People will take a cross-country trip (or at least a long trip!) in their vehicle for plenty of different reasons, ranging from traveling a long distance out of necessity, taking a road trip for adventure, or even just hopping in the car and trying to be spontaneous, seeing where the road leads. And it seems like there are just as many different approaches to taking long driving trips in the car as there are reasons for taking such trips - but while most of these approaches are certainly fine, and while the spontaneity of a road trip is undeniably part of the appeal, there are still a few things in the way of "plan" that will help every road trip go more smoothly.
Before you do anything else in trying to approach a road trip with a plan, you will want to make sure you have your course mapped out; even though you will want to be spontaneous on your road trip, you will also probably be heading out with a specific destination in mind, and you will be much more likely to reach this destination if your course is mapped out in advance! In addition to mapping out your course, you should have an idea of where you plan to stop at the end of each day; of course, this provides for even more flexibility than mapping out your course, as you can adjust the place where you will end your day as you go along, this is important for giving you a target point you will want to reach each day. And lastly, it will be helpful for you to know what you are most likely to come across while driving during the day - and this goes for places you might want to eat, sights you might like to see, and even weather you might encounter, as this will give you a framework from which to work as you enter your day. Even as you pay attention to all these things, you will be able to be as spontaneous as you want to be on a road trip, but these things will help you to maximize your chances of success, and will give you a nice safety net if you get tired of spontaneity and want to make sure you reach your destination at last!