How to Find the Shortest Route Between Multiple Destinations with Google Maps

keyKey Takeaways:
  • Google Maps provides a user-friendly tool for inputting multiple destinations and finding efficient routes, suitable for basic routing needs.
  • Google Maps, while useful for many, has limitations like manual optimization and a limit of ten stops, which can be restrictive for complex business needs.
  • Specialized route optimization software offers advanced features, unlimited stops, and customization, making it an ideal choice for businesses with complex routing requirements.

Every minute counts when you’re on the road, and the day is filled with multiple stops and deliveries. Wasted time and fuel can take a toll on your bottom line.

According to a study conducted by ATRI, congestion on highways and major roads in 2021 cost the trucking industry approximately $94.6 billion in lost productivity and increased operational costs. It is the highest ever recorded. For businesses, whether it be transportation, delivery, or logistics, optimizing routes can lead to significant cost savings and increased productivity.

In this blog, we’re going to explore how to find shortest route between multiple destinations. We’ll provide you with a roadmap, guiding you through the steps, pointing out the challenges, and ultimately offering a solution to make your routing tasks a breeze.

How to Choose the Shortest Route on Google Maps

Google Maps is a widely trusted tool for route planning. It offers a set of handy features that allow you to input multiple destinations and help you find the shortest and fastest route.

So, the following steps can help you find the shortest route between multiple destinations on Google Maps:

Step 1: Open Google Maps and begin mapping your route

Start by opening the Google Maps app on your iOS or Android mobile devices. You can also access it by visiting the website: begin mapping out your route, click on the “Directions” button.

Open Google Maps and begin mapping your route

Step 2: Set your starting location and add multiple destinations

Google Maps will often use your current location as the starting point. You can simply change this location by entering your preferred start location in the search bar.

After setting your starting point, add multiple destinations on Google Maps by clicking on the “Add stop” option in the app. If you are using the website, click on the “Add Destination” option.

Set your starting location
add multiple destinations

Step 3: Evaluate the default route

Google Maps route planner will usually suggest route options depending on the order in which you entered your stops. While this may be the most direct route, it is not always the shortest.

So, review your mapped route and make a note of the estimated time of arrival (ETA).

evaluate the default route

Step 4: Manually rearrange stops

Google Maps does not optimize routes for efficiency automatically. You may need to experiment with various stop sequences and modify the stops manually until you get the shortest route. 

Click the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen, and then click “Edit Stops.” After that, drag & drop stops to reorder them so that your route makes the most sense. 

Manually rearrange stops

Step 5: Start your journey

Once you’ve successfully optimized your route, you’re ready to hit the road.  Click the start button in the bottom right corner of the Google Maps app and let it guide you on your journey.

What are the Limitations of Google Maps You Should be Aware of?

While Google Maps is a useful route optimization tool, it is important to understand its challenges and limitations. Understanding these shortcomings will assist you in making informed decisions and considering alternate Google Maps solutions when necessary.

  • Limited number of stops

One notable limitation is that the maximum number of stops you can add to a route is ten, including your starting location and final destination. This limitation can be restrictive for delivery businesses or individuals with extensive routing needs. If you have more than nine stops, you may need to use workarounds, which can be less efficient.

  • Manual route optimization

Google Maps route planner does not optimize your route automatically. To determine the most efficient, shortest, and fastest routes, you must manually rearrange stops. This can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with a complex route with many stops.

  • Doesn’t fully eliminate backtracking

When optimizing a route manually, it can be challenging to eliminate backtracking entirely. Google Maps’ route optimization feature is not designed to minimize travel time effectively in all cases.

  • Real-time data updates

Google Maps route planner provides real-time traffic updates. However, these updates can sometimes lead to route changes that may not be the most efficient for multi-stop routes. It’s important to stay alert to such changes and adjust your route as needed.

  • Not suitable for complex business needs

Google Maps provides basic navigation and route optimization. Businesses with complex routing requirements, such as attaching notes, time windows, or managing a large number of stops or a large fleet of vehicles, may find the Google Maps app insufficient. In such a case, you may want to consider dedicated route optimization software like Upper.

Google Maps is a great tool for route optimization for many users, but it has limitations that can be a roadblock for more complex routing needs.

However, if you have complex requirements such as creating highly customizable routes, want to add more stops, or need automated route optimization, specialized route planning software like Upper with advanced routing features is a better fit. The software offers features designed to address the shortcomings of Google Maps route planner.  It provides a more comprehensive solution for efficient multi-stop shortest or fastest routes management.

Which is Better for Route Planning: Google Maps Vs. Upper

Aspect Google Maps Upper
Route Optimization Manual adjustments, limited optimization Advanced route optimization algorithms for efficient routes
Customization Limited customization for business needs Highly customizable. Users can define preferences, such as delivery windows, stop priorities, and driver constraints
Maximum Stops Limit of ten stops Unlimited stops
Real-time Updates Basic tracking and monitoring Live driver tracking
Proof of Delivery (POD) Not available Offers multiple POD options such as photo, eSignature, and notes
Integration with Apps Offers navigation but limited route optimization Integrates with navigation apps for optimized route
Cost Reduction Limited optimization’s impact on fuel costs Reduces fuel consumption and operational costs
Scalability Suitable for personal use or small-scale operations Suitable for businesses of all sizes

How to Plan the Shortest Route with Multiple Stops Using Upper

Finding the shortest and most direct route between multiple locations is crucial for optimizing your business operations and ensuring timely deliveries. While Google Maps route planner provides a useful tool for individual users, Upper shortest route planner takes route planning and optimization to the next level. It offers advanced routing solutions to individuals as well as businesses.

