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Who doesn’t love free things? We all do, right?
But, it is also true that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Things that are offered for free often come with some hidden charges.
Simply put, free is never really free.
The same applies to choosing the best free route planners with unlimited stops in 2021.
There are quite a few free route planners with multiple stops support available online, but they are mostly paid apps that offer trial versions to test out.
There are also some route planners that are really free but cannot plot a route with unlimited stops.
Some even come with features that might not be suitable for all kinds of field service and delivery businesses, so, instead of calling these apps free route planners with unlimited stops, which is misleading, it is best to address them as free multi-stop route planners.
Without further ado, let’s get on with our list of the 10 best free route planners that plan routes with multiple stops, along with all their pros and cons, and advice on which is the best for all field service and delivery businesses.
#1 Google Maps Free Route Planner with GPS for Multiple Stops
TLDR: Proverb: “If it’s free, it’s me” So, if you’re looking for the best route planner that’s free, it’s Google Maps – which supports manual free route optimization.
The most popular and probably the best free route planner on this list is Google Maps. People across the globe love using the Google Maps route planner. Planning multi-stop driving directions with Google Maps is a breeze until you get to about 10 destinations.
While it is great for personal use, it is not the best route planner for commercial purposes, especially for medium- and large-scale field service and delivery businesses.
Why? Below is a list of the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself.
- Google Maps provide turn-by-turn directions and free map routes.
- It offers voice directions and can receive voice instructions, making hands-free driving a piece of cake.
- The estimated time of arrival given by Google Maps is oftentimes extremely accurate because of the real-time traffic data collected from users from all over the world.
- It runs on Google Cloud, which is very secure, reliable, and carbon neutral
- It is extremely user-friendly.
- Google Maps offers a street view which is very handy in pinpointing a location.
- Google Maps can be used offline too. It is useful for places where internet coverage is bad or non-existent.
- The free version only allows you to plot 10 stops.
- The paid version can be very expensive because the amount you need to pay depends on your usage volume.
- It doesn’t offer route optimization, meaning it will only show you the fastest route among the multiple stops, and if you haven’t entered the stops in the optimal order, the Google Maps route planner for deliveries will not do it for you.
- It is a stand-alone app; so, for other important features like GPS tracking of your drivers, you have to invest in other apps.
ALSO READ: Secrets of Google Route Optimization
#2 Route4Me Route Planner and Route Optimizer
Route4Me is one of the most popular route optimization software with over 38,000 happy paying customers.
The route planner has multi-stop capabilities and it just works no matter what kind of routing problems you throw at it.
In fact, it has been downloaded over two million times, and 100+ million destinations are visited every year using it.
It offers a free route planner app to help you plan the fastest route to work.
And, if you like it (we guarantee you’ll love it!), then you can choose any of our custom pricing packages as per your requirements, all of which support route planning with multiple stops.
Here is Route4Me’s page on pricing packages for service and delivery businesses.
Planning a multi-stop route on Route4Me is pretty easy – all you need to do is upload the list of addresses, set some parameters, and hit optimize. That’s it!
You’ll have a well-optimized route with turn-by-turn directions, which is free from bad weather, traffic congestion, one-way roads, left turns, and more, within a minute.
Learn how to plan a route with unlimited stops in just 30 seconds with Route4Me.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of the Route4Me route planner.
- Route4Me comes with a built-in GPS tracking feature that helps you monitor vehicles and drivers in real-time. So, if anything goes wrong, you can immediately take corrective actions. For example, you can track aggressive driving, drivers slacking off, and vehicle breakdowns.
- It comes with in-app voice-guided navigation so your drivers never have to look down at a map on a phone (especially in low-light or high-traffic conditions). They also don’t need to use an app for route planning and a totally separate app for navigation.
- Route4Me comes with an in-app address scanner that helps you scan the address on each package within minutes, suggests geocoded address options to choose from, and lets you instantly add scanned addresses to new or planned routes.
- It comes with an eSignature feature that helps customers sign for deliveries directly on your drivers’ smartphones. You’ll never lose a confirmation again.
