they use a standard 120-volt outlet that you would find in your home. This is the slowest charging method, and it can take up to 24 hours to fully charge a vehicle using this type of station.

Level two charging stations are more common and can be found in both commercial and residential environments. They typically use a 240-volt outlet, charging your car twice as fast as a level-one charger. However, this type of charger can be cumbersome and a hassle if you are looking forward to road-tripping.

Level three charging stations are the quickest and will charge a vehicle up to 70 percent in 30-60 minutes. This charger type is used for road travel, but it isn’t as common as level-two chargers. You can also find this type of station at many commercial locations.

In order to take an electric vehicle road trip, you will need to ensure that you have a reliable level three charger with the necessary cables and adapters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you take a road trip in an electric car?

Yes, absolutely. The cost savings of an electric car increase the more you use it due to the savings from no longer paying for gas. Electric vehicles are fully equipped for long-haul road trips in today’s age.

Are electric vehicles good for road trips?

It depends. Electric vehicles are dependent on mileage range. With a limited mileage range, an electric vehicle can still be a good car for road trips but may take longer for your trip. Electric vehicles, like a Tesla, are well-equipped for self-driving and other entertainment that can make your road trip much more enjoyable.

How should I prepare for a cross-country road trip in an electric vehicle?

Ensure you have a road trip planning checklist and the proper charging tools, including a backup charging cable, nearby charging stations mapped out, and EV charging apps to help you navigate your road trip journey.

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