There's a lot of fun—and a little more planning—involved.
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My Hyundai Kona EV has spent most of its time in my driveway since I bought it, just a few months before the COVID lockdown. But this summer, I'm making up for lost time, and testing out my electric car for longer road trips. Two weeks ago, I traveled 232 miles for some much-needed beach time—and my first foray into longer road trips with an EV.

On the plus side—charging up was significantly cheaper than the $3-plus per gallon of gas for my traditional ICE (that's internal combustion engine) car—we're talking under $25 to power the whole trip. On the minus—at least at the moment, there's a little bit of a learning curve for using the electric cars for a longer road trip.

It just takes a little bit of additional planning to make the road smooth for your electric car. Here's what you need to know before you head out.

Sign up for a few of the charger networks

EV charger companies like Chargepoint, EVGo, and Electrify America offer speedy ways to pay for your charging, like tapping cards or using apps. It's easier if you're already signed up pre-trip so you can speed through your charging stops (though it's still pretty easy to use your credit card instead).

Know that your actual range may be smaller than what's advertised

My Kona is expected to clock in at in above the 200-mile range for a trip, but many factors can affect your range. Cold weather requires more energy to warm up the battery, sapping your range quickly. Blasting the air conditioning or heater also reduces range, as does driving with a lot of uphill climbs—or with a heavy foot. I'm typically a very fast driver, but watching my range tick away quickly encouraged me to slow my roll to a by-the-books 65 mph.

Know what type of charger your car takes

Just like the rest of your tech, different electric cars use different types of chargers for high-speed charging—and so you'll want to make sure that you choose fast-charging stations that offer your kind of plug. Most electric cars use either CHAdeMO or SAE Combined Charging System (Combo/CCS)—Tesla has its own proprietary version that can only be used for its cars, though Tesla owners can also use CHAdeMO chargers if they spring for a separate adapter.

It's much easier to map out charging pit stops in advance

As I quickly learned, opting to wing it meant that I ended up pulling off the highway, using my phone to search for a charger, and driving an additional 15 minutes to get there. The handy Chargeway app gives you a much better read on what's near you than other apps I tried—and lets you set your car type so it only shows chargers your electric car can use.

You can also use its trip planner tool to input temperature, current charge, and destination and it'll tell you how much additional charge you need to make it to your next destination.

Related: 5 Ways to Prep for a Long Road Trip

Choose the fastest chargers

Different chargers work at different rates—Level 1 chargers are like your home electrical wiring and will take many hours (or days!) to give you a full charge, while Level 2 chargers might work for you if you want to spend a few hours nearby checking out the sights (for instance, if you want to spend the day at a zoo, mall, or amusement park that has Level 2 chargers). For the quickest charge, you want a Level 3 or DC Fast charger, which can get you to an 80 percent charge in as little as an hour.

Find a good spot to stop for a bit

Even if you're using an ultrafast charger, you'll still have at least a half hour to kill. Fortunately, you'll find more and more of the chargers at places where you might want to spend a short amount of time. We had good luck at Royal Farms, a gas station chain that's getting in on the electric thing (and offers some good snacks for an impromptu picnic while we waited for the charge). I've also found them at Target, Wal-Mart, and other major stores—so you can easily kill the time picking up the sunscreen and other essentials you may have forgotten to pack.

Unfortunately, you can't count on highway rest stops—those zip-off, zip-on rest areas may have gas pumps, but the ones we tried along our route only offered Tesla Superchargers.

Remember that you don't necessarily need a full charge

I was only about 50 miles short of what I needed to get to my destination. We were able to quickly grab that with a shorter, 20-minute stop—just long enough to let our puppy stretch his legs, take a bathroom break, and pick up a few snacks.

Don't forget to pack your home charger

You may need it to plug in at your destination or in a real pinch—so it's best to make sure you have it waiting in your trunk.

Have a plan B

The infrastructure is still catching up with the demand—so you may find that there are places (especially off the beaten path) where chargers are few and far between, or you may find that the charger you planned to visit is out of order or in use.

It's a good idea to make sure there's an alternate spot where you can charge—and that you give yourself plenty of range to get to another charging destination if you need to.  

Consider where you're staying

Many hotels have started to offer free level 2 charging for their guests—a perk you may want to take advantage of for an even longer road trip, so you wake up in the morning with a fully charged car ready to face the road.