Trip Planner: Complete guide to planning your first trip

Are you planning to take a long roadtrip in your electric vehicle? Maybe you have a recurring drive whose route falls just outside the range of your vehicle? PlugShare can help! So long as you have an active PlugShare account with your electric vehicle saved to your profile, our free Trip Planner tool is a favorite resource in our community for longer drives that require a charge along the way.

This article serves as a best-practice resource for planning a new trip. We recommend creating and editing your trip on a computer desktop browser, and then accessing the saved trip on your mobile device when it's time to get moving. 

Skip to quick links for alternate Trip Planner resources

When planning a new trip, you can expect to follow the below steps. Within the section for each step, we've included some commonly asked questions (and quick links to the next step!) as well as links that will take you to any related PlugShare resources. This robust resource will guide you on your way to planning a successful trip, so feel free to click any step for our tips to get moving!

  1. Create your trip
  2. Select your preferred route
  3. Confirm your vehicle's ideal range
  4. Select charging location stops
  5. Save your trip
  6. Get directions and get moving!

The PlugShare Trip Planner is our favorite example of what happens when our community sends us candid feedback on their needs as electric vehicle drivers. It didn't take long for our team to get to work after only a few questions and suggestions on how to navigate longer trips using our platform. We continue to develop this feature as we know its significance, so please don't hesitate to send us any thoughts, questions, or suggestions!

Click here to submit a request to the team!

 

Important Note:

You can always access and get directions for any saved trips in your PlugShare account. Please know that to create and edit trips in the Trip Planner tool, you must be on the web (plugshare.com) with a minimum of 1200px wide screen or on the PlugShare app for iOS (Apple) devices.

 

 

Alternate Trip Planner Resources:

 

1. Create your trip and confirm details

  1. Click the three lines (hamburger menu) on the top left to open the main menu and select "Trip Planner"
  2. Below Trip Planner and above any saved trips, click "Plan a New Trip" to open the Trip Planner window on the right of your screen
  3. On the "Trip Planner" panel, provide the start and destination addresses for your trip
  4. Click "Search" if a route hasn't yet populated for you
  5. Confirm your preferred route

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Can I use my current location instead of an address?

If you have enabled geolocation settings for PlugShare on your browser, you can type "My Location" to set a stop to your current location. For more information on enabling geolocation on your browser:

What if I don't know the exact destination address yet?

If you're not sure on exact addresses but want to start mapping your trip, you can enter city names for general guidance to the city center recognized by Google maps. You'll be able to edit the destination later from a desktop browser. If you only have access to an iOS (Apple) device and need to navigate to a different destination address nearby, you can create a new trip with the correct addresses or check our our tips on editing a route: Trip Planner: Edit your route

I can't enter my start/destination address, what's going on?

If you are having trouble providing a start/destination address that is not a charging station, you may need to check your browser's search engine settings. PlugShare's search function is powered by Google, so be sure google.com is added as a search engine for your browser. Here are some resources for completing this:

 

2. Confirm your route preferences

Once you've confirmed the key details about your journey, PlugShare will generate a route based on the most efficient option with plenty of charging locations along the way. You can also scroll to find route preference options similar to what Google Maps offers: Avoid Tolls, Highways, and Ferries. Checking any of these options will automatically update your route with the restrictions applied.

Next, you'll want to confirm your vehicle's ideal range.

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What if I don't want to use one of the provided route options?

The route options that we provide you are based on the shortest and fastest options with plenty of charging locations along the way. We know that our users sometimes intend to take a less linear route! If you know you want to take a different route for your trip, you should select the option that most closely matches your travel plans. You can later add stops to your PlugShare trip along your preferred route to help you navigate where you want to be.

You can find more details on detouring from your Trip Planner route here: Trip Planner: Edit your route

 

3. Confirm your vehicle's ideal range

The number of stops on your journey completely depends on your vehicle's range. The Range Estimate tool allows you to review your vehicle's range and helps you identify manageable stops for your trip. To view your vehicle's range for your trip:

  1. Within the "Trip Planner" panel, scroll to the "Options" section
  2. Ensure that "Show Range Estimate" is checked in blue
  3. See the suggested estimated max range
    • Click the unit itself to switch between metric or imperial units of measurement
  4. Review the PlugShare map to see the range reflected in the Range Radius
  5. Choose a location that works for your trip

You can use the slider below your range estimate to narrow or expand the vehicle range for your trip. Click the blue Refresh button to set the range back to PlugShare's suggestion.

