Travel trends for 2019: road trips go electric
Classic road trips are evolving into something more fully charged. As countries and rental companies make the electric leap, choosing to reduce your carbon footprint with an EV has never been easier.
A car drives through a green forest © Dale Johnson / 500px
Electric vehicles are better for the environment you’re road-tripping to see © Dale Johnson / 500px
The EV revolution is coming
Electric vehicles (EVs) are a technology on the verge. However, the mass adoption of this eco-friendly option has faced a classic chicken-and-egg struggle: what comes first, EV owners or widespread public charging stations? Travellers who want to take one for a spin while on vacation face an additional barrier, as many rental-car companies have been slow to introduce EVs as an option.
A car drives along a straight road surrounded by trees in Australia © Fly Film / Getty Images
Australia is becoming increasingly equipped for electric road trips © Fly Film / Getty Images
There’s hope on the horizon, though. Many countries are rolling out ambitious plans to install charging stations, while car companies that produce EVs are adding infrastructure to support their uptake. Though EVs are often seen as more practical for urban exploration, the addition of chargers along rural routes has brought opportunities to get out on the open road. While in many countries an electric road trip is a distant dream, there are a number of EV-ready destinations that might surprise you.
Whether you’re trying to go green or want something new, an EV road trip is the perfect adventure for travellers who love a challenge. So, as the stars align for an electrically charged getaway, be part of a group of pioneers hitting the road without the drone of a gas-guzzling engine.
A car drives around a bend in an arid landscape © Paolo Trovo / Shutterstock
Plan ahead to avoid losing power on long journeys © Paolo Trovo / Shutterstock
Embrace your range anxiety
In the age of GPS and Google Maps, it’s becoming harder and harder to take a wrong turn. Sure, you’ll get to your destination faster, but you might miss out on the sort of adventure that comes from (accidentally) taking the road less travelled.
EV drivers often experience ‘range anxiety’: the fear of being too far away from a charging station. While that’s natural, even among the experienced, once you turn that anxiety into the fuel for your trip, the thrill of the charging chase can begin, even along a scenic detour.
Planning for an EV adventure is a challenge that comes with its own rewards. EV drivers look after their own and there are plenty of online resources, forums and apps mapping EV chargers around the world. When you get behind the wheel of an EV, you’re joining a community ready to explore the world in a new way, and they will help you do the same.
Road sign reading ‘electric vehicle parking only’ © Jeff Gynane / Alamy
EVs allow for unexpected pitstops © Jeff Gynane / Alamy
It’s not about the destination…
Not all EV chargers are created equally and you may find yourself stopped for a while – even hours – to recharge. Take a cue from your vehicle and rest up a while, perhaps in a place you never imagined. Public chargers have been rolled out differently by cities, countries and businesses. You could find yourself outside a college campus, at a spa along a stunning coastline, or in an out-of-the-way strip mall in a town you’ve never heard of.
EV road-tripping will force you to stop and smell the roses, so ignore anyone who tells you this is a downside. In reality, this presents the perfect opportunity to explore someplace you may never have stopped if a petrol station was handy. Your EV has made you a new kind of adventurer – embrace it.
Drive the Golden Route in Japan © Kanuman / Shutterstock
Drive the Golden Route in Japan, without adding to the fumes © Kanuman / Shutterstock
10 great places for electric road-tripping
West Coast Green Highway, North America: Cruise from British Columbia to California, waving to fellow EV drivers along the way.
National Tourist Route Hardangervidda, Norway: Journey from Bergen to see the waterfalls and mountains in Hardangervidda National Park.
Barbados: Leave no beach untouched while making the most of the island-wide charging system.
Madeira, Portugal: Exploring Madeira in an EV? Find one that can fit your hiking gear and a surfboard.
United Arab Emirates and Oman: Hit all seven emirates and stop in Muscat and Sohar without worrying about your charge.
Golden Route, Japan: Take this busy route past Mt Fuji from Tokyo to Kyoto without adding to the fumes.
North Coast 500, Scotland: Travel the Scottish Highlands – but you still can’t get behind the wheel after sampling from the local distilleries!
Queensland’s Electric Super Highway, Australia: Cruising from Cairns to Coolangatta has never been such a breeze.
Route 66, USA: Like Bob Dylan before it, this US classic has gone electric (but with more public blessing).
Black Forest, Germany: Drive into a fairy tale on one of the most environmentally friendly routes in Germany.