Here’s how you can utilize Upper to find the most efficient route with multiple stops:

Step 1: Create routes

Start by logging into your Upper account. If you don’t have one yet, it’s quick to sign up. Once you’re in, click on “+ Create Route Plan.” This opens your workspace for planning routes.

create route plan

Step 2: Add destinations

Now, tell Upper where you need to go. You can do this in a couple of ways. If you’ve got your stops all neatly organized in an Excel file, just click on “Upload File” or drag and drop it. Upper will fetch your data like a pro.

Or, if you prefer to do things manually, click the “+ Add Stops” button and enter the addresses one by one. It’s as easy as ordering a pizza online.

add destination

Step 3: Customize your route

Upper lets you customize your delivery routes to fit your business needs. Set delivery windows and service times, pre-assign delivery drivers, add notes, and set priority for each stop. It’s like customizing a pizza—your route, your way.

customize your delivery routes

Step 4: Assign drivers

Once you are done with adding stops and making customizations as per your preference, click on “Next” to choose your drivers. In the current window, you can either “Add More Drivers” or choose from the existing ones.

You also have the option to set their shift schedules, break times, and choose the vehicle type. You can also add preferences, like avoiding highways or toll roads.

choose your drivers and assign

Step 5: Optimize routes

This is where the magic happens. Once you have selected the drivers, click “Optimize and Assign Routes.” 

On clicking that, Upper will start optimizing and finding the most efficient routes, considering factors like traffic, distance, and time. This saves you time, money, and fuel costs.

optimize routes

Step 6: Review your routes

On completing the optimization process, you’ll see the timeline module of Upper. Here, all the optimized routes will be mapped. Before hitting the road, carefully review your routes. You can swap routes or drivers if needed. Upper offers the flexibility to fine-tune your plan.

review your route

Step 7: Share routes with drivers

Now it’s time to shine. Once you’re done reviewing and finalizing your routes, it’s time to assign them to your drivers. With a single click, you can dispatch the optimized routes. Your drivers will get these routes instantly on their mobile apps or through email and text messages.

share your route

The best part? You can export multiple routes in CSV or XLS format, print them for your drivers, or send them to navigation apps like Waze, Google Maps, or Apple Maps. Upper’s got all the bases covered.

With Upper, multi-stop route planning becomes a breeze, whether you’re a pro or just starting.


To find the shortest travel route, utilize mapping tools like Google Maps or Bing Maps. After entering your destination, check the suggested routes. For the shortest route, manual adjustments to the proposed path might be necessary, as these services tend to prioritize quicker travel times.

Yes, Google Maps allows you to input multiple destinations and plan an optimal route with several stops. However, it may not optimize the route for the shortest path.

Google Maps provides driving directions for multiple stops but may not optimize the route for the shortest distance or time. Users will need to manually rearrange the stops for an optimized route.

Google Maps offers the option to share a route with others. You can send the route to your mobile device or export it to your go-to navigation app, such as Google Maps, Waze, or Apple Maps.

Google Maps allows you to save routes by signing in to your Google account. This feature is useful if you frequently visit the same destinations.

To plan the shortest routes, consider using Google Maps, MapQuest, OpenStreetMap, or specialized route planning apps, like Upper, that allow you to prioritize distance. These tools can offer more flexibility than standard GPS services.

Google Maps generally prioritizes the fastest route. While there’s no direct option for the shortest distance, you can manually adjust your route by dragging the stops and changing their sequence.

Google Maps is optimized to find the fastest route, not necessarily the shortest in distance. It doesn’t offer a specific ‘shortest route’ option, but the fastest route often coincides with the shortest.

To find the shortest driving distance, use a mapping service like Google Maps or Waze. Just enter your destinations in the app and examine the proposed routes. To ensure the shortest distance, you may have to manually modify the route, as these apps usually focus on reducing travel time.

When organizing a route with multiple stops, consider the following factors:

  • Order of stops
  • Distance between stops
  • Stop priorities
  • Traffic conditions and road closures
  • Time constraints
  • Avoidance preferences (avoiding highways or toll roads)

To ensure a successful route plan with multiple stops using Google Maps:

  • Prioritize stops: Identify high-priority stops or time-sensitive tasks and arrange your route accordingly.
  • Optimize the order: Experiment with different orders to find the best route, considering traffic and distance.
  • Check traffic updates: Use real-time traffic data provided by Google Maps to make on-the-go adjustments and avoid congested areas.
  • Regularly review and adjust: Continuously monitor and adjust your route as conditions change and new stops are added or removed.
  • Use alternative routes: Explore alternative routes to save time, especially in areas with heavy traffic.

Embrace Specialized Routing Software for Efficient Route Planning

While Google Maps is a valuable tool for route planning, its limitations become evident when managing multiple stops and complex logistics. To overcome these challenges and streamline your operations, consider using Upper, the easiest way to find the fastest or shortest route.

Upper offers a range of advanced features that can address the shortcomings of Google Maps. It includes efficient route optimization, customizable routes, and seamless delivery driver assignment. By following the steps we’ve outlined in the blog, you can ensure that your routes are as efficient as possible, saving both time and resources.So, make the smart choice by integrating Upper into your route planning strategy. Take the to experience the benefits of optimized routing. Happy routing!

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.