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How can I confirm I'm choosing locations within my vehicle's range?

The green Range Radius circle on the PlugShare map is intended to help you select locations which easily fall into your vehicle's range.

Sometimes, especially on longer trips, it can be difficult to verify that your choices will work. To help you double-check that all of the stops along your trip fall within range, you can look to the list view of your trip under on the "Trip Planner" panel. Between each location, you'll see the distance between those stops. If the distance appears in red, then your next stop is outside your set max range. If all the distances appear in green, then the stops along your journey are confirmed within your max range.

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Why is the estimated max range lower than my vehicle's max range?

The Range Estimate will automatically set a range based on the primary vehicle tied to your PlugShare account. Our suggested range estimate will always reflect about 85-90% of that vehicle's max range. You should always have some percentage of charge to protect your battery and account for unexpected battery use. Note that the Range Estimate does not account for pathing, elevation, road or weather conditions you may encounter.

 

If you have multiple vehicles added to your PlugShare account, you'll want to ensure the vehicle you're using on your trip is set as the primary before you start planning your trip. Here's more detail if you need to Switch between vehicles in your PlugShare account.

 

 

4. Select charging locations along your route

By default, the Trip Planner tool will only show you locations along your route on the PlugShare map. It will also filter for plugs which work for your vehicle, and you'll be encouraged to choose charging locations that fall within your vehicle's range by the Range Radius. For more filtering options and tools, check out our article Advanced features for Trip Planner on the web.

To add a location to your trip:

  1. From your trip, select a location from the PlugShare map within the Range Radius
  2. Click "Add to Trip" in green, either from:
    • The location's popover summary
    • The location's full Station Details panel, where the "Check in" button is normally located
  3. The stop will appear in your Trip Planner panel
    • If the location moves you closer to your destination, the Range Radius will move there
  4. Check the Trip Planner panel to see if all of your stops are within the max range; if any distances appear in red, you'll need to add another stop or adjust your planned stops as needed
  5. Don't forget to save your trip!

Important: Your filters still apply! You may open up your filter settings and update them to refresh the map markers as per usual.  

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How do I know which locations to choose?

You should keep your vehicle's range top of mind when choosing charging locations. Remember, you should always plan to leave at least 10-15% of your vehicle's battery charged when you arrive. This will leave you a safe amount of charge in case there are unexpected conditions, like traffic, along your route. 

With the "Show Along Route Only" tool, you can control how far off of the planned route you're willing to travel for a charging location. Alongside the Estimated Range and Range Radius tools, our users are generally able to select locations that work well for their trip! Here's a quick link to our section above with more about Trip Planner's range features.

 

What if the closest location is outside my vehicle's range?

In areas with fewer charging options, you may need to adjust your options, filters, or sometimes your route to ensure you will make it safely to your destination. Here are some tips from our support team that should help you plan your trip successfully:

  • First, check your filters! Your normal filter settings apply to the Trip Planner tool - so take a look at your general filters to ensure you're only narrowing locations to the plug type of your vehicle. Filters like minimum power or PlugScores can limit the locations shown in areas with fewer charging options. You may also be able to find Home Chargers from the PlugShare community. 
  • Expand the search radius along your route. By default, the "Show Along Route Only" will show you locations up to 2 miles off your planned route; by expanding this option, you can often find locations just a little bit further away
  • Try unchecking "Show Along Route Only" - this will show you ALL options in the area you're looking. If you choose a location which strongly veers away from the original route you chose, the Trip Planner tool will reroute the remainder of your trip to get you back on track with minimal disruptions.

Can I add locations to the route which are not charging locations?

Absolutely! Any non-charging locations will appear on the Trip Planner tool in purple. If you do plan to add locations to the trip which are not charging locations, we recommend:

  • Add non-charging stops to your route BEFORE adding charging locations. 
  • Use the "Add stop" button within the list view of the trip to search for a specific location or address. This will ensure the stop is added at the correct point in your trip as well as prevent you from searching the map too much!

 

 

5. Save your trip

So long as you've added a start and destination, you can save your trip at any time during your trip planning process. Below the list view of your trip within the "Trip Planner" panel, click "Save" and give your trip a name you will remember. Once the trip has been saved, you can access it from your PlugShare account on any device. This means you can get directions from anywhere and get moving!

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