Do you see charging stops as an annoying waste of time? If you do, you haven’t yet realised how much potential there’s behind such an ordinary action! Because charging breaks are a great opportunity to play for time, to learn and do things you wouldn’t otherwise have time to squeeze into your busy everyday routine. So let’s try to complain less and do more, and we will soon be looking forward to the next charging stop.
Time has become a scarce commodity these days and it’s normal to hear people complain about how little time they have to themselves – not finding a moment for overdue phone calls is a classic! In a nutshell, we all seem to struggle to get things done. But is it true or are we just finding excuses? Or perhaps most people don’t even know how much time they’ve got on their hands and don’t know how to manage it? Let’s talk about it!
You can’t lose time, you can only waste it! However, following a few clever tricks and tips, you might even be able to make time for yourself! When topping up our e-car at the fast-charging station, we spend at least 15 minutes waiting around – which can be a lot more depending on how much juice your batteries can store. So what can we do with this extra time, especially on long journeys? Ok, it’s a bit like the dialogue between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in the “Two Popes” movie: “—Are you allowed to smoke while praying?—No.—Can you pray while smoking?—Yes, sure!” What do we learn from this? Everything is a question of perspective, and only when we see the (charging) time as an advantage can we start using it sensibly.
It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
In our opinion, most people tend to focus on the drawbacks of charging breaks instead of identifying the perks and new opportunities they offer. In a world trimmed for efficiency, everything must happen fast and true to the motto “You snooze, you lose.” We call bullshit! Isn’t it the journey that counts and the time we consciously take to complete our trip? Instead of racing along the motorway (or through life) as fast as possible with as few breaks as possible, you could take your time and enjoy the journey. We bet you never did, because driving from Stuttgart to Milan in 4 ½ hours has become soooooo fashionable! Wouldn’t it be nicer to take it easy, actively create memories and remember your travelling experiences in the future? And with them all the conversations you had and crazy things you did? In 7 years of conventional e-car charging, we’ve had quite a few exciting experiences, watching paragliders landing on the meadow behind the charging station, playing cards on a camping chair in the shade, taking a nap in the roof tent or even drinking beer, because by the time the battery was full we’d sobered up again… (yes, that was charging life before high power charging!)…
The faster we travel, the quicker time goes by”
There’s one important question you should be asking yourself: What would you do if you spared half an hour or so? For example, you could spend 10 minutes a day learning new words. Speaking of which, “waiting” is the first word that springs to mind in this context. In Spanish, it translates into “esperar”, which has also a second meaning: hoping for something! If that’s not a sign…
Welcome to the new world – charging e-cars done right!
In the early days of e-cars, everything was still new and exciting. On their first charging attempts, e-novices wouldn’t take their eyes off the charging screen, following the entire process with the utmost care and devotion. By buying an electric car, you’d automatically become a member of the exclusive “KWh Analysts Club”, with your endorphin levels increasing proportionally to the charging performance. Tempi passati – most of us can no longer bear the idea of swallowing yet the same-old spongy burger or watery fast-food coffee for the third time running, especially when embarking on long-distance journeys with several charging stops – and that’s exactly when charging boredom kicks in. But what can we do about it? Start-ups have long been working on different ideas to help us spend our time at the charging station in a more meaningful way. In Shanghai, for example, the monitors of the charging station are supposed to double as a karaoke screen! However, instead of waiting for fancy technologies to land on our shores, we should take fate into our own hands and use our time in a more meaningful way.
1. Charge your own batteries while charging your car
Take a break for yourself and not just for your car! Doing Yoga is the bee’s knees! It doesn’t have to be the eagle pose straight away, beginners can start with the tree or triangle pose. If you travel for business and are on your way to an important meeting, the warrior pose will help enhance your mental and physical energy. There are now more free yoga apps than yoga positions. And, if you feel like it, you can also try Qigong or stretching. Ommmmmmmm.
This brings us to meditation, which is the actual purpose of yoga. Admittedly, there’s a very thin line between meditation and sleep, especially for newbies. Whatever you want to call it, taking fifteen minutes for yourself can be a real challenge if you lead a stressful life. There’s nothing more difficult than concentrating on nothing and letting your thoughts run free. Here, too, there are countless mindfulness apps that will help you to get started. Alternatively, just let your mind wander without an app and drift away from the chaos at the car park and focus on your own breath – just enjoy the moment! Or simply sit on a bench in the shade of a tree and shut your eyes. A full-on power nap might take some practice but gives you a real energy boost!
