How to Plan an Alternate Route With Google Maps

When the shortest distance between two points isn't a straight line

Google Maps
Google Inc.

When you enter a destination using Google maps on your computer or mobile device, you are often presented with more than one possible route. Google Maps highlights the suggested route in a bright blue color and includes other possible routes in a gray color. Each route is marked with distance and estimated driving time (assuming you are seeking driving instructions, rather than transit or cycling).

 

How to Select an Alternate Route

There are many reasons you might want to take an alternate route including to avoid a toll road, make a side trip or avoid heavy traffic.

It's easy to change the suggested route in Google Maps. To make a change to the suggested route, click anywhere on the bright blue path to set a point and drag it to a new location to modify the route. When you do this, any other suggested alternate routes disappear from the map and the driving directions change.

To select one of the alternate routes instead, click on it. Google Maps changes its highlight color to blue to indicate it is the new preferred route, without removing the other possible routes. To edit the new highlighted route, just click to set a point and drag the point to a different location. When you make a change, the other routes disappear and your driving directions change to reflect the new route.

This is a powerful tool, but it's easy to accidentally overdo it.

If you find that you've changed your route too much, you can use the back arrow on your browser to undo the damage.

Route Options

One way to plan an alternate route on Google Maps is to add multiple destinations to a suggested route. After you enter a destination and starting point, click the + sign underneath the destinations you entered.

This opens a third field where you can input an additional destination or click on the map to enter the new destination. Repeat the process to add additional destinations. Click on the route to see the directions. To change the order of the stops, click and drag the destination.

You can fine-tune the routes that Google Maps offers by telling it to avoid highways, tolls or ferries in the Options section of the destination panel.

Turn on live traffic reports by clicking "Traffic" in the Menu at the top of the destination panel. One of your suggested routes may be experiencing heavy traffic or delays, making the choice of an alternative more attractive.

Google Maps on Mobile Devices

Selecting an alternate route on mobile devices works the same way as it does on a computer, only instead of clicking the alternate route, you tap it to highlight it. 

However, you can't click and drag on a route to edit it on a mobile device. If you need to add a destination, tap the menu button at the top of the screen and select Add Stop after you have entered your destination and starting point.