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eRoadtrip: Snowbird Drives an Electric Car to Florida

Category: Adventurous retirement

Editor’s note: Bill has been kind enough to write for Topretirements on other topics in the past, including the fascinating tale of his “Cleaning Out a Cluttered Victorian”. This installment shares his adventures and lessons learned from driving his new all electric car all the way from Portland, Maine, to Key West, Florida . We think you will find it instructive, particularly if you, like your Editor, are considering buying an electric vehicle!

By Bill Carito

January 15, 2023. This past August, we took a leap of faith in the future and bought an all-electric Volkswagen Id.4 to replace our 2018 VW Tiguan. Why an all-electric? Why not a hybrid? After all, we are a one car family that would not be using this car solely for running errands around town, but also for our 15-18,000 miles per year traveling to see family and for our vacations, including our three-month stay in Key West, Florida.

Frankly? Some of it was about supporting new technology; some of it was a sense of now or never. But, for me, a big incentive was losing the internal combustion engine and all its complications. I’m sure this new tech will have its issues, but I’m going to trust that fewer moving parts means fewer potential mechanical problems.

Trial run

In October we had made a 600-mile trip to Virginia as a trial run, which had prepared us with a few lessons. First lesson: we are no longer going to plan a trip that requires us to travel 600 miles in one day. We are retired, and we don’t have to do that anymore. Fortunately, our Key West trip would occur in chunks of 380-450 miles per day, with a final run of 180 miles down the length of the Keys on January 1.

Day 1, 1800 miles to gomore lessons learned
On December 28, we set out for Key West, a trip we’ve been making for ten years. Our five-day, four-night, 1800+ mile trip would put us in our Key West rental on January 1.

Bill fueling up

The second lesson was electric car trips require more planning with primary, secondary, and often, tertiary high-speed charging stations along the route identified in advance. I have accounts set up with four charging companies, and between their apps, the PlugShare app, and the occasional hotel with Level 2 charging stations (slower chargers for overnight charging), felt confident about our chances. We were hoping to go 160-180 miles per charge, leaving ourselves about a 20% battery charge as a cushion against unexpected events like heavy traffic.

Charging stations on route

Better safe than sorry!
Our planning really worked well on the first day of our trip from Portland to
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. We set out at 7 a.m. and first charged in Sturbridge, Massachusetts around 9:30 where there’s a Panera Bread to sit and get coffee while we waited the 45-60 minutes it usually takes to get a full charge. Then we charged a second time in Newburgh, New York while we ate lunch. This run of 140 miles was a little shorter than we preferred, but we couldn’t identify a high-speed charger between Newburgh and Wilkes-Barre that we felt comfortable reaching. Better safe than sorry; take power where it’s offered. We arrived around 5:30 at our hotel which had two Level 2 chargers which could charge us up overnight.

This is where we learned a third lesson, the reliability of the charging system. At other times, we’d had slow chargers, broken chargers, even charging stations we couldn’t find, but usually the support people could help us work through to get the charge we needed. For whatever reason, this hotel had chosen a charger station run by an independent operator rather than one of the larger companies. A phone call to tech support to deal with an initial charging problem went to an answering machine instead of a live person.

Fortunately, I was able to start charging when we retuned from dinner, but when
I woke up at 1:30 a.m., I looked at the app on my phone to discover charging had
stopped after a gain of only 10% in battery power. I dressed and got the charging
started again. After my battery power increased by another 20%, I thought I could
safely go back to sleep. Wrong. I awoke in the morning to find charging had stopped
again shortly thereafter.

Which charging network to use
We set out in the morning with only a 61% charged battery and had a decision
to make. At this point we decided to rely on the Electrify America network membership
that came with our Id.4. We chose to go to the nearest charging station in Bloomsburg,
PA. It wasn’t ideal because it was a little out of the way west, but still heading south.
After charges in Frederick, Maryland and Stafford, VA, we coasted into our hotel in
Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Here, we found a ChargePoint Level 2 station that
provided a 100% charge overnight.

Working with the Electrify America network proved to be reliable for the
remainder of our trip. We readily found most of the chargers we needed through their
app, although one we found by doing a map search, instead. Tech support said they
were adding chargers so fast that they were taking time to get them all into the app.
Another tech support person gave us a tip about signing in and out of the app before
attempting to charge to reset the app and get a real time update on the charging data.
Improved our connections after that with our further technical problems.

And we keep learning
Since we arrived, we learned about a map app, A Better Route Planner, which
we will try for the drive home in April. We are still considering extending the trip to
shorten our days; after all, we are retired and not on a tight schedule. In any event, with
planning, flexibility, and patience, long distance electric car rides are here today. It’s
only going to get better with the massive investments in charging stations and the
continuing improvements in battery technology.

Thanks Bill!

About Bill Carito: Bill is an avid Iphone photographer and retired political consultant. Check out his photos at, many of which have won awards.

Comments? Have you purchased an electric vehicle or are you considering one? Please share your experiences and/or concerns in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on January 14th, 2023


  1. Thanks for the input! Sounds like I won’t be getting an electric any time soon…don’t want to be that constrained.

    by Mick Langan — January 14, 2023

  2. I seriously considered the Kia EV6 last summer but the dealers where I live were adding at least a $10000 markup and I wasn’t going to go along with price gouging. I elected to forgo full electric for now and purchased a Lincoln Corsair plug-in hybrid. It gets me around town on pure electric and very good gas mileage on our frequent road trips. I’ll continue to monitor new EVs and wait for the prices to come down on the longer range models.

    by LS — January 15, 2023

  3. Thanks for the advice. I’ve had my EV for a little less than a year and have yet to do anything that requires mid-trip charging so I need all the pointers I can get since I plan to retire soon and hit the road!

    by Jennifer — January 18, 2023

  4. Kudos to Bill for taking on this environmentally friendly adventure! Our next (2nd) car is going to be all electric, because we drive less than 2,000 miles a year in it and almost all of that is local. Charging shouldn’t be an issue. We use our other car to drive to FL every year, and it is currently a gasoline only model. My thinking is we will replace it with a hybrid in the next few years. That way most of our local driving will be electric and when we go on a long trip, we can go long distances between gas fillups.

    by Chris — January 19, 2023

  5. EVs make great sense especially if you drive less than 200 miles per day

    by Ron — January 19, 2023

  6. A quick update on cost of travel.

    Just got in the last of the charges for our trip down. Less than $50.00. Total.

    This includes our savings from using the Electrify America. Network most of the way down. We get 30 minutes of free charging for three years for purchasing our Id.4.

    We also received free charging on the chargepoint network when charging overnight at the Hilton Garden Inn in Roanoke Rapids, VA.

    Editor’s comment: Thanks for the update Bill. Not much in fuel to go a long way!

    by Bill Carito — January 20, 2023

  7. …thanks for the input Bill….I am 70 years young…I will keep my rip-snorting 485 HP Dodge
    Challenger, thank you. Living in NY, with the very high electric rates (thank you LIPA), gasoline
    is cheaper for me…and much cheaper to insure than an electric car.

    by UncleAL — January 29, 2023

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