Vera has been driving a Hyundai Kona since 2020, and this summer, she and her family set out on their first long journey in an electric vehicle (EV): a battery-powered road trip through Europe! And what a journey it was – from the Netherlands, they drove through Germany and Austria to Italy before making their way back via Switzerland. Here, she shares her experience and advice!

Taking it step by step
I’ve had my EV for two years now, but this was the first time we’ve driven it this far, so I was a little nervous. But we had a plan: to split the trip into sections of roughly 300–500 kilometres per day. Not only did that mean we didn’t need to worry about range, but it also allowed us to see more along the route. Plus, our young children were much happier to spend less time in the car!

Five countries (and 2,500 km) later …
Starting in our hometown of Lelystad, the Netherlands, we headed for Germany. Our first stop was in Frankfurt, where we stayed for a night before heading on to Chiemsee, a lake close to the Austrian border. After three days there, we drove through Austria and the north of Italy, stopping in Tarvisio for one night. Finally, we headed on to Cavallino-Treporti for a week of camping and relaxing.
To keep things interesting, we took a different route on the way back! Our first stop was in Lake Como, where we stayed for three days. From there we drove back through Germany via Switzerland. This was the only part of the trip where there were big traffic jams. In Germany, we stayed one night in Offenburg and two nights in Cologne before arriving home.

Map of the trip

The power of planning ahead
It’s always nice to have a change of scene, so when planning the route, we tried to alternate our stops between urban and rural locations: city, lake, city, lake etc. We used an app called A Better Route Planner (ABRP) to map out the entire journey. You can input multiple destinations, your starting battery charge and the amount of charge you want to have when you arrive at your destination. Then the app does the hard work for you, mapping out all the charging stops you’ll need and informing you how long you’ll have to stop for each time.

Using ABRP on our phones to find the location of the chargers was tricky, and it wasn’t until later that we discovered we could link the app to our car’s navigation. That made things much easier! 

Whenever we stopped in a town, we found it simplest to use Chargemap to find charging locations. This app was very accurate, and there were no problems with broken chargers or long waiting times. In fact, along the highways, we only had to wait twice for a charger: once in Austria and once in Switzerland.

Remote insights for charging peace of mind
Bluelink is a Hyundai app that connects your car with your phone. When we left the vehicle to charge, I used the app to check remotely what percentage it was at. During the trip, there was only one occasion when our EV wasn’t charging properly – luckily, I checked the app while we were enjoying a long lunch and noticed the car wasn’t charging any more. It turned out there was a fault with the charging pole, but we were easily able to re-start the charging session and all went well second time around. Without the app, we would have come back to an almost-empty battery, so being able to keep an eye on charging from a distance eased any concerns.

An (almost) universal charging pass
I’d heard from colleagues and friends with EVs that I’d need a couple of charging passes for the holiday, but I found that my Travelcard, the charging pass LeasePlan drivers in the Netherlands use, was accepted almost everywhere! There was only one charging station (off the highway in Italy) where Travelcard wasn’t accepted, so we used a Shell Recharge pass there.

The charging landscape across five countries
Thanks to our strategy of splitting up our drive into shorter sections, there was never really a point when we were worried about range or struggling to find a charger. For charging, we took a plug for a household socket but didn’t end up needing it: most charging sessions were at fast chargers on highways.

The charging infrastructure in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland is good, and it was easy to find chargers on the highways. In Germany, for instance, road signs would indicate if upcoming fuel stations had charging points, and in Switzerland almost all highway rest stops and fuel stations we found had EV charging stations.

It was harder to find charging stations in Italy, but not impossible. Lake Como was one of the trickier places, because there were no fast chargers close by. We ended up having to charge our EV at a supermarket, which was fairly inconvenient to get to. That said, combining the charging with some grocery shopping made the trip worth it, and while it was a slow charger, it was free!

When we left Lake Como, we had a battery level of about 35% and our route planner was telling us to find a charger almost immediately after leaving. I’d still certainly recommend Lake Como as a destination – it’s just good to keep in mind the lack of charging infrastructure if you’re travelling there with an EV …

We encountered a few more unusual charging stations, too, including one fast charger in Germany in the middle of nowhere, next to a garage and with no other amenities around. Luckily it was a fast charger, so we didn’t need to stay for long! In Italy we also found some Ionity charging stations that were very well hidden behind shops and not at all visible unless you knew where to go. It’s always good to check on Google Maps what amenities there are at a particular charging station, especially if you’re planning to charge for a long time. 

Lake Como view

No difference needed to driving behaviours
With the route planned out and a lot of chargers waiting for us along the way, we didn’t need to change our driving style to fit the EV. Safety is always a top priority for us when driving, especially with small children in the car. We made sure we kept to the speed limit, and on Germany’s autobahns we drove at a maximum of 130 kmh.

There are some tricks to help optimise range, like turning the air-conditioning off – but this summer it was too hot to even consider that! Luckily, our planning meant we were never in a situation where we wanted to extend the range; we always had plenty of charge.

Our biggest lessons...

  • Staying for just one night in towns wasn’t always the most convenient approach, especially with children.
  • Battery level can go down to a minimum of 15% for the purposes of the ABRP app. During our trip, we tried to keep it at 20% minimum, and that was more than fine for mapping out charging (except perhaps in Italy, depending on your plans).
  • Connecting ABRP with the in-car navigation from the start would certainly have made things easier!

… and our top tips!

  • Check smaller towns before arriving to see how the charging infrastructure is. It might be better to use a fast charger on the highway before you get there.
  • Ask at your accommodation where you can find chargers. In some smaller towns, chargers were tucked away and harder to find.


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