Travelling with an electric car in Europe: expert tips for planning your trip

As the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) rises steadily, so does the trend of travelling in an electric car. It is the choice of both environmentally conscious travellers as well as those who appreciate the blend of performance, comfort, and economic benefits that an electric car offers.

When you're ready to enjoy Europe's natural beauty and cultural diversity behind the wheel of an EV, you’ll need to start by researching your preferred route and the charging infrastructure available on the way.

What else needs to be considered for a successful electric car journey? We asked Matīss Zemītis, Head of Electric Mobility in the Baltics at Moller Baltic Import. Matīss uses an electric car daily and has also travelled with an EV on a family trip to Italy and other European destinations.

In this article, we'll share tips for planning a trip with an EV – from how and where to charge your car more efficiently to practical tips Matīss has discovered on his travels. Finally, we'll recommend European destinations that are safe to visit by electric vehicle (and which are best avoided).

1. Know your car and its battery capacity

Before planning your trip, it's essential to find out how many kilometers your EV can cover on a full charge. The bigger the car battery, the further you can go without charging the car. Therefore, battery capacity can even become a determining factor when choosing your route and destination.

It’s also useful to try out different charging payment options, such as the car manufacturer's charging service that’s integrated into the car app, allowing you to find charging points and pay for the charge. Most car manufacturers have contracts with major network operators – make sure you know all your options before you embark on a long journey.

When choosing a charging station, you'll notice that they are classified by maximum charging power in kilowatts (kW) and three types of chargers: slow (AC), fast, and superfast (DC). Fast chargers are the most common public chargers and can get your car’s battery from 10% to 80% in about an hour. Find out more about the different charging options for EVs in this video.

Go on a test drive to a distant city or neighbouring country before going abroad.

This way, you can get to know your car better and learn how long it charges, how consumption changes outside the city, how comfortable you feel on longer journeys, etc.

Practical tips for efficient EV battery charging and maintenance:

  • You don't always need to charge your car 100% - it's better to top up a little when you have the chance rather than leaving charging for later.
  • It's best to charge during your stops on the journey when the car battery is warm (don't leave charging until the morning).
  • Consumption is lower in the city when the car battery is also charged by braking (recuperation).
  • The faster you drive, the higher the consumption; on high-speed roads, frequent overtaking maneuvers are not recommended for the sake of energy saving (and safety).

2. First make plans, then find charging stations (because they’re everywhere)

The availability of public charging points for EVs in Europe has grown significantly in recent years, now reaching more than 600,000 public charging points united in a shared European roaming network. The number of public charging points is expected to reach around 1.3 million by 2025 and 2.9 million by 2030.

Matītis Zemītis' experience also busts a common myth that it’s difficult to find charging points for electric cars. He says: "There are virtually no charging problems for EVs in Europe anymore. Charging facilities are everywhere, so you don't have to adjust your plans to their availability. You can make plans based on your interests and travel preferences and find charging facilities along the way."

Matīss continues: "If your EV can cover at least 400 km in the summer, that's enough because you and your family will need rest and bathroom stops anyway. When you stop for a coffee, lunch, or a walk at a sightseeing attraction, you can use a fast or super-fast charging station and charge the battery in half an hour. Super-power chargers, such as 350 kW chargers, are becoming more common on the road, allowing you to charge quickly. You can make such stops even when the battery is not yet that low, making the charging stops work around your convenience and schedule."

Follow the information on the charger or mobile app.

For example, in most stations, you’ll be asked to pay for the electricity used, while some may count the time spent charging.

3. Rely on the car's navigation

Many of us are accustomed to using Waze or Google Maps navigation apps for our daily journeys. But EVs are also equipped with innovative online navigation systems that are useful for planning your journey, as they include information on the location and availability of charging stations.

The in-car system recognizes locations with suitable chargers and can select those that match the payment options from your car’s manufacturer.
The map shows all charging points, which can be filtered by station type and charging speed.

All charging points also offer payment through the charging provider app, which is often cheaper but more complicated, especially abroad.

Use charging stations in city parking spots.

Set your car on a slow charge and stroll around the city while it powers up. Parking is usually free during the charging period; only some places charge extra for parking.

To try route planning in practice, you can put any European city as your destination and calculate the journey time, including any charging stops recommended by the satnav. The car system is connected to Google Maps, so it also gets real-time information about traffic jams or road repairs.

Matīss recommends making the most of your car's navigation. "The car knows its battery level and shows you the distance to the next charging station. The charging point map also shows how many plugs are available, how many are free at any given time, and how fast they charge. When connected to a charger, the system will show exactly how long it will take to charge the car to the selected battery level."

