The Miller family at Salar de Uyuni salt flats, Bolivia.
The Miller family at Salar de Uyuni salt flats, Bolivia

A VU alum with a long-time dream to travel the world for a year with his family is making the most of the global lockdown.

Bruce Miller (Master of Business Administration, 2009) long held an idea of making a life-changing trip with his wife, Kate, and daughters Alex, 13, and Ashley, 9. The trip would loosely cover South America, southern Europe and Africa.

Carrying only one backpack each and leaving Melbourne in December 2019, the family has travelled through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia. They've been hiking, swimming, snorkelling and sightseeing.

A highlight was a three-day tour of Salar de Uyuni – a remote desert landscape in Bolivia with famous salt flats. This was the place where the Millers first heard news of a coronavirus lockdown.

Riding it out in Bolivia

"The day they closed the borders and began road closures was the most stressful day of our lives. The government's decision was made on the first night of our tour, when we were in the middle of the desert and had no WiFi or phone coverage to find out information."

Luckily, the family was able to arrange for a private driver to take them to the Bolivian capital of Sucre in the country’s southern highlands, "one the best places we could be to ride this out," said Bruce.

"By now we should be in Peru, possibly even hiking Machu Picchu. We are supposed to be in Colombia by July and then fly to Spain, but we have no idea if borders will be open by then, of even if our airline will still be operating."

Since mid-March, the family has been under strict curfew in Sucre. At first, only one adult family member was allowed out each morning for food shopping, but since 25 March that curfew has tightened to only one outing a week.

"Our days are a mixture of exercise – I have one flight of stairs that I can run up, and Kate and the girls do yoga, stretching and meditation – school work when the WiFi allows, and playing card games and charades. We buy lots of fresh food on our one shopping morning a week, so we are also doing more cooking than normal."

Bruce is a pragmatist about the change of plans.

"We are getting used to this but wish we didn't have to, and hoping May brings some good news."

Follow the adventures of Bruce and his family on the Miller family's travel Instagram.

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