Smart Money

Driving South for Summer Fun: Fuel and Charging Costs per State

Southern Road Trips
Published on May 24, 2023

Embarking on a journey to the south, where sun-drenched landscapes and boundless adventures await, is an irresistible call to summer fun. As the days grow longer and the warmth seeps into every corner of the horizon, the open road becomes an invitation to explore vibrant coastal towns, indulge in thrilling outdoor activities, and bask in the beauty of nature's marvels. Whether you're planning to make the trip in a traditional gas-powered vehicle or explore in an electric vehicle (EV), it's important to consider the costs associated with driving for your summer travel. So, buckle up and join us as we compare energy costs per state to help you prepare for your southern summer driving escapades.


Fueling Up: Average Gas Prices

Ah, the classic hum of an engine and the smell of gasoline. For those sticking with a traditional gas-powered vehicle, you’ll be glad to know average fuel prices are lower by 80 cents/gallon this summer than they were in 2022. While last year’s average cost for regular-grade gasoline was $4.30, the summer average for 2023 is forecasted to come in at $3.50. Additionally, gas prices across the South are lower than those in the rest of the country. 

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the average gas prices you can expect from our favorite southern states according to AAA:

South Carolina $3.17

Tennessee $3.19

Georgia $3.26

North Carolina $3.28

Florida $3.38


Planning Pitstops

The price of gas varies depending on your location and the route you take. Before setting off, it's a good idea to research specific gas prices along your intended route and plan your pitstops accordingly. Also, there are severals apps that can help you find the cheapest gas stations nearby, creating savings that accumulate over the course of your travels.

Different vehicles have varying fuel efficiencies, so it's essential to know how many miles you can expect to cover on a gallon of gas. There are long stretches of roads and highways where gas stations aren’t as plentiful in some areas. Cell reception can be spotty in some of these places as well. Make sure you don’t get too close to empty and end up stranded. Even with all the beauty you might enjoy as you wait for the calvary to show up, running out of gas could put a damper on your vacation plans for a few hours!


Bonus Tip: Embrace Fuel-Saving Habits

Remembering to practice simple and common fuel-saving habits like maintaining a steady speed, avoiding sudden acceleration or braking, and reducing unnecessary weight in your vehicle can all contribute to better mileage and lower fuel costs. On a long road-trip, all of these things add up! 


Charging Up: Electric Vehicles

For those embracing the future of transportation, EVs offer a thrilling and eco-friendly alternative. However, planning ahead can be even more important when taking a road trip in an EV. Here's what you need to know:


Where to Charge

  • Public Charging Stations: Public charging stations can be found in various places such as shopping centers, parking lots, and along highways. These stations offer different charging speeds and may require a charging network account or payment method to use. Some public stations are free, while others may have pay-per-use or subscription-based models.


  • Destination Charging: Certain destinations like hotels, resorts, and restaurants are starting to offer EV charging as an amenity for their guests. These charging stations allow EV drivers to recharge while enjoying their stay or grabbing a meal, adding convenience to their travel experience. For now, most of these options remain free.


  • RV Parks and Campgrounds: Some RV parks and campgrounds have started to offer EV charging stations, allowing EV owners to power up while enjoying outdoor adventures. These facilities often provide a relaxing environment and amenities for travelers.


  • Plugshare and other apps will become the MVP of your road trip when traveling in an EV. These apps can help locate charging stations and provide real-time availability information. Do your research to find the one that works best for you and make sure you’re comfortable navigating it before you leave home. Also, websites like have added filters to help you find lodging with charging stations along your route.


Time and Efficiency

Charging an electric vehicle takes time, and the speed of charging can vary depending on the charger type and your vehicle's battery capacity. Fast chargers, like those found at some public stations, can significantly reduce charging time. Planning your stops around charging sessions is crucial, as it may take longer than a typical refueling stop for a gas-powered vehicle. Also, keep in mind popular travel dates may increase demand for charging stations creating longer wait times than normal.


Costs to Consider

To help give you an idea of what to budget, we’ve provided a cost comparison. In the United States, to fully charge a Tesla Model 3 at home with a level 2 charging station, which requires a dedicated 240-volt circuit, the average cost is $6.83. If visiting any of these southern states, here are the average costs you can expect:  

Tennessee $5.71

North Carolina $5.66

South Carolina $5.94

Georgia $5.96

Florida $6.04

Since the above numbers represent the cost of charging at home with a level 2 charger, these are the costs to keep in mind If you’re visiting family or staying at a VRBO equipped with an at-home charging station. 

However, while on the road and traveling long distances, level 3 chargers, like Superchargers, found at charging stations are likely what you’ll need. They are more expensive at $.50/kWh costing $30 for a full charge. While this is more expensive than charging a Tesla Model 3 at home for $6.83, it takes a fraction of the time. When covering a lot of miles, being able to receive a full charge within 15-30 minutes is a huge plus.


Southern Summer Road Trips

Whether it's the allure of palm-fringed beaches, the rhythm of lively music festivals, or the countless historic landmarks, driving south becomes an enchanting gateway to a season filled with unforgettable memories and an irresistible sense of freedom. Fasten your seatbelt, roll down the windows, download your apps, and make sure you don’t run out of gas, or juice, along the way!

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