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The Best Free Route Planner with Unlimited Stops: Comparing 5 Route Planners

Finding the right route planning software saves you time and money — allowing you to plan the best routes in seconds while helping your drivers complete routes faster.

Inefficient route processes are expensive to manage, and will cut into your profits whether you’re a professional courier or if you supervise a team of delivery drivers.

First, there’s the time it takes to plan routes in advance. Sometimes delivery teams try to use free tools like Google Maps. But Google Maps was built to provide driving directions, not to find the shortest route possible.

Then there’s the expense associated with actually driving the route (e.g. the driver’s salary, plus the wear and tear on the vehicle, plus fuel costs). A general good rule of thumb: the shorter the driving time, the more profitable your delivery business will be.

Finding the right route planning software can save you time and money, allowing you to plan the best routes in a matter of seconds to help your drivers complete their stops faster. But there are other things to consider before making a decision, such as:

  • Will a free route planner work for me? There are several free route planners available (we deep dive into these later) but they do come with limitations. A free route planner might work for people planning road trips or part-time couriers who handle less than 10 stops at a time. But professional couriers and small businesses who offer local delivery will benefit from more advanced mapping software.
  • Is it possible to get a free route planner that offers unlimited stops? There isn’t — that we know of — a free route planner that offers free unlimited stops. Most free route planners offer somewhere between 10 to 20 stops per route. But there are route planners, like Circuit’s free route planner, that offer unlimited routes.
  • Is a paid route planner worth the outlay? Paid route planners offer advanced features — such as unlimited stops per route. The better route planning tools also come with other beneficial route management features, such as proof of delivery and order tracking.

In this article, we’re going to help you find what works best for you by looking at the best free route planners available — along with some paid options.

We’ll discuss how many stops each platform lets you make per route, whether or not they can divide routes amongst multiple drivers, and how their optimized routes work with apps like Google maps (which your drivers can still use to get their turn-by-turn directions).

If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free 7-day trial of Circuit.

1. Circuit

Circuit started as route optimization software for individual drivers — both for couriers and non-professionals who needed help with trip planning. But we noticed a significant number of our customers were professional drivers working for large delivery teams. Based on their feedback, we built a tool that offers the essential features you need to successfully (and cost-efficiently) manage a team of delivery drivers, which we go into below.

We still offer a free route planner app for drivers who need to create the fastest route possible and don’t require extra features such as route monitoring and proof of delivery.

Our free route planner app works with both iPhone/iOS and Android devices. You download it from the app store and it works in tandem with your preferred GPS navigation app, such as Google Maps or Waze. Under our free plan, our algorithm lets you optimize a route of up to 10 stops. There’s no limit to the number of routes you can make.

How to Get Started with Circuit

Manually typing addresses into the Circuit app is quick and efficient because we use the same auto-complete technology that Google Maps uses. This means as you type in your destination, Circuit is using your current location so it can suggest the most likely destination.

Plus, you can set advanced parameters, such as time-constraints and priority stops.

Priority stops with Circuit are easy to setup

Let’s say you’re a courier and one of your customers needs their package ASAP. On Circuit’s app, you can give that stop priority and Circuit will optimize the fastest route with that stop first.

Once you have your 10 stops entered, click Optimize” and Circuit will create your optimal route (factoring in any parameters you set). Once your route is ready to go (it takes just a few seconds), click “Start Route” and Circuit will automatically open up your preferred navigation app.

If you’re using Circuit on iPhone, as you finish stops, you’ll  toggle back to Circuit, mark a stop as complete, and then click “Continue Route”. 

If you’re using Circuit for Android, you don’t toggle back and forth, as a notification will pop up when you’re at the stop and you can mark the stop as ‘done’ without leaving the Circuit app.

Circuit for Professional Drivers

Circuit Pro Subscription is $20/month with unlimited stops

If you’re a professional courier who needs a multi-stop route planner that can handle more than 10 stops at a time, then you’ll benefit from our paid plan, which comes with a free 7-day trial.

On this plan, you can optimize up to 500 stops per route. Even if you’re a courier for companies like Amazon and DHL, 500 stops per route should be plenty to let you plan your stops each day.