- Route4Me’s route planner app comes with a weather map layer feature that shows you real-time weather conditions, so you can avoid delays, arrive on time, and keep your customers happy.
- You cannot create a route of more than 10 stops in the free route planner version.
- It comes with a lot of powerful features but most of them are available under paid version only.
#3 Waze Driving Route Planner
Google Maps bought Waze in 2013, but this app still offers some features that make it better than Google Maps.
It is also a hugely popular free multiple stop route planner app that is used by millions from all around the world.
- Waze collects updates about traffic conditions from other Waze users (called Wazers) and thus the data is very accurate.
- As a Wazer, you can easily update the app about road closures, accidents, road hazards, and so on. This makes driving more convenient for Wazers.
- It has voice directions and can receive voice instructions.
- The directions are very clear with the voice directions reading out the road names or exit numbers to ensure minimal mistakes.
- It only allows the plotting of two stops at a time. However, you can connect it with any other multi-stop route planner app to add more stops.
- Like Google Maps, Waze doesn’t offer route optimization and it is not designed for multiple stops driving directions.
- It is a stand-alone app too, with no other features crucial for field service and delivery businesses included.
#4 MapQuest Multiple Stop Route Planner
The MapQuest route planner has been around for more than two decades and still remains popular among many who are nostalgic. As far as we know, there is no such thing as a comprehensive business-grade mapquest route optimizer.
In fact, MapQuest route planner was the first commercialized route planning tool that revolutionized the concept of a map, but now in our opinion, it is mostly an advertisement landing page running open-source routing software (OpenStreetMaps) powered by a third-party company (MapBox).
Unfortunately, in our opinion, the MapQuest route planner went from early industry leader and innovator to advertising arbitrager. Plus, it’s very tough to plan multiple stop driving directions with it as well.
- It offers a street view like Google Maps.
- You can plot stops like grocery stores, coffee shops, and so on, making it great for personal use.
- It shows the total estimated fuel cost for a trip, which makes it very useful for field service and delivery businesses.
- You can plot up to 20 stops per trip with the free version.
- It doesn’t offer route optimization, but neither do the other route planners like Google, Apple, Waze, or MapBox
- MapQuest route planner is not very user-friendly and there are at least four ads on the web version, including streaming ad videos, which oftentimes make their web route planning tool unusable
#5 Apple Maps Free Route Planner
Apple Maps is another popular online free route planner and has come a long way since its inception. It has improved its navigation and the design of the map is second to none.
- Apple Maps offers a 3D street view, which is not just aesthetically appealing but is also helpful in finding a location.
- You can sync the Map on different Apple devices and platforms.
- The customer service of Apple is unparalleled.
- It provides voice navigation for multiple stops (aka multiple waypoints on a route).
- The biggest issue with Apple Maps is that it runs only on Apple devices, such as iOS, macOS, and iPad. (But does it matter at this point, they are the best in the market, and have a dominant competitive position as a result)
- It only allows you to plot two stops per route. This is not a great route planner or journey planner.
- It too doesn’t offer route optimization and does not come with any other useful features.
#6 RouteXL Route Planner
RouteXL is a web route planner that is commonly encountered (05-24-2021) on Google Search results when searching for a free route planner.
Their target audience is “micro” businesses – that commonly have a single driver (owner/operator), or at most a handful.
- It allows you to plot up to 20 stops with the free version (this obviously does not help delivery businesses who have to plan routes with over 1,000 multiple stops per day).
- RouteXL offers “vanilla” route optimization. Therefore it is a better choice than Google maps or Apple maps, which offer no optimization at all
- It allows you to import your plotted route on a spreadsheet, albeit in a very rigidly defined file format
- Users find the tool confusing and difficult to use.
- It is a website-based tool only.
- No support packages that a real business can purchase
#7 Plotaroute Journey Planner
This tool was created for recreational purposes, but if you or your drivers are using it for your small field service or delivery business, you can use this app for under 2 workers.
