How to Plan the Shortest Route for Multiple Destinations in Google Maps
Google Maps only plans 10 stops at once and won’t optimize the order. Here’s what you can do in Google Maps, plus how to optimize if you have hundreds of stops.
Google Maps helps drivers get from point A to point B, and it comes with some great user-friendly features. Looking up your destination is a breeze, and you can choose whether you’re biking, driving or taking public transport.
Plus, Google Maps is quick to reroute based on real-time information, factoring in time-drainers such as traffic delays and accidents. But if you’re a professional driver using Google Maps to plan a route with multiple destinations, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Google Maps limits the number of stops you can add to your trip.
- Google Maps actually has zero route optimization features, meaning you have to do all the calculations manually when you have multiple stops to make.
If you’re using Google Maps to get driving directions to run personal errands or plan a short road trip, you can make it work for you with minimal headaches (we’ll show you how in the next section). But if you’re a professional courier, a small business offering local delivery, or a delivery company with a full fleet, these limitations mean you’ll need something more robust.
Helping drivers plan the fastest route with multiple destinations was the main reason we built Circuit. And while the services we offer have expanded since then, it’s still our main feature.
In this guide, we’ll show you how route optimization has to be done if you’re using only Google Maps, and then how it can be done if you’re using Circuit in tandem with Google Maps.
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What Is the Best Way to Map a Route with Multiple Stops on Google Maps Only?
If you want to find the best route for multiple stops on the Google Maps app without using any extra route optimization software, here’s what you have to do:
1. Gather your stops
Keep in mind you can’t put in more than ten stops at a time. For example, say you want your route to end back at your starting point. This means you must use your starting point as your final destination, too — leaving only nine stops for your route.
If you have more than ten stops, the workaround is to put in ten stops, and then at your tenth stop, add ten more. And so on, until your route is finished. But this makes route optimization on Google Maps even more difficult because you aren’t taking all of your stops into consideration.
2. Enter your stops
Click on the directions button and add your first destination.
Google Maps defaults to using your current location as the starting point. Then click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of the mobile app, and select “Add Stop”.
The order in which you enter the stops is how your route gets mapped. You can’t upload stops with a CSV file (though with only ten stops, you really wouldn’t need to), but Google’s address autocomplete feature means it’s pretty painless to add destinations.
3. Look at your mapped route time, and then reorder the stops until you get the quickest possible route
To do this, you need to drag and drop your routes and take note of the ETA. When you’re looking at your mapped route, click on the three dots in the top right corner of the screen, and select “Edit Stops”.
From there, you can press down on a stop and drag it to switch up where it falls on your route.
4. Press the Start button in the bottom right corner of the app.
Once you’ve managed to find the shortest route you can, you’re ready to start the navigation.
To see how this process would play out, we added ten stops in Google Maps. I acted like a local florist shop that needs to drop off flowers for their clients across multiple neighboring zip codes.
Then we spent about ten minutes going through the route and trying to optimize it on our own.
Organizing by hand, we shaved off two hours of travel time, but we couldn’t fully eliminate back-tracking. And, keep in mind that this isn’t a fully optimized route. This is just the best we could do with what Google Maps offers.
Route Planning in Google Maps vs Circuit
How Multi-Stop Route Optimization Works with Circuit
The first thing to know is that Circuit for Teams doesn’t replace Google Maps as much as it elevates Google Maps. When you use Circuit for Teams, you essentially get a “Google Maps route planner” on top of the everyday navigation app you already have.
Put simply: You can still use Google Maps to navigate to all your stops, so you’re still going to get all the perks of using Google Maps that we mentioned earlier. The difference is you’re following a Circuit-optimized route to cut down on your drive time.
For one of our local courier customers, Sagar Khatri, using our route planning tool meant he could double the number of deliveries he was making per day. And when you’re being paid on commission per parcel, that directly translates to more revenue.
Here’s how it works.
1. When you sign up Circuit for Teams, you and your drivers can use our free Circuit for Teams mobile app (note: you also get a web app with Circuit for Teams for easier management)
Our mobile app works with both iPhone (iOS) and Android mobile devices. It’s designed to be simple and user-friendly, whether you’re using it at the office to plan your route or you’re using it on the go to manage your route in progress.
2. You load your addresses into Circuit for Teams
You can either input them manually by tapping them into your phone (Circuit for Teams uses the same auto-complete function that powers Google Maps, but with a few tweaks for improved user experience) or upload them in a CSV file.
Using a CSV file is a great feature for companies or drivers who are making dozens (or hundreds) of stops in a day. And unlike Google Maps, Circuit for Teams allows unlimited stops per route.
3. Circuit for Teams finds the most efficient route for you
Once you have your fully-optimized route, you can use your favorite mapping application (the Google Maps app, or if you prefer, Apple Maps or Waze) to follow the route and complete your stops. The Circuit Route Planner app — or Circuit for Teams, depending on what you’re using — works in the background to keep you on track.
4. If you need to make a detour, you can re-optimize your delivery route with a single click
As all delivery drivers know full well, you need your vehicle routing to adapt to changing scenarios. A traffic delay might demand a change of route, or a customer might need a delivery to happen later than expected. Or they might cancel their delivery altogether.
If any of these situations happen (and they regularly do), you can use Circuit for Teams to re-optimize your driving directions based on where you currently are in your route. And it will automatically find you the quickest way through your day.
And it’s worth mentioning again that Circuit for Teams isn’t made just for Google Maps. You can use Circuit with any navigation app that your drivers prefer, such as Apple Maps or Waze.
Introducing Circuit for Teams: More than Just a Route Planner
We started Circuit Route Planner to help all drivers manage their routes better so they could finish faster, and our service quickly found a following with delivery businesses. So we developed it to help them.
By using advanced algorithms, Circuit for Teams can optimize routes across an entire fleet of delivery drivers. Many dispatchers currently use postcode-based route planning to manage multiple drivers. While this is sometimes necessary, most businesses can use their driving teams more efficiently with the fleet-level route optimization Circuit for Teams gives.
Once you have the optimized routes in hand, you can push them to your drivers. The routes will show up in the Circuit for Teams app on their phones, and they can use Google Maps to navigate easily from stop to stop.
Circuit for Teams also lets dispatchers know where each driver is in context with their route. If a customer calls to ask about an ETA, the dispatcher can confidently relay where that particular driver is — and tell them when they can expect to get their package.
Note: Circuit for Teams also offers delivery updates for recipients, meaning your customers stay in the loop about the delivery’s time of arrival without having to contact you.