Plus, if you’re using Circuit on Android, you can export your addresses into Circuit via an Excel spreadsheet (or .csv, .tsv, .xls, and .xlsx file types). We’re planning on expanding this functionality to iOS from 2021 onwards.

Bulk add addresses with a .csv, .tsv, .xlsx file

Finally, Circuit’s pro subscription can be canceled at any time, which means it’s a great option for drivers who have more work during specific times of the year (like the holiday season).

Circuit for Teams: Route Planning for Multiple Drivers (and More)

If you’re managing a team of delivery drivers, there’s more that goes into making an efficient delivery process than just optimizing for the fastest route. Based on feedback from professional delivery teams, here are the advanced features we offer to help make your delivery operations as efficient as possible:

Route Optimization for Multiple Drivers

With Circuit for Teams, you can optimize routes for multiple drivers. You can also swap routes between drivers, in case of a last minute change or if a driver prefers a specific route or area.

Let’s say the work day is about to start in 15 minutes. You’ve already imported your addresses into Circuit and created the most efficient route possible. Then, at the last minute, one of your drivers tells you they have to leave early due to an unexpected appointment. With minimal hassle on your end, you can set a time restraint for that driver, making sure they’re done with their stops by noon. Then you can re-optimize the remaining stops among your other drivers.

By using Circuit, what could have been an hour-long headache was fixed in a matter of minutes.

Route Monitoring

Circuit’s route monitoring tells you where your drivers are within the context of their route. Dispatch can use this feature to give customers a status update about their delivery and make changes to routes in progress.

For example, let’s say a customer calls and asks when their package will arrive. Without route monitoring, you’d have to take down the customer’s information and then call the driver — interrupting their route, thus adding to their travel time — to get an update.

But with route monitoring, you can look at your Circuit dashboard to get a real-time update on all routes in progress. With our route monitoring feature, you can see which stop your driver just completed, and where they’re going next.

Order Tracking

Order tracking: "Your package is out for delivery" and "Your package is arriving soon"

You can also greatly reduce the amount of customer calls you’ll receive at HQ by sending your customers order tracking information automatically.

At the start of the route, Circuit will send your customers an email or SMS message containing a link to a dashboard that they can use to check on the status of their delivery. Plus, as the driver gets closer to their address, the customer gets an updated and more accurate time window.

Delivery Tracking Updates: Hi Laurence, your order from RamseyBrews will be delivered today 13:45-15:45.

At this stage, the customer can also leave notes for the driver, such as a gate code or detailed information on how to find their specific building.

Proof of Delivery

Circuit offers two types of electronic proof of delivery:

  1. Signature: The driver can use their smartphone to collect a signature from the customer.
  2. Photo Capture: If the customer isn’t able to receive the package, the driver can leave the package in a secure location. Then the driver can take a photo of where they left it, and upload the photo to Circuit where it’s stored in the cloud.

Proof of Delivery: Delivery Successful, Parcel placed at side door 07:23

Whether it’s a signature or a photo capture, a copy of proof of delivery is sent to the customer. Plus, it’s available for reference within Circuit’s web app. This way, if a customer calls dispatch and asks about where their package was left, the dispatcher can reference the photo the delivery driver submitted and help the customer find their package.

Next, we’re going to look at other free route planners, highlighting their features and whether they offer any more advanced plans for delivery teams.

If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free 7-day trial of Circuit.

2. Speedy Route

Speedy Route is a web-based route planner, with the free version allowing you to calculate the route for a maximum of 10 stops. The benefit of Speedy Route is that you can add multiple vehicles to the list, and the algorithm will calculate how best to distribute routes between them.

Speedy Route Interface

For routes of more than 10 stops, you need to buy a subscription. The options are fairly flexible: daily access for $10, weekly for $20, or monthly for $50. If you have a lot of stops to enter, the tool allows you to bulk upload addresses or import a list of locations from a .txt file.

The downside of Speedy Route is that it’s not available as an app, because the Android product was discontinued in Google Play in 2015. This makes it harder to hand optimized routes over to drivers. However, if you just want to make sure that planning a few stops for multiple vehicles is done properly, Speedy Route is a useful tool. The setup makes it suited for delivery drivers and traveling salespeople who make a limited number of stops over a large distance.

