Originally published on EV Obsession.
When you set out on a road trip in an electric car, consider all the charging stations on the journey that you can find on PlugShare or via in-car navigation, but know there are more that are not yet charted. I have found there are often more options than on the navigation system.
Going to Miami, I ended up sleeping while charging on the way there and back due to time constraints. I did not seek out a hotel with a charger. I plan to next time (if there is one). Charging a Nissan LEAF during off-hours travel can have it benefits — it is dark enough and quiet enough to catch a nighttime catnap. But there are also challenges.
I am not sure of the etiquette of using a charger at another dealership — say, a Porsche, BMW, or Ford dealership — if one is driving in a Nissan. I do know that many such dealerships do have EV chargers. It is modern life. However, I don’t feel comfortable using such chargers off hours (assuming they aren’t gated off).
Once, when unable to use a Nissan dealership EV charger, a Ford dealership let me charge my LEAF (I asked politely, as I was not sure I could get where I needed to on the charge that I had). There was not a nearby Nissan dealership available for use. The Ford employees were very polite and helpful. Typically dealerships are close together, so if one is locked or turned off, perhaps another is on. But daytime use is different from off-hour use.
Some dealerships in my area lock at night, and some turn off the chargers at night. I try to choose the addresses of the ones on a particular route ahead of time for the most part. I compare them with the ChargePoint app. Recently, I picked destinations in Venice (a few), Englewood (a few), Ft Myers (plenty of chargers), and Naples (only 2 or 3 chargers there?).
The lack in Naples seemed quite odd. I wonder if Naples has them and they are simply not added on PlugShare. I may research this at a later time. However, the next long trip that I make, I want to do the LEAF part of the way and train or bus the rest of the way, and find out how that works. I love trains — and would rather travel by train unless I drive straight through again, sleeping while charging. Florida is planning a more expedient rail route between Orlando and Miami for travelers who prefer mass transit. I still long for better mass transit in Florida, since I greatly prefer pedestrian life with the Metro when that is an option.
On the road, for this first long LEAF trip, I did not think to call and see if there was another Hampton Inn along the longer route. The Hampton Inn is a relatively “green” hotel. One of the Hampton Inns in Sarasota has chargers, and another one is located right by a fast charger.
When traveling, it is wise to check out maps for an alternative route. That is, alternative ways for slower travel to save charge. At 4:00 in the morning, I found an open Nissan (twice). I love the light at this one. The other one was hidden and dark but worked well, and I fell asleep.
Though I love the LEAF, I am very interested in doing a part-LEAF and part-Amtrak trip as soon as possible, unless I can find a hotel with a charging station on the way to Miami. I do not want my love of trains to be left in the dust of the LEAF, but I look forward to checking out All Aboard Florida in Miami.
Images by Cynthia Shahan