Plug-in road trips across America
07.31.2018 - by Noah Barnes
Plug-in road trips across America

We all know that plug-in vehicles are great for daily commutes, but are EVs a viable option for those who want to hit the road and see America? We asked EV drivers to submit their road trip stories and were overwhelmed by the response! Below are just a few of the many amazing trips that Plug In America supporters have taken. Look for more stories to posted in the weeks ahead!

I have taken several trips between cities with my BMW i3 BEV. As there’s no onboard gasoline motor, I rely entirely on charging stations when on the road. My longest trip has been from Greenville, SC to Dayton, OH, a distance of about 500 miles. The trip went through South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio. My i3 has DC fast charge ability, so the first part of the trip was pretty smooth. I chose DC fast charge locations that were about 100 miles apart (I usually can go around 120 miles on a charge) and that worked well until Kentucky, which had almost no DC fast charge locations, so we had to stay overnight while using a JuiceBox plugged in at a campsite. We also charged L2 at dinner in Lexington, which allowed us the range to get to Cincinnati, with its multiple DC Fast charge locations (Walmart and AAA, for the most part). I love driving the i3, so I routinely scan for charging stations when I need to make a road trip. Sometimes it’s hit or miss, but so far, so good!

–Verb Washington

We drove from a northern suburb of Chicago to Louisville and Nashville over the 5-day July 4th weekend, with five adults in a Tesla Model X. Over the course of the trip we supercharged at Lafayette, IN, Indianapolis, Louisville (a Tesla destination charger at a wonderful B & B that we found on Tesla’s website) and Bowling Green, KY. In Nashville, we used a charger in the parking garage of the Airbnb building where we stayed. At all of the Supercharging stops we simply planned to have meals, snacks, or bathroom breaks. It takes a bit of planning, but it’s a small price to pay for free electricity and no pollution! At one of the stops, 6 or 7 of the 8 charging stalls were in use. It turned into a Tesla party! Everyone was showing everyone else their car, with the lone Model 3 getting most of the attention. All wanted to share their EV story. It was an easy trip, over 800 miles in total, completely free of range anxiety.

–David Ferri

Last summer, I wanted to be the youngest person (21 years old) to make a coast-to-coast road trip in an EV in the US, and I set out in my Model S. I started in Boston, MA, where I live, and went through Denver, then to San Francisco (toured the Fremont factory), then down the coast to Los Angeles, then to New Orleans, and back up to Boston. It was over 8,000 miles in total, and I spent $1.95 on windshield wiper fluid. All charging was free. It was incredibly easy, especially as my car drove itself 98% of the way!

–Taylor Ogan

At only 64 miles one way, our trip to the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton above San Jose, CA from our home is not a particularly long one. However, there is an altitude gain of 4,180 feet over a distance of only 18 miles to reckon with. That part of the drive alone takes about an hour. At the base of the mountain, we had 202 miles of power. The temperature was 86 degrees. When we got to the observatory, we had 141 miles left. Later that evening, the temperature had dropped to 69 degrees, and when we got down to the spot in San Jose where we had made the 202 reading we had 212 miles, a gain of 10 miles over what we started the ascent with. Because of the half moon, the outside viewing was not at its best but San Jose certainly sparkled. By the way, the car following us up the mountain was also a Bolt.


Our first EV road trip was in August 2014 with only Level 2 charging! Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park – 18.5 hours. We had planned to charge on the ChargePoint charger at the Hampton Inn in Bakersfield, but when we plugged in, it said 9 hours to charge. Ack!! On to Plan B: calling up the good Samaritan who had listed his home charger on PlugShare and charging for 5.5 hours in his garage. Lesson learned: Forget public chargers listed on PlugShare! Our next charging stop was Country Manor RV Park in Visalia, where, for $15, we plugged our own charger into one of their 14-50 outlets for 4 hours and watched a movie on my laptop. Our final charge stop was at the High Sierra RV Park in Oakhurst, where we charged from 12 midnight to 2:30am. We pulled into our camp at Yosemite at 4:00am with 20 miles left. We have a new appreciation for RV/ trailer parks now! All nice people.

Since then, I’ve added Level 3 CHAdeMO to my RAV 4 EV ( Now LA to SF is ONLY 11 hours 😉

–Steven Goldstein

5 comments on “Plug-in road trips across America”
  1. Donna Newman says:

    I’m still trying to work up the courage to drive my 2015 Leaf S (85 mi max range) from Raleigh, NC to Hilton Head, SC and back. There are few fast chargers convenient to our interstates (except those built for Teslas) and those that do exist aren’t close enough together for my range. Guess I’ll have to be up for some adventure and a two day road trip one way via both levels 2 and 3, maybe even level 1… I would prefer more range or more fast chargers closer together. Just saying that not everything is rosy about long-distance driving in an EV, and I hope that soon changes! Because otherwise, I love this little car and wish I could just GO!

  2. Augie says:

    We were driving west on I10 from the Flatonia TX supercharger to the Junction TX supercharger, a distance of 200 miles. Our Tesla Model 3 had 300 miles of range so we figured we could drive directly there instead of stopping in San Antonio. Even though the Tesla navigation was warning us that we would have to drive slower or stop in San Antonio to make it to Junction, I thought it was a software bug since clearly we had a extra 100 miles of range to spare. Lo and behold, with the temperatures falling to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit and a 5200 ft elevation climb, we barely made it to Junction by slowing down to 25 mph for the last 10 miles and had 2 miles to spare on the battery. Lesson to be learned – trust the computer!

  3. Frank Bliss says:

    Went 9000 miles last Nov 2017 It took 40 days. I went to 40 states. It cost $40 for recharging fees.

  4. Thomas Reichert says:

    Very good reads! Personally I have never and will never have range anxiety, as I drive a Chevrolet Volt. Almost 40 miles on electric then it switches to the gasoline engine automatically. Find a charging station, charge it… find a gas station, fill it up… and keep on going!

  5. Benjamin Schmid says:

    We wanted to take a longer trip in our 2017 Chevrolet Bolt over Memorial Day. We decided to visit Door County, WI, which is 305 miles from our home in Munster, IN. We stopped at Outpost Natural Foods in Milwaukee, WI for a level 3 charge which took only about a half hour. Next we stopped at the Door County Visitor Center for a level 2 charge, but one of the plugs was occupied and the other one was somehow distorted and wouldn’t connect. So I looked up a nice restaurant near Harbor that had a level 2 charger, we had dinner, and had more than enough charge to finish our trip to our hotel, which also had a Level 2 charger. (High Point Inn, Ephraim, WI) However, it had only one plug, and we had to share it with a Tesla later in the visit. (I also could have used a 120 volt outlet at the side of the hotel, but it would have entailed parking on the grass.) The trip was very enjoyable, and we were never suffering from severe range anxiety. Our efficiency during the whole trip was 5.5 miles per KWH!!! (hypermiling at 55 MPH.)

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