Charging up your summer holiday: essential tips for a relaxed EV vacation
Today is the official start of summer, and you might have already started counting down to your summer holidays. A couple of weeks ago we conducted a poll on LinkedIn to find out if and how you were planning to travel this summer. 35% of the respondents said they would be driving their EV or hybrid car to their holiday destination, so we thought we’d give you some tips to help you prepare and get there safely and without stress.
Plan and prepare
If you’ve driven your EV for a while, you’re probably aware of its normal battery consumption. However, when you’re planning to take a caravan, a boat trailer or a roof box with you, it’s advisable to do a ‘test drive’. This allows you to better estimate what the actual consumption is during your holiday trip and you learn to anticipate unexpected situations during charging (uncouple the trailer Yes/No, charging cable in the trunk or somewhere else due to bicycle carrier, etc.) Never fast charged before? Then try it out before you go on holiday and find out how easy it is!
Plan your trip with your car's navigation system and stick to it. There are all kinds of apps available to plan your route. However, they cannot take into account the state of charge of your car. The in-car navigation does. This adapts the route to your range and the availability of charging stations. Will there be traffic jams, diversions or busy charging stations? Your navigation will calculate an alternative route with charging stops.
Check the charging options in the area of your destination. For example, will your hotel, rental home or campsite have charging points, and will you be able to charge while visiting local attractions. Online resources, including the app from your charging station supplier, but also Google Maps, are a good starting point.
"Did you know there are websites that only offer hotels with guaranteed charging solutions within a radius of 250 meters?"
The internet is your friend. There are many blogs like this one that educate you on electric driving and share tips on where you should go to charge properly and comfortably. But also on topics like how to charge with your caravan or boat trailer behind the car, can be found online. Just so you know, there are charging stations available where you can keep the trailer coupled to the car.
There are approximately 900 different providers of public charging stations active in Europe. They provide charging options at more than 400,000 charging stations. The most commonly used payment method is a charge card, however, not every card is accepted at every charge point.
Bring a charge card with coverage abroad and download the app for your charge card. This way you can check the charging costs in advance, and start and stop charging in the app.
Check the website of your charge card supplier to see what the coverage is of your card. If the coverage isn’t at least 60% of all public charging stations, make sure you plan your journey well and possibly allow for more time. Possibly opt for a different charge card.
"Did you know that you can fast charge with many Tesla Superchargers, even without a Tesla? Tesla has the largest fast charging network in Europe with reliable charging stations. Download the Tesla app and link your credit card or your Athlon MobilityCard and your charging options increase significantly."
The charging rates may differ per charging station and time of day. Note: some charging stations charge a price per minute on top of the electricity price! Always check the charging rate first in the app of your charge card.
Do the math
Keep enough power in your battery, at least 10%. Save yourself a lot of stress and recharge when you can. You can also recharge if you still have 40% or 30% battery left. Then you can take off again quicker!
At a fast charger, charge your battery to a maximum of 80%. Above that, the charging speed goes down significantly, and it's not good for the battery.
Monitor the progress
First make sure the charging session actually started; it’s very frustrating to find out after thirty minutes that nothing happened. Then keep an eye on the progress during charging, for example via your car's app. Sometimes it goes faster than you think. Done charging? Move your car so someone else can use the charger.
During holiday periods when many people are on the road simultaneously, it can be very beneficial to plan your travel schedule in a way that allows you to avoid the busiest and most congested times on the road.
Most people tend to drive on Saturdays and as a result, there are many traffic jams and the chance of crowds at the charging stations is high. By not driving at the weekend but, for example, leaving on Thursday and making one or two extra overnight stops, your journey will be more comfortable. You can also choose to stop earlier at a charging station than you need to, this makes you more flexible.
Enjoy the ride
You can see charging as a necessary evil or as an opportunity to take a break and enjoy the surroundings. Having your kids kick a ball around or play a game to let them burn off some energy, can do wonders for the mood on the backseat of the car. With a little planning and imagination, the charging breaks can be turned into an outing.
The faster or more unevenly you drive, the faster you drain the battery. During longer journeys you can save a lot of charging time by driving as smoothly as possible. The best way to do this is by turning on the cruise control. Driving an EV also means a quieter, more comfortable and enjoyable journey. Why race past landmarks and scenic beauty when you're in the perfect car to really enjoy it?
Whether you’re driving an EV, a hybrid or an ICE vehicle, many destinations will require for you to drive across toll roads. Before your trip, research the toll road system in the countries you'll be traveling through. Understand the locations of toll roads, the toll collection methods used (e.g., cash, electronic tolling), and the associated costs. This information will help you plan your route and budget accordingly. And, if you’re driving an EV, make sure to check if there are working chargers on these roads and otherwise be sure to charge before you pass the toll booth.
France has an extensive toll road network known as Autoroutes. Autostrade, the Italian toll road network, covers a significant portion of the country and connects major cities and regions. The Spanish toll road network is particularly prominent in regions such as Catalonia, Andalusia, and Valencia. Portugal has toll roads that are primarily located on major highways, connecting different regions and cities within the country. Greece has toll roads on major highways, particularly around Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in some other regions of the country. Ireland has a few toll roads, including the M50 motorway in Dublin, where toll charges apply, and the UK has several toll roads and bridges, including the Dartford Crossing near London and the Severn Bridge crossing between England and Wales.
Toll vignettes, also called toll stickers or highway vignettes, are permits required for driving on certain highways or motorways in many countries. In some countries, instead of toll booths, you need to purchase and display a vignette on your windshield to access the toll roads
Austria has a vignette system for all motor vehicles using the Austrian motorway and expressway network. Switzerland has a vignette system similar to Austria. All vehicles traveling on Swiss highways are required to display a vignette, which can be purchased at border crossings, post offices, and petrol stations.
Plan for busy periods
Toll roads can experience heavy traffic during peak travel periods, such as holidays or weekends. Consider this factor when planning your travel itinerary to minimize delays and congestion.