7 Best Route Planners in 2024 (Free & Paid)

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By Komal Puri | July 20, 2023

Are you on a tight budget but need to plan routes efficiently? If you run a small business that involves service calls or deliveries, finding the best route planning tool without breaking the bank is crucial.

In this review of best paid and free route planning apps with multiple stops, we'll explore:

  • The best free route planners
  • Limitations of free route planners
  • When it's worth upgrading to a paid route planning app

We meticulously tested each of these route mapper apps using a standardized list of addresses to create routes, ensuring fair comparison.

Out of the 23 route planner apps we evaluated, here are our top 7 picks:

  • Google Maps: Ideal for individual drivers
  • Mapquest: Great for small businesses with up to 26 stops, though it comes with ads
  • RAC Route Planner: Excellent for solo drivers in the UK
  • Maps.me: Perfect for road trips
  • RouteXL: Suitable for small businesses with up to 20 stops
  • Speedy Route: Known for its user-friendliness
  • TruckRouter: A Truck routing software tailored for long-haul trucking in North America only

7 Best Free route planner apps

1. Google Maps: Ideal for individual drivers

  • Price: Free

  • Stop limit: 10

  • Route optimization: No

  • Multiple route planning: No

  • Platform: Web & mobile app

  • Best for: Individual drivers and short trips

Google Maps stands out as the premier free route planning software. It caters perfectly to single delivery drivers who require a swift route from one point to another.

Key highlights include:

  • Real-time traffic updates aiding in congestion avoidance.

  • Timely updates on road closures and diversions.

  • Seamless usability across various mobile devices, including Android and Apple.

  • Consistently accurate turn-by-turn directions.

  • More reliable Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETAs) compared to Apple Maps.

  • Intuitive and user friendly mobile application.

  • Street View is a fantastic supplementary feature that simplifies locating your destination by providing a photo of the building or parking entrance.

However, Google Maps has limitations as a multi-stop route planner. It permits only up to 10 stops, and the process is somewhat cumbersome.

Google Maps excels in identifying the fastest route between two stops and providing driving directions. However, it lacks route optimization capabilities, it is not a route optimizer meaning it cannot determine the most efficient path around multiple stops for users. While the Google Maps API offers extended functionality, it's inaccessible to the majority of users.

If you're managing around 10 stops, organizing addresses in a logical sequence manually is manageable. However, if your plan extends beyond 20 stops or involves multiple vehicles, you likely require a more efficient route planner capable of optimizing your stops in the most effective order.

Recommendation: Google Maps is an excellent choice for single-vehicle routes with 10 stops or fewer.

How can I access unlimited stops on Google Maps?

In short, you can't. However, with additional preparation and planning, Google's My Maps, a routing management software allows mapping routes of up to 100 stops or creating routes for multiple vehicles.

2. MapQuest: Ideal for small businesses with up to 26 stops

  • Price: Free

  • Stop limit: 26

  • Route optimization: Basic

  • Multiple route planning: No

  • Platform: Web & mobile app

  • Best for: Small businesses

When you encounter the limitations of Google Maps for route making, consider giving MapQuest a try. Established since 1996, this tool is tailored more towards business use.

Key features of MapQuest include:

  • Accommodation of up to 26 stops in a single route.

  • Basic route optimization available by selecting the "let us re-order stops" option.

  • Option to optimize routes for either the shortest distance or shortest time.

  • Ability to upload address lists via copy/paste or spreadsheet.

  • Convenient sharing of routes via social media, mobile numbers, or links.

  • Display of estimated fuel costs for each trip.

  • Easy printing of maps.

MapQuest comes with two significant drawbacks. Firstly, to sustain their free route planning service, they display ads, which can be distracting for users.

Secondly, MapQuest's ability to interpret addresses is very limited. If addresses are not formatted precisely, they may be marked as invalid. While there is a dropdown list with suggestions, in our testing, some suggestions were inaccurate, making it easy to select the wrong one. This could potentially waste a significant amount of time and money if addresses are not carefully verified.

Recommendation: MapQuest is the top free option for businesses with up to 26 stops, provided that you are confident in your address formatting and can tolerate ads.

