The freedom of the open road: heading for sunshine and clear skies, new horizons and the savouring of a coffee and croissant in a little side-street café, map outstretched on the table. Where will the day take us …?
Hey, let’s dream. After these last few months of lockdown, we’re all looking to escape. The kids are climbing the walls, parents are in need of a break from the horrors of combined home-schooling and WFH-ing. We all need a get-away! Maybe it’s just a seed of an idea right now, but something to plan and look forward to when restrictions are eased.
With the slowed-down pace of life this past year and our regular walks in the local wood sand countryside, as a family we’ve felt a greater appreciation of the natural world and our place in it. We’ve had time to notice the gradual change from winter to spring: the green shoots of crocuses pushing through the soil in the park, the birds scouting for the best nesting spot – all the things we might be too busy to take note of in our usual hectic routines. And when thoughts turn to holidays, we’d like to incorporate this new awareness: how can we all be mindful of our environmental impact while indulging our love of travel and exploring?
Perhaps making the switch to an electric vehicle is now a consideration. Producing zero = carbon emissions and using around half the energy of a petrol-powered car over its life span, it’s the obvious choice for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint. Renting one for a short break might be a good way to test the water. Or if you’ve already made the change, how about venturing further afield with it and taking it across the Channel for a road trip?
The thought of packing the family up, throwing everyone in the car and heading out for new adventures has an awful lot of appeal right now. It’s still unclear whether overseas travel will be possible this summer, of course, but it’s never too early to get some ideas together, and I always think half the fun of a trip is in the anticipation.
Flying abroad may be curtailed for a while (and in any case, it’s not exactly environmentally-friendly) but hitting the road in an electric car makes perfect sense for a European holiday – France, for example, has over 30,000 electric-vehicle charging points throughout the country which makes travelling easy. If you sign up with one of the European charging apps (such as Izivia, Plug Share, Chargemap, etc.) you’ll have info on the location of charging points, whether they are currently in use and how long charging will take, as well as the ability to make payment through the app.
For a hassle-free trip, it’s a good idea to plan your day around the location of charging points and aim to drive no more than around 100 miles a day (the average electric car has a range of 100-150 miles, although some higher-end models can run for up to 300 miles). A relaxed pace of travel will give you time to take in the sights – the Normandy beaches, an ancient chateau, the vineyards of Champagne, perhaps and to schedule charging sessions during mealtimes or an overnight stay. Many hotels in France now have charge points, as do numerous supermarkets, shopping centres, tourist attractions and motorway service stations.
Okay, time to dust off that old road map of France. Decisions: head west to Brittany, for rocky coves and quaint, medieval cobble-stone towns? Southwest, for wide Atlantic beaches and a few days of surfing and swimming (this gets the kids’ vote!) or a dash to Paris for a quick culture fix? A more extensive road trip is possible via the cross-channel ferry routes from Dover to Calais or Dunkirk in North-Eastern France, which offer easy access to Belgium, Germany, even Scandinavia (Norway, in fact, was voted best European country for an electric-vehicle holiday last year by carwow.co.uk).
With a quick and easy Tunnel or ferry crossing (Dover to Calais takes just an hour and a half, for example) you can be in France in no time, and the road is yours. French motorways are generally quiet (quieter still in an electric vehicle!) and relatively light in traffic compared with their English counterparts. It’s worth investing in a Liber-t tag if you intend to drive long distances on the motorways, as it allows you to avoid potential queues at the tolls.
Maybe, then, the next holiday is the perfect time to ‘go electric’. Hopefully, it won’t be long now before we can get back on the road, with a refreshed appreciation of our beautiful world, the freedom to explore new places and make memories. And linger over that coffee and croissant in an unfamiliar town, as a new day unfolds with all its possibilities.
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