3. RouteXL

RouteXL is a web-based route planner. It’s free if you’re planning delivery routes with 20 stops or fewer. If you need more than 20 stops per route, then RouteXL charges around $40. If you need more than 100 stops per route, RouteXL charges around $80.

At the time of writing, it doesn’t look like RouteXL offers any route planning features for drivers or delivery teams who need more than 200 stops optimized.

Route 20 vs RouteXL 100 vs RouteXL 200

The easiest way to use RouteXL is to create the route on your desktop (after making an account). After you finish your route, you can go to routexl.com on your mobile phone, log into the same account, and start the route.

Unfortunately, RouteXL doesn’t let you select a specific stop as having a high priority or time constraint. Also, it’s worth noting that with RouteXL, you’re not using an actual app, but instead relying on the mobile version of a website. This can be more draining on your phone battery, and certainly isn’t as easy to use as an app.

Note: For professional delivery teams, RouteXL is partnered with Webfleet Solutions which lets them offer an integration with TomTom devices. 

RouteXL: Paid vs. Free

The biggest difference between paying for RouteXL and using it free is the number of stops you can plan in a single route. But there’s one other significant difference: the quality of geocoding.

Geocoding helps you find addresses on the map when you’re typing in your destinations or importing addresses. We talked about this above in our section on Circuit, when we explained how we use the same type of geocoding Google Maps uses.

RouteXL’s free plan uses free geocoding services, which sometimes have a usage limit — and/or are generally not as reliable. This means you could be picking the wrong address on the map when creating your route. When you start paying for RouteXL, you’re upgraded to premium geocoding services which usually perform better.

4. MapQuest

MapQuest is similar to RouteXL, as it works mostly as a web-based route planner. But instead of 20 free stops, you get 26. Six more stops isn’t a major differentiator between MapQuest and other route planners, but MapQuest does also offer some advanced route planning features.

MapQuest RoutePlanner Interface

With MapQuest, you can pick whether you want your route to be mapped for the shortest time or the shortest distance. You can also ask MapQuest to avoid tolls, highways, ferries, seasonal roads, and country borders.

Plus, you can also import a spreadsheet of your destinations into MapQuest, which is going to be faster than manually typing in each address.

In short, MapQuest is a viable option for individuals planning route trips or vacations. But it doesn’t offer any advanced route management features or the ability to add more stops, which means it’s likely too limited to be used consistently by professional drivers.

5. TruckRouter

TruckRouter is a free routing software that was built for long-haul truck deliveries. That makes it different from the other free routing apps on our list because it offers features such as finding truck specific routes, entering waypoints, and making sure your truck won’t have any trouble with low clearance bridges or highways.

TruckRouter Interface

Because Truckrouter is specific to trucks, it’s not focused on offering a high number of stops. Most long-haul trucks aren’t in fact making many stops. Instead they’re traveling far distances — sometimes crossing multiple state lines — to make one or two deliveries or pick up goods.

TruckRouter can help you figure out the cost efficiency of your trip.

Let’s say you’re managing a fleet of large trucks and a client wants to pay you to deliver a load from South Florida to North Florida. You can factor in the route, the average time spent at each stop, and the cost of fuel. Then you can factor in how much you need to pay your driver to make sure you make a profit.

Are You Ready to Plan Routes Better and Make Faster Deliveries?

As you know, there is more to route planning than just getting your driver from point A to point B as quickly as possible. When you’re looking for the right route planner, we recommend you look at your entire delivery process, from route planning, to route execution, to what happens once your driver arrives at their destination.

Most delivery teams — and professional couriers — benefit from more advanced features such as proof of delivery and order tracking. By relying on free route planners, they may be saving money upfront just to lose it elsewhere in their operations through inefficiency.

If you’re only looking for route optimization, then we recommend you look at which route planner works with your mobile device and offers the features you need to plan an efficient, profitable route.

If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to keep track of them (while making their routes more efficient), sign up for a free 7-day trial of Circuit.

By David Klose

David is a content writer based out of Phoenix, Arizona. He has written for SaaS and e-commerce companies, as well as several mattress blogs. His work on sleep health has been featured on Today.com and Yahoo! Lifestyle. You can reach out to him through davidklosewrites.com.

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