the long way south - chapter 4

It's best to remain open-minded when you're on the road. For Karen, Luz, Cassie and Adriana it was a whirlwind of unforeseen adventures.

Every trip is full of expected and unexpected challenges. From the steeper-than-you-realized hike you planned to the flat tire you most certainly did not plan, you never quite know what’s gonna happen. Case in point: Karen had planned for desert backpacking. She definitely didn’t plan for the cactus incident.

The friends hikingSan Ignacio Map

The best thing to do is be prepared and laugh your way through whatever happens. Because sometimes the things you remember most about your summer vacation are the moments you least expected.

Here’s how the four REI members squeezed fun from every challenge. Plus, get some be-prepared tips for your next trip.


Thank goodness for auto mechanics

Baja Bertha (their car) went through a bit of a rough patch.

Run through this maintenance checklist before
you leave to minimize on-the-road headaches.

Double check the radio
Avoid the horror that is a music or podcast-free road trip. Double check all audio is working before you leave town.

Get an oil change
Get your car prepped for the road and have them check all the fluids (coolant, brake, wiper) while they're under the hood.

Give your car a bath
Not only will you be able to take better before and after photos, you'll also have better visibility. It's a win/win.

Check the tread and pressure of your tires
Try and avoid a flat tire by checking your air pressure of having a mechanic test your tires before you head out.

10 essentials for backpacking

For a full list of essentials, check out our Expert Advice article on what to bring backpacking
Gear, storage & maintenance
Repair kit and tools
Extra food
Emergency and survival
Emergency shelter

A cactus-side campsite

When you’re at the base of the Tres Vírgenes volcanoes surrounded by towering cacti, it’s always a good call to throw down your tent and set up camp.
One of the key takeaways from hiking in the desert? Always pack more water than you think you need. Photo by Carina Skrobecki.
A desert walk at the base of the Tres Vírgenes volcanoes. Photo by Carina Skrobecki.

The Co-op Wanderlust Shop

You'll never know what you can do (and what you love) until you try.
Shop the Wander Collection
“I did so many things on this trip that scared me.
I was out of my element and I was OK with it.”
– Adriana

Karen: 0, Cactus: 1

Karen found herself in a prickly situation
while making a quick pit stop.
up next - chapter 5

Here's how to make sure your summer
vibes never expire.