2. Eat healthy, not fast – food matters
That’s what people used to do – and still it is a good way to get you through a hard day at work! An old-school snack or an impromptu picnic are the most obvious and effective alternatives for anyone who values good nutrition – it’s a fact!
Change of scenery. While ordering your tenth maxi-value fast food menu in one week at the service station, you’re glad no one keeps tabs on your junk food habits. But stuffing your face with burgers, fries and donuts doesn’t do your figure any favours, inevitably forcing you into painful diet marathons in the long run. To keep your cholesterol in check, just pack some fruit, vegetables and muesli on longer journeys. Charge-break pros can kick it up a notch by spicing up a charge stop with a few clever details.
Here are some tips:
- Parasol and sun lounger
- Picnic blanket for a nap or a folding table in the trunk of your car for an impromptu candlelight dinner with your better half. The trunk of the Tesla Model 3 has almost 650 L capacity, making the possibilities of a charging stop endless.
- Prepare a yummy meal and stick it in a tupper. This way you’ll have something to look forward to at your next charging stop.
- Games for your kids: a football, badminton rackets or jumping games are always a success!
3. Charge your electric car wherever you can!
Many charging stations have plenty of exciting things happening around them. When driving an e-car, charging stations are part of the deal, so you might as well look for a cool one before starting your journey and actively include it into your travel schedule. This way, charging stops become a highlight instead of a time of misery. Before choosing a charging station, check out the special features and services available in the immediate proximity of the station:
Here are some tips:
- Is there a swimming pond around the corner? A Brompton folding bike is the optimal solution for short distances. 😉
- Is it worth charging your car in a small town and taking a quick sightseeing tour?
- Is there a small amusement park with a minigolf course where you can kill time? We have one in Rutesheim! :))
- Do you prefer proper golf? Then pack your clubs and put a green mat into the trunk. Would you rather try something new? Give spikeball a go! It takes 4 players, is great fun and it’s an excellent way to make new friends.
- Is there a shopping mall with charging points nearby? Let’s go there – with fast charging times you won’t spend too much money shopping anyway!
4. Catching up on phone calls
No, we don’t mean business or feel-good calls but those conversations we procrastinate to the extreme because we don’t have the time or nerves. For example, you could have that long-overdue chat with your parents or grandma or simply call your doctor to make an appointment for your next screening or colonoscopy. No more excuses, now you have time to sort it all out! On top of that, you have the perfect excuse to end a call whenever you want, because “you have to unplug your car”, the perfect excuse when your boss or your loved ones are unstoppable chatterboxes!
5. Book, audio book, podcast
Yes, that’s right! People still print books on paper these days. And no, they aren’t poisonous. Reading a book is a great excuse to switch off your smartphone for a short while and immerse yourself in completely new or even forgotten worlds. Whether you pick up the “13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear” by Walter Moers, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “Little Prince” or a true classic of modern bike literature like our annual DOWNTOWN Print Edition, the important thing is that you just start reading. So, just put a book in your glove compartment and have fun! If you aren’t into printed media, audiobooks and podcasts are a great alternative too! However, while driving you won’t be able to focus on the narration (or the driving). When you stop to charge your car, on the other hand, you can focus on the audio and take in all the exciting new topics. This makes the charging stop like a drive-in cinema for your ears: sit down with a bag of… erm, not so healthy popcorn and listen to John Sinclair or the True Crime podcasts – and then hoover up the popcorn from in between the seats at the next charging stop (point 6).
6. Cleaning and tidying – this is your chance!
While the batteries are charging, you can use the time to tidy up the interior of your car. Throw away empty cans, sort out old receipts in the glove compartment, remove nasty souvenirs of your last family trip from the back seats and dig out long-lost treasures from under and in between the seats. Seasoned travel veterans use a microfibre cloth to clean up the dashboard and other hard surfaces. Now you can take a nap with a clear conscience on your next charging stop. However, your car isn’t the only thing that needs a good clean: if you can’t keep your hands off your smartphone, at least try to do something useful with it. For once, stay away from TikTok and IG and clean up your junk mail or delete the less flattering pictures and thousands of screenshots you’ve taken over the past few months. Once the batteries are full, both your car and mobile phone will run better and for longer!
