How to Find the Shortest Route with Google Maps

Google Maps Shortest Route

In today’s world, everyone is on the go. We all have somewhere to be and we want to take the shortest route possible. This is even more true for delivery drivers and sales reps, who often have many different stops to make every day.

Luckily, there are tools you can use to find the shortest route for multiple destinations. Google Maps is one of the most popular, although it does have some drawbacks. We’ll show you how to find the shortest route with Google Maps, and talk about another route planner that will make your life a lot easier.

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Finding the Shortest Route with Google Maps

Google makes it easy to plan the shortest route possible:

  1. Go to, or open the Google Maps app.
  2. Enter your destination into the search bar.
    Google Maps Search Bar
  3. Click the “Directions” button
    Google Maps Direction Button
  4. Enter your starting location.
    Google Maps Starting Point
  5. Make sure the car icon is selected so Google knows you’re driving.

Google will offer you several different route options with the distance and travel time displayed next to them. If your preference is for the shortest route select the one with the least distance.

Google Maps Shortest Route Example

What’s the Difference Between the Shortest Route and the Fastest Route?

The shortest route is the one that covers the least amount of distance, whereas the fastest route is the one that takes the least amount of time.

While these two routes are the same most of the time, it’s not uncommon for the shortest route to not be the fastest route. This will largely depend on traffic conditions. For example, the shortest route might take you directly through a city where there’s a lot of traffic and many lights. It might actually be faster to go around the city, even though you’re covering more distance.

Google is able to identify traffic delays using real-time data and determine both the shortest and fastest route. You can then choose which you prefer.

When to Use the Shortest Route vs the Fastest Route

This is really a matter of personal preference. Some people prioritize getting somewhere as fast as possible while others want to take the easiest and most direct route.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • What’s the difference in travel time between the two routes? If it’s just a few minutes you might want to just take the most direct route.
  • Are you familiar with the area? The fastest routes are sometimes more complicated and take you through back roads. If you’re somewhere you’ve never been before the shortest route might be easier.
  • Which route contains fewer left turns? This is often a dangerous maneuver, especially on busy streets. You might want to choose whichever route has fewer left turns.

Depending on your needs you may select a route that’s neither the shortest nor the fastest. For example, if you’re a truck driver you’ll need a route that accommodates the height of your vehicle. Assess your needs and choose the best route for you.

Maptive Route Planner

How to Find the Fastest or Shortest Route with Multiple Destinations

Google Maps Shortest Route Multiple Stops

Google allows you to add up to ten stops to your route. Click “Add Destination” while creating your directions to add additional stops. Google will provide step-by-step directions from each stop.

Keep in mind that once you start adding multiple stops Google will default to only giving you the fastest route for each stop.

Drawbacks of Using Google to Find the Shortest Route

While Google Maps route planner is useful it does have some disadvantages compared to other route optimization software:

  • Only Add Ten Stops: Google only allows you to add up to ten stops to each route. This might be enough for some people, but if you’re a busy delivery driver you’ll likely need a route optimization tool that allows for more stops during one trip.
  • It Doesn’t Optimize Your Route: When you enter your stops Google doesn’t reorder them for you to create the most efficient route. This can lead to a lot of backtracking if you’re not careful. To avoid this, determine the most logical order for your stops ahead of time and enter them into Google in that order.
  • You Can Only Create One Route at a Time: Google doesn’t allow you to create multiple routes at once. If you have a large number of stops and multiple routes to create this will cost you time.

An Easier Way to Find the Shortest Route

As you can see, depending on your needs Google might not be the best tool for you. Luckily there’s a better solution for those who need to find the shortest route between multiple locations.

Maptive’s powerful mapping software includes a sophisticated route optimizer that makes planning routes easier than ever. Best of all, it’s built using Google Maps API so you get all the benefits of using Google plus some additional features.

Here’s why Maptive is a better option for route planning:

  • Add an unlimited number of stops to your route.
  • Plan multiple routes on the same map all at once.
  • Maptive will automatically calculate the best order for your stops to create the most efficient route.
  • Maptive’s cloud-based platform means team members can access routes from anywhere and from any device, including laptops, iOS and Android mobile devices, and more.

Create Optimized Routes in Minutes – Try Maptive Now

How to Find the Shortest Route with Maptive

Find the shortest route between multiple stops in seconds:

  1. Sign up for a Maptive account. A free seven-day trial is available to allow you to test the software.
  2. Log in to your account and select “Create New Map.”
  3. Enter a name for your map.
  4. Upload your location data from a spreadsheet, copy and paste it into Maptive, or enter it manually. If you want to build your map from scratch without uploading any data select “Click here to start adding locations to your map manually.”
  5. Click the tools icon in the top righthand corner.
  6. Select the “Routing / Directions Tool.”
  7. Maptive will default to using your current location as the starting point. Enter a different starting location if you wish.
  8. Enter the location of your first destination.
  9. Click “Add Additional Locations” to add more stops.
  10. Click “Optimize Route” to reorganize your stops and create the optimal stop order.
  11. Click the arrow next to each stop to get turn-by-turn directions.
  12. Once you’re ready to create a new route click “Clear Form.” Your first route and directions will be saved.

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