A few weeks ago I guest posted on The Hungry Goat, and I figured this would be a good one to share with you today, since C, Khaleesi and I are hitting the road this morning. Also, my mom was asking questions about this very topic, so here you go, Mom!
With the holidays coming up, I know many of you will have some sort of road trip in store to see family– we’re making the 10 hour drive from Orange County to Flagstaff, AZ for Thanksgiving, and I am actually looking forward to it. Road trips are one of my favorite traditions, but last year we complicated this tradition a bit by purchasing an electric car (a Tesla).
One of the major hesitations people have about electric cars is the range it can get. We hear it all the time: sure, it’s a nice car, but you can’t exactly go very far, can you? It’s not something you can use for a road trip.
Au contraire! We’ve made several trips up to Northern California, even to the windy coastal highways of Big Sur, without ever having to purchase gas. In fact, it’s really not much different at all, and so I want to dispel the myth that electric cars are impractical.
First, it’s important to know that there are many electric car charging stations just off of major highways. Tesla has a network of superchargers up the west coast, down the eastern corridor, and along two routes that connect the two coasts. With the superchargers, you can get a full “tank” of electricity in about 25 minutes– a full charge gets you about 265 miles. Now sure, 25 minutes is longer than the 5-10 minutes it takes at a gas station, but it’s free, and you can walk away from your car while it’s charging to go grab a cup of coffee or some lunch.
There are some lower voltage chargers available too, and here’s where it takes just a little more planning than a regular trip. We usually make reservations at hotels that have a charging outlet, and let the car charge overnight. More hotels have them than you’d think, as it really only takes the voltage of a clothes dryer. It just needs to be an accessible outlet. Imagine staying at a hotel AND getting a free tank of gas– that would never happen, but with an electric car, it does! We’ve found some of our favorite hotels this way (like the posh but accessible Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara or the cozy Hillcrest Lodge in Big Bear) by searching forums and websites like Plugshare.com.
That’s the other thing: there are a lot of resources to help you map out and plan a road trip. There’s EVJourney that let’s you plug in your destination and plans the best route, or Plugshare, which let’s you know about charging stations in any city, including hotels.
So, the only drawback (if any) is that you must have a little bit of a plan in mind. You can’t just plan on hopping in your car, filling up along the way at whichever gas station you come across, and stopping at the first motel with a “Vacancy” sign. But the planning itself is so easy; we’ve booked a place on Air BnB the night before we wanted to leave, charged the car overnight, and took off to the desert just like that.
But. But! The best part is that you never pay for gas! A round trip from L.A. to San Francisco will always cost me at least a hundred if we took my Mini Cooper, and that’s an efficient little car. Driving to San Francisco in the Tesla means that we make a couple of stops for about 30 minutes each, but we pay nothing!
My hope is that as more people see how little life changes with an electric car, the cars become more mainstream. No matter what your political leanings, I think that we can all agree that becoming less oil-dependent is good for many reasons. If you have questions about life with an EV, let me know in the comments!