How to Plan the Shortest Route for Multiple Destinations in Google Maps
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How to Plan the Shortest Route for Multiple Destinations in Google Maps

Published: 4/24/2020Last updated: 8/4/2021

Google Maps helps drivers get from point A to point B, and it comes with some fantastic, user-friendly features. Looking up your destination is a breeze, and Google Maps is quick to re-route as needed based on real-time information, factoring in time-drainers such as traffic delays and car 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:

  1. Google Maps limits how many stops you can add to your trip.
  2. Google Maps actually has zero route optimization features.

If you’re using Google Maps to run personal errands and need to make multiple stops, you can still make the service work for you with minimal headaches (and we’ll show you how in the section below). But if you’re a professional courier, a small business offering local delivery, or a large warehouse with a full fleet, these two limitations will cause a significant drain on your resources. 

Helping drivers plan the fastest route with multiple destinations was the main reason we made Circuit. And while the services we offer have grown since then, it’s still a cornerstone feature. In this article, 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.

If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to optimize their routes, sign up for a free trial of Circuit

How to Optimize Your Multiple Destinations Route Using Only Google Maps 

If you want to find the best route on the Google Maps app without any additional software, here’s what you have to do.

#1: Gather your stops.

Keep in mind you can’t input 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, leaving nine stops for your route. If you have more than ten stops to make, the workaround is to put in ten stops, and then at your tenth stop, add ten more. And so on 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. Remember, 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. 

Inputing multiple location stops into Google Maps

#4: Press the Start button in the bottom right corner of the app.

Once you have the shortest route, you’re ready to start navigation. 

To see how this would play out, we added ten stops in Google maps. We 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.

Optimizing multiple destinations by hand in Google Maps is time-consuming and clunky. Fortunately, there's a better way to get the fastest route.

Organizing by hand, we shaved off 31 minutes of travel time but 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

First, Circuit doesn’t replace Google Maps as much as it elevates Google Maps. 

You can still use Google Maps to navigate to your stops — you’re still going to get all the perks of using Google Maps that we covered above — but you’re using a Circuit-optimized route to cut down on drive time. 

Delivery Schedule

Here’s how it works.

#1: You load addresses into Circuit.

You can either input them manually on your phone (Circuit uses the same autocomplete 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 working in dozens (or hundreds) of stops at a time. Unlike Google Maps, Circuit allows up to 500 stops per route.

#2: Circuit finds the most efficient route for you to take.

Once you have your fully optimized route, how you interact with Circuit will depend on the type of phone you’re using. If you’re an Android user, you get a chat head to streamline your interactions with Circuit and Google Maps. iOS users will toggle back and forth between the Google Maps app and Circuit as they finish stops.

#3: If you need to make a detour, re-optimize your route with a single click.

Any system that doesn’t adapt isn’t great for delivery drivers. You can experience a delay in traffic that makes you switch your route around. You could have a customer call and request a later delivery time or cancel their order altogether. If any of these happen, just re-optimize your route on Circuit based on where you currently are and what you want your next stop to be, and Circuit will find the quickest route possible.

And it’s worth mentioning that Circuit isn’t made just for Google Maps. You can use Circuit with any navigation app the driver prefers, such as Waze.

More Than Just a Route Planner

While we started Circuit to help all drivers finish their routes faster so they could get home earlier, our service quickly found a following with delivery businesses.

Circuit can optimize routes across an entire fleet of delivery drivers. Many dispatchers 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 provides. Once you have the optimized routes, you can push them to your drivers. The routes will show up in the Circuit app on their phones, and they can use Google Maps to navigate from stop to stop.

Good route dispatch software will tell you where drivers are in the context of their day.

Circuit also lets dispatchers know where the driver is in context with their route. If a customer calls to inquire about an ETA for a delivery, it’s not helpful for the dispatcher to know what cross streets the driver is at. By giving the driver’s location in context with the route, the dispatcher can confidently relay to the customer when their delivery will arrive. (Note: We recently rolled out an integration for recipients so that you can keep them automatically informed of delivery ETA and other relevant information.)

You can read more about how we’re optimizing Circuit for delivery teams on our blog if you’re curious about other functionality.

If you manage a team of drivers and want a simple, cost-effective way to optimize their routes, sign up for a free trial of Circuit

  • David Klose

    David Klose

    Freelancer Writer
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 and Yahoo! Lifestyle.