Introducing our EV/RV Setup to the Florida Keys
Introducing our EV/RV Setup to the Florida Keys
Tips for visiting in an RV, and long-distance towing with an electric vehicle.
By: Becca & Brian Roy
While this story is no Farewell to Arms or The Old Man and the Sea, we did stop off at the Hemmingway House and I would like to think that we gained some inspiration for this article there. This was just one of the many stops that made our weeklong trip in the Keys that much more memorable.
From sipping drinks out of pineapples and coconuts on Duvall Street to visiting historical landmarks and beaches, swimming, or kayaking, there is always something to do here in the Florida Keys. Three days into our trip, while walking around the gardens at the Hemingway House, we had time to reflect on our journey thus far.
From booking the trip nearly a year in advance to carefully mapping out our route, it was well worth the little extra planning it takes to RV with an EV down to the southernmost end of Florida. We’re happy to share our tips and trip highlights here!
Booking Our Keys Campground
The Sugarloaf Key KOA is a highly desirable location in the Florida Keys as evidenced by the fact that we needed to book our spot so far in advance! While using Campendium to locate potential campsites in the Keys, we came across this southernmost KOA in the United States.
The waterfront location as well as its vicinity to Key West made it the perfect spot for our trip. Once we decided on this campground, we switched over to the KOA’s user-friendly app to complete our booking. At the time of booking, the campsite was closed and undergoing extensive reconstruction and renovation due to the destruction that befell it during hurricane Irma. Because of this, we couldn’t get an idea of what the campground - much less our site - would look like when we arrived. But it wasn’t much of a worry, given our positive experiences at previous KOA destinations.
We were especially excited to stay at a KOA since their recent announcement that they would be supporting and undergoing the installation of EV car charging stations, conveniently integrated into the existing power pedestals, at select locations beginning this year. With 525 current KOA locations in North America, this will make EVing with your RV that much easier!
En Route to the Florida Keys in our EV/RV Setup
With the camper fully packed for the trip and our route carefully planned, the final step was getting there. At just under 300 miles, this would be the furthest distance we’ve ever towed with our electric vehicle.
The majority of our trip was interstate travel which is the least efficient means of travel for an electric vehicle. Coupled with towing, we were looking at a significant power draw. By utilizing A Better Route Planner App and drawing on our previous experiences with towing, we were able to plan out an efficient route that gave us ample opportunities to charge and allowed us to bypass or reduce charging stops based on conditions.
A Better Route Planner allows us to enter in our estimated watt-hour per mile consumption which in turn will map out a route with recommended charging stations along the way. While our vehicle has the ability to do this built-in, it is based on normal driving conditions and doesn’t factor in the 2-3 times power draw that towing puts on the vehicle.
With our route planned, we were looking at a minimum of three stops prior to arriving at our destination. With two dogs and our diabetic cat in tow, we embarked on our adventure to the Florida Keys.
We hit the charging trifecta in that all stops required us to drop the trailer, unhitch, and back into our charging spot. While the Tesla charging network is the most comprehensive and convenient for traveling, the locations that can accommodate a vehicle with a trailer in tow are still few and far between. Because of this, we always utilize Google Maps not just to scope out the best entry into the lot where charging stations are located but also the most convenient place to leave our trailer, not just for us, but others as well.
At Our Sugarloaf Key KOA Campsite
Upon our arrival, check-in was a breeze and we were promptly escorted to our site by a KOA staff member. We backed up to our beach access, waterfront site, and quickly set up so we could start our vacation. After leveling off the camper then powering up and plugging in the car, we took a stroll around the campground with our puppies.
The exploratory walk gives our furry companions a chance to sniff to their hearts’ content while we check out the amenities and scan neighboring campsites for other Winnebagos.
For more leisurely activities, campers can soak in the pool and sip on a cocktail from the bar that is only a few steps away. What better way to dry off than a quick game of bocce ball or corn hole, both of which are incorporated into the pool area. For the more active camper, the KOA offers watersport rentals - including kayaks and even a pontoon boat.
Visiting Key West: Our Trip Highlights
The first morning into our trip was exactly what you’d expect in the Florida Keys. We awoke to a beautiful sunrise with the promise of perfect weather throughout the day. While sipping mimosas and enjoying smoked salmon topped bagels, we planned our first trip down to Key West.
Our first stop was the Hemingway House to take in a little history and pet as many six-toed felines as possible! With the cost of entry covering a guided tour, we learned about the history of the house as well as Hemingway himself, making this an incredible experience.
We made a quick pit stop at The Rum Bar on Duvall Street to enjoy some refreshments before moving on to our next stop. The second tourist attraction involved climbing 88 steps to the top of the Key West Lighthouse where we were able to enjoy a spectacular view all the way to the ocean. The museum on the lighthouse grounds took us through the history of the lighthouse and the challenging life of the original Keeper and her family, whose job it was to keep the lamps shining.
Our next stop took us back in time to learn about the backbone of the Keys economy before tourism. In the Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum, we perused various artifacts reclaimed from the numerous shipwrecks that occurred around Key West. Wreckers, as they were called, would race to shipwrecked vessels to save the unlucky sailors in exchange for their cargo. It was interesting to learn about this unusual but lucrative business which was the lifeblood of the Keys for hundreds of years.
We ended our evening by enjoying a dockside sunset dinner by Mallory Square.
While this is not a comprehensive list of all the activities we partook in while in the Keys, these were the most notable. We also enjoyed kayaking, seeing the famous Keys deer that will walk right up to you to say hello, a visit to the famous No Name Pub, numerous culinary delights, and the Keys nightlife.
Back to Reality
With our trip coming to a close, we packed up and mapped out our route back home. This saw us stopping at the same superchargers as we did on the way. Being familiar with the stops, we were able to make quick work of dropping the camper to charge.
This was one of our most memorable EV/RV trips to date - even bringing about a brush with ‘The Keys Disease,’ resulting in extending our trip for an additional day. The five nights we spent in the keys are sure to be the first of many.