3. RAC Route Planner: Ideal for solo drivers in the UK

  • Price: Free

  • Stop limit: 10

  • Route optimization: No

  • Multiple route planning: No

  • Platform: Web only

  • Best for: Individual drivers located in the UK.

For individual drivers located in the UK, the RAC Route Planner app serves as a solid choice. It allows for mapping routes with multiple stops and provides comprehensive information regarding traffic and weather conditions.

Moreover, the RAC app can be utilized for planning routes in Europe as well. However, users will need to manually look up and input the exact addresses of each destination. Unlike Google Maps and similar platforms, the RAC app does not automatically suggest locations as you type.

Recommendation: An excellent option for individuals based in the UK or Europe who prioritize safety and driving conditions.

4. Maps.me: Best for road trips

  • Purpose: Best for road trips, particularly in areas with limited mobile service.

  • Cost: Free of charge.

  • Stop Limit: Supports up to 10 stops.

  • Route Optimization: Not available.

  • Multiple Route Planning: Not supported.

  • Platform: Available on both Android and iOS devices.

If you find yourself needing to chart a route in remote areas with limited cellular coverage, Maps.me is the go-to solution. Its standout feature lies in its capability to download an unlimited number of maps to your iPhone or Android device and create unlimited routes. With Maps.me, you can incorporate up to 5 waypoints, explore pit stops along the journey, and navigate routes—all without consuming any data.

Maps.me primarily caters to tourists planning road trips, rather than business users seeking to plan delivery or service routes. For long-haul delivery drivers requiring additional features like fuel and distance tracking, as well as truck stop locations, TruckRouter, a truck route scheduling software presents a more suitable option.

Recommendation: Maps.me proves beneficial for recreational travel, especially when venturing onto roads with poor data signal reception.

5. RouteXL: Ideal for small businesses with up to 20 stops.

  • Best for: Small businesses with up to 20 stops.

  • Cost: Free to use with the option for a paid subscription.

  • Stop limit: Maximum of 20 stops allowed.

  • Route optimization: Provides basic route optimization.

  • Plan multiple routes: Does not support planning multiple routes.

  • Platform: Accessible via web only.

RouteXL serves as a viable alternative to Google Maps for free route planning. The free version allows for up to 20 stops and optimizes routes accordingly. Users can upload a list of stops via an Excel spreadsheet and share the optimized routes with a navigation app or phone.

One notable limitation is RouteXL's inability to recognize all addresses accurately, as evidenced in our testing. There were instances where stops were placed incorrectly. Therefore, users must meticulously verify their addresses before use.

Additionally, RouteXL can only generate routes for one vehicle at a time. Creating routes for multiple drivers necessitates separate arrangements, leading to a loss of route optimization benefits.

The interface may appear outdated and sluggish, lacking user-friendliness.

RouteXL offers free usage for up to 20 stops, with the option to access 100 or 200 stops per day through paid packages.

Recommendation: RouteXL presents a viable option for small businesses with a single driver who can allocate time for address verification.

6. Speedy Route: Top choice for ease of use.

  • Best for: Small businesses.

  • Cost: Free to use with the option for a paid subscription.

  • Stop limit: Allows up to 10 stops in the free version, with more stops available with paid plans.

  • Route optimization: Provides professional route optimization.

  • Plan multiple routes: Available with paid plans.

  • Platform: Accessible via web only.

Speedy Route is an additional free route planning and optimization tool. Its free version enables routing for up to 10 stops, while paid subscriptions support up to 10 drivers and 9,999 stops.

The web application boasts an appealing and user-friendly interface. Stops can be added through copy and paste or by uploading a spreadsheet, and users have the option to attach notes to each stop. After route optimization, routes can be exported to a spreadsheet file or printed out. While there's no direct option to transfer routes to a navigation app, users may be able to upload the spreadsheet to another app for navigation.

Recommendation: Speedy Route is a solid choice if your small business requires optimized routes for multiple vehicles and you're willing to take the extra steps to send your routes to a navigation app.

7. TruckRouter: Optimal for long-haul trucking within North America.

  • Cost: Free of charge.

  • Stop limit: Allows up to 5 stops.

  • Route optimization: Offers professional-level optimization.