4. Choose accommodation with charging points

When planning your trip and booking accommodation, check if your chosen stay provides electric vehicle (EV) charging options. This feature is increasingly more common in Western Europe and is sometimes bundled into the accommodation cost.

Note that the charging stations available at accommodations usually offer slow charging, but you can charge your car overnight up to a sufficient level to continue your journey.

If your hotel or guesthouse doesn't have a charging point, plan a charging stop in the evening before you go to your accommodation. Matīss recommends combining charging with a visit to the shops or an evening stroll at a tourist attraction.

Leave the charging level for at least 30 km.
There may be a queue or a technical problem at the charging station you’re going to. It’s wise to have some extra charge in case you need to go to another station.

5. Plan more frequent and longer charging stops in winter

According to the laws of physics, the car's battery discharges faster in winter due to heating, higher resistance on rough roads, and precipitation. Charging the battery in cold temperatures can also take a little longer.

Although these differences won't be significant, consider them if you plan to travel to colder destinations. When travelling in freezing weather, make sure you plan more frequent or longer stops to charge your car.

Matīss also points out the benefits of driving an EV in winter: "In Norway's northern region, Finnmark, electric cars are a popular choice due to their reliability in cold weather. Unlike traditional combustion engines, particularly diesel, there's no concern about struggling to start the car in freezing temperatures. Moreover, the convenience of remotely activating the heating system while still at home adds an extra layer of comfort. Waking up to a warm car with defrosted windows is a delightful perk of driving electric in the chilly mornings."

Use roadside assistance.
If you find yourself stranded on the road with a dead car battery, you may be able to use roadside assistance, which includes a free tow to a charging point. This service may be included from your car manufacturer or in your electric car CASCO insurance policy – know your options before you set off!

Travel with peace of mind with your electric car also in cold temperatures. In case of trouble, I casco for electric cars is there to help you.

Benefits of travelling by electric car:

For those already driving electric cars, the daily advantages of this mode of transportation are likely well-known. Matīss Zemītis and his family cherish the following perks during their electric car travels.

  • The cost of travelling by electric car is likely to be lower than that of an internal combustion engine car.
  • You can drive safely in low-emission zones, which include the old towns and famous tourist attractions of many European cities.
  • An electric car is family-friendly as it will be quieter and more pleasant to drive, reducing the risk of nausea in young children. Children can also plug the electric car into the charger themselves (under parental supervision) – it's safe, and hands won’t smell of fuel.
  • Electric cars give you great power, more comfort, and peace of mind that your journey is not polluting the environment.
Even in mountainous terrain, you can travel by electric car without worry. For peace of mind it's still good to have electric car insurance from If.
Matiss and his family at the Transfagarasan Mountain Serpentine Pass, Romania

Where to go on an electric car trip?

The short answer is – you go anywhere you want! But if you've got your eye on a less popular destination, it's worth checking whether it has enough EV charging facilities.

For example, Matīss warns that the charging infrastructure in the Balkans is still in its early stages. That said, EV charging infrastructure develops very fast, so the situation could change in a few years. In contrast, Bulgaria and Romania have witnessed substantial growth in charging stations in recent years, making it already feasible and secure to travel there with an electric car.

Even in mountainous terrain, you can travel without worry - the battery is charged when going downhill and braking, and you don’t need to worry about overheating the brakes.

In Western and Central Europe, charging an EV is no longer a problem. Many of the charging stations there offer superfast charging, and there are charging facilities in almost all accommodations. Note that the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Austria have the most publicly accessible charging points, but the number is growing every year in other European countries too. France and Germany, for example, are installing hundreds of new charging stations per month.

Of course, every journey can take unwanted turns, so it's wise to get If casco for electric car for greater peace of mind. For example, we'll reimburse up to €2,000 if your electric car charging cable is stolen or damaged or if you've caused damage to a public charging station.

Here’s to greener and more enjoyable trips!

If you own (or plan to own) an EV and you enjoy travelling, you should definitely try an electric car road trip. Start with smaller trips around your country or the region and continue exploring all of Europe behind the wheel of an electric car!
Power, silence, and comfort will be your travel buddies, along with the awareness that your holiday is friendlier to the environment and your wallet.

Happy travels!

Casco for electric car

To make electric car rides more peaceful, you will benefit from casco insurance, which offers a variety of electric car protection.

And if something unexpected happens, we will be there for you.

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