Multi Destination Routing – Muliple Vias
One feature you might hear from time to time talked about is Multiple Destination Routing, or having the ability to have multiple “vias” per route. Is this an important feature? Should you look for this in a GPS device? It all depends on the types of routes you take. Here is our guidance.
The simplest form of routing is when you enter in a destination and the GPS figures out how to get there from where you are now. In this scenario, there are two points/waypoints of the route; your current location and the destination.
One Via Per Route
However sometimes you might have a more complex route you would like to take. If you need to go pickup something to take to another location, you now have three waypoints for the route; your current location, the location where you need to pickup something, and the final destination.
There are a couple of ways you can handle this. With the simplest GPS devices without multiple destination routing you can simply set your GPS to navigate to the first location and then when you arrive ask it to route you to the final destination. For the majority of auto GPS users, this will work fine and not having the ability to program in multiple via points won’t be a big deal.
Some devices (notably most of the Garmin auto GPS systems) will allow you to enter in one “via” point. The way you do this is to create a route to your final destination and allow the GPS to calculate the route. Then create a route to your waypoint (via point). On these devices the GPS will then ask if you want that location to be a new final destination, erasing the old route, or inserted into the current route as a via point. Again, this simple functionality will work for most people.
Multiple Vias Per Route
However there are times when you might want more than one stop in the route. If you are a sales rep, in real estate, or a delivery person you might need to go to several stops. If your GPS does not support multiple vias per route you could enter in all of your addresses individually, then navigate to each one, one at a time.
However this might not be too convenient. It also doesn’t allow you to get a big picture of your entire day. You might want your GPS to give you the total time it will take to drive the entire route (excluding time spent at the stops) to see if you can fit in one more call. This is where having multi destination routing can really help.
Another scenario is driving on long, extended routes. Let’s say you are taking a long drive that will pass through multiple large cities. Many of the cities might have alternate routes around the city to avoid inner city traffic. These routes might not be seen as optimal by the GPS because they are longer. With multi-destination-routing you can setup via points along the bypass around each city. The GPS will then know to route you around each city. This is the way I commonly use the feature.
Once you have multiple destinations laid out in one route, some GPS devices have a feature called “route optimization which will take the waypoints you have entered, and sort them in an order based on how close one waypoint is to another. This would be useful in the example of a sales rep. However, take this feature with a grain of salt and understand the limitations.
I learned the hard way that route optimization doesn’t necessarily mean it will find the most efficient order to visit each location. Instead, what the GPS will do is look at your current position and then find the first waypoint (destination) that is closest to your current location. Then it will find the next waypoint that is closest to the first waypoint, and so on. This doesn’t necessarily produce the most efficient order. So as of now when you hear “route optimization”, take that feature with a grain of salt.
If you are looking for a simple device, you might not need a GPS with multi-destination routing. It isn’t found in many of the popular GPS devices (although we think it should be an option) and many people who own GPS devices with that feature have probably never used it.
But if you frequently visit a number of different locations in one day or want complete control over the route you take, you will want to take a hard look at devices which offer multi destination routing.