  • Plan multiple routes: Not available.

  • Platform: Accessible via web only.

  • Best for: Long haul trucking.

If you're in search of free truck route planning software designed specifically for long-distance truck drivers, TruckRouter(a truck route scheduling system) could be the solution for you. This web-based route planning tool offers several features tailored to truck-specific routes:

TruckRouter optimizes routes considering height and weight restrictions, such as avoiding low bridges routes.

  • It provides a list of truck stops and facilities along each route.

  • The tool offers efficient calculation of estimated trip costs, including fuel expenses and toll roads.

  • It allows easy printing of itineraries and detailed directions.

  • Given that long-haul trucks typically make only 1-2 stops per trip, TruckRouter doesn't support a high number of stops.

Given that long-haul trucks typically make only 1-2 stops per trip, TruckRouter doesn't support a high number of stops.

TruckRouter is available exclusively in the US, Canada, and Mexico, and is accessible only via the web platform; it is not available on Apple's App Store or Google Play Store.

Recommendation: TruckRouter is the optimal tool for planning long-distance trucking routes, especially if you prefer planning on a computer and printing out the routes. It is limited to North America only.

What are the constraints of free route planners?

No route planning application is entirely free while providing unlimited stops. Many apps offer free usage up to a certain number of stops, typically around 10-20. However, beyond 25 stops or the necessity for routes for multiple vehicles, access to genuinely effective route planners requires payment.

For solo delivery drivers, there are indeed excellent mobile apps for managing delivery routes; however, they also come at a cost.

When should you consider upgrading to a paid route planning application?

As a route manager or dispatcher, it's advisable to invest in professional logistics routing software or route optimization software if:

  • You aim for more streamlined routes.

  • You operate two or more vehicles.

  • Your daily stops exceed 20.

  • Route planning consumes excessive time.

  • You seek to reduce fuel expenses.

  • Route planning becomes stressful.

  • You prefer to avoid hiring additional drivers or purchasing extra vehicles.

Well-designed routing software can save numerous hours in route planning each week. Ask yourself: "How long can we rely on a free route planning app before it becomes too costly?" Then, compare this with the pricing of a paid subscription; the return on investment should be evident.

Experience FarEye, It's the fastest way to test user-friendly route planning software. Alternatively, explore our review of the top delivery route planning software for more options.

Advantages of professional route planning software

1. Route Optimization

As the number of deliveries or service stops increases, route complexity grows. Our clients often find themselves investing hours in route planning every week. With route planning software integrating a route optimization algorithm, you can reduce route planning time to mere minutes. At FarEye, this feature lies at the heart of our product, and we allocate significant resources to continually enhance its efficiency.

2. Enhanced Delivery Experience

Nobody enjoys waiting around all day for a delivery! Yet, many companies still struggle to provide more than a vague "delivery on Tuesday" timeframe to customers. With suitable route planning software, you can create an improved delivery experience by offering precise delivery time windows and automatically updating customers regarding their delivery status.

3. Mobile Driver Apps

Route planning is just the beginning — you still need someone to drive the route and deliver the packages. To ensure the best delivery service for your customers, you'll need to provide your delivery drivers with the appropriate tools.

FarEye's mobile app equips your delivery drivers with efficient routes, accurate Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETAs), support for their preferred navigation apps (such as Google Maps, Apple Maps, or Waze), driving directions, and delivery instructions. Additionally, it enables drivers to gather proof of delivery — a functionality that free software does not offer.

Free route planning tools can be beneficial for startups.

In summary, if you're initiating a delivery business with just one delivery driver and a few stops, a free route planner app will suffice to begin operations. As your business expands, you'll likely require a more advanced route planning software. If you need assistance choosing the right one, you can find an updated, comprehensive review here: Best route planning software for delivery companies.

Komal puri

Komal Puri is a seasoned professional in the logistics and supply chain industry. As the Senior Director of Marketing and a subject matter expert at FarEye, she has been instrumental in shaping the industry narrative for the past decade. Her expertise and insights have earned her numerous awards and recognition. Komal’s writings reflect her deep understanding of the industry, offering valuable insights and thought leadership.

Komal Puri
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