7. Open your musical horizon
We’re all creatures of habit, which means that most of us don’t like to move outside their comfort zone – and that’s also true of our musical taste. Some of us go crazy for metal or hard rock, others lose themselves in classical music, and in between there’s an infinite galaxy of genres and artists. Our advice: Use the charging time to explore new musical dimensions. Ask your friends for an exciting playlist or for their top ten favourites before hitting the road. And if you don’t have any ideas or friends with musical knowledge, check out this Spotify playlist.
8. Learning while charging: time for new hobbies
Don’t think twice and start doing new stuff. Whether you want to further your education, learn new skills to impress your mates or simply recharge your own battery, here are 3 suggestions:
Stargazing for night owls
Move your charging stop to the evening. Some providers prefer to locate their charging stations in green areas outside town rather than in a busy city. Not only is nature more appealing than the concrete jungle but also has far less light pollution at night, offering the ideal conditions for an exciting star gazing session if you happen to carry a telescope in your boot! Did you know that it rains diamonds on Venus? Venus, like four other planets in our solar system, is visible to the naked eye even without a telescope. Apps like Night Sky will help you navigate the cosmos. Once you memorise the constellations, you’ll be able to do this even without a compass – Scout’s honour!
Juggling, really? Did we run out of ideas? No, we’re serious! Juggling is one of those skills that are easy to learn but hard to master. On average, it only takes 15 minutes of focused practice per day to learn juggling three balls. Ok, it might take a tad longer with three burning chainsaws and a kerosene-soaked lumberjack shirt. Our record is currently four balls and a can of beer at the same time. If yoga sounds boring, juggling might be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s great fun, an excellent way to improve your balance and hand-eye coordination, and at the same time keeps you fit, both in your body and mind. Oh, and it certainly keeps your fellow charging station users entertained!
Singing and making music without witnesse
Some hobbies are better not shared. Do you live in a flat with paper-thin walls or prefer not to practice Pavarotti’s rendition of “Nessun Dorma” in front of your flatmates? At a deserted charging station, you’ll be able to enjoy a few minutes of blissful solitude and practice your routine. However, with the occasional charging stop alone, it might take you a few decades to become an opera singer according to the 10,000-hour rule. That being said, if you teach yourself singing 3 times per week, you should start seeing results after just a few weeks – and the same applies to musical instruments. Top tip: With an adapter and the right app, you can use your smartphone as an electric guitar amplifier and play the sound through the car’s sound system. Now you’re just missing an app that synchronises the guitar sound with your car lights. Clear the stage and rock the (car) park!
9. Meet new people
That’s easy at the fast-charging station. Either you attract people’s attention by practising your new hobby or take the initiative yourself. Proud of their own vehicle, fellow e-drivers will be happy to engage in conversations about range, charging tactics and long-distance journeys. Just try it out, meeting new people has never been this easy – not even with Tinder!
10. Mountain biking with or without “e-” (obviously)
While at DOWNTOWN we prefer to focus on urban mobility, that doesn’t mean that we don’t like to have fun on two wheels. Our DOWNTOWN editorial team is actively involved in creating content for our sister magazines ENDURO, GRAN FONDO and E-MOUNTAINBIKE, regularly jetting around the globe to test the latest road and (e-)mountain bike models. Check out the relevant pages to find out more about the trails near your charging station of choice. Even during a short 15/30-minute charging stop, you should be able to squeeze in one or two descents, depending on the length of the trail – and even more with an eMTB. So what are you waiting for, pack up your bike and go! Or perhaps you’re on your way to your holiday destination and already have a bike rack on your car? Then a charging stop is more than welcome. Speaking of which: did you know that you can also charge your ebike with the KIA EV6, which we have already reviewed for you? But be careful, eMTBing is highly addictive and after a few rides you might start using the charging station out of town as an excuse for a quick post-work ride, deliberately ignoring the charging station around the corner from your very own house 😉
A waste of time or a chance to make time for yourself? It’s all about perspective! It’s up to you to decide whether you want to get upset about the waiting times or do something constructive with it. When you decided to buy an e-car, you already knew that the waiting time was part of the deal. So try to use it constructively, make it your very special me time, and forced stops on long car journeys will no longer be a problem but rather a welcome break to look forward to. Your car is charging and you can take some time out for yourself. We’ll be charging again, darling!
Words: Susanne Feddersen, Rudolf Fischer Photos: Mike Hunger, Peter Walker, Robin Schmitt