- It offers alternative routes for two-wheelers against the high traffic-congested roads.
- The standard membership doesn’t require you to make any payments, so it actually is a free route planner – that’s right, a hobby-grade a route planner that’s free!
- You can keep track of your mileage.
- It offers to plot short distances only because it is mainly aimed at recreational users.
- It doesn’t offer any feature that can be used by field service or delivery businesses, whether small, medium, or big.
This web route planner is not a free route planner, but it’s included on this list because it sometimes shows up on Google Search results when people search for business route optimization software.
- It allows you to plot up to 350 stops at a time.
- You can save routes for future use.
- You can also assign territories to manage your field service or delivery business better.
- It is expensive.
- Some users complain that the tool is difficult to navigate.
#9 SmartTruckRoute Truck GPS Navigation
SmartTruckRoute targets truck drivers and class 1-8 commercial vehicle operators, as the name suggests. It can be used by small owner-operators for basic single-vehicle routing.
- It attempts to offer truck-specific information, such as the height/weight allowance for a particular road and information about route elevation. Assuming the information is accurate, it can be really helpful when your trucks travel long distances.
- It has elements of a freemium business model.
- SmartTruckRoute is a truck-specific (commercial vehicle app) free route planner. Hence, it might not be as helpful with other vehicles in your fleet.
- We believe its user interface is 5-10 years obsolete, has a number of product defects (UX, etc.), and we have not been able to independently verify if the truck directions are fully compliant, in the USA and abroad.
#10 Speedy Route Free Route Planner
This is another great app that can be used around the world. Below we list the pros of using this app as well as the cons.
- It offers route optimization.
- The design is very simple, which can prove to be easier to use for most.
- The free route planner version only allows you to plot up to 10 stops. The paid version, however, lets you plot an unlimited number of stops.
- It’s not as aesthetically pleasing as some other multi-stop route planner apps on this list.
Paid Vs Free Route Planner
Now that you have gone through the list of the 10 most popular route planner apps that allow plotting multiple stops, we discuss whether you should go for a free app or a paid one.
You’ll notice that the free versions of the tools listed above all offer a limited number of features. While a start-up or small field service or delivery business might find these apps useful for cost-cutting purposes, they’re not great for their medium- or large-scale counterparts.
The reasons for this are:
- Free apps do not come with integrated features that are vital for field service and delivery businesses
- Free apps don’t come with any sort of business-grade support or service levels
- Route mapping free apps (or almost free apps like RouteXL or MyRouteOnline) are ineffective for businesses that have recurring routes
If you choose to use the free route planning software, you’ll have to invest in tools that offer the other features.
It can be very tricky to manage so many different tools, and those tools may or may not even be compatible with each other.
- Most of the free apps don’t offer route optimization. Manually planning an optimal route might work for small businesses that only make 10 stops a day, but is almost impossible when the stops amount to 150 to 200, which is normal for medium and large businesses.
- The free route planners allow you to plot up to 10 or 20 stops at a time using their free version, but even with the paid version, some of the apps don’t allow unlimited route plotting.
Compare this to a paid route planner app for delivery drivers, which:
- Comes integrated with features that are important for field service and delivery businesses.
Some of these features include GPS tracking, which allows you to keep a tab on your drivers on road, and analytics, which you data like fuel usage and distance traveled. Such data will help you make better decisions for your business.
Very routes may also be something your business needs, so paid route planners may allow you to plot an unlimited number of stops and optimizes the routes for you.
You may also need assistance with any issues, so paid route planners often offer great customer support service which is just a call away. You are, after all, a paying customer.
Final Words for Choosing the Best Free Route Planner with Unlimited Stops
You need to make the decision for your business! So, we have laid out the pros and cons of 10 free route planner apps and how they fare against a paid delivery driver app. The ultimate decision is yours, but our advice is to invest in a quality route planner app. Even if you have to pay for it, it’ll be more profitable in the long run.
So do you have any questions about free route planner apps? Happy? If so, please feel free to leave your comments below.