Rhinelander’s Machtan brings her love of travel to the community
By Eileen Persike, editor
In recent years, some Rhinelander High School students have had the fortunate opportunity to travel abroad with their classmates. Their parents, however, after helping raise money and pack their bags are left to wave goodbye, feet firmly planted on Rhinelander soil.
A former Rhinelander teacher wants to see those roles reversed, giving adults in the community the chance to travel and learn a little something along the way.
“I love to travel and when I was a teacher I took several school groups to Spain, Mexico; I took students three times to Germany so I am used to traveling in that capacity,” said Darlene Machtan. “Then when I stopped working at the high school, I ventured out on my own to China, Japan, Kenya, Paraguay. I am quite intrepid – when I travel alone or with a group I am not intimidated.”
Machtan gives all credit for the idea to her friend and student trip organizer, RHS teacher Linda Goldsworthy.
“She said to me, ‘you know every single time I put together one of these trips, adults come out of the woodwork asking if they can come along;’ and she has to say no,” Machtan recalled. “She told me she thinks people would love to do this, but they may not have the wherewithal or know the ropes and they want to make the trips but don’t want to have to organize it.”
That was all it took for the vivacious Machtan, who immediately said, “I can do that!” Goldsworthy agreed, telling her friend that she SHOULD do that. And thus, the Godags travel group was born.
Not sure exactly where to start, Machtan contacted the schools, suggesting it might be a Community Education offering, and the Hodag Schools Foundation, but neither was able to offer liability insurance to adults. The next step for Machtan was to contact The American Council for International Studies (ACIS), the same organization that plans the student trips. While group tours may not be for everyone, it’s a good way for travel novices to get their feet wet.
“It’s the same tours they plan for kids, but for the first time in my life I don’t have to worry about curfews, drinking and all of that,” the 34-year teaching veteran said. “It’s all tailored to adults. All I had to do was choose from 80-90 tours and provide an estimate of participation. They give me a price quote which includes minimal travel insurance; we will know this is the rate, these are the dates and it includes flights, two meals a day, hotels and tour guides.”
So Machtan went online and settled on a trip to Europe in June, 2016, going to Munich, Budapest, Salzburg, Prague and Vienna. “I picked that one because there is a large number of people here of German descent, and there might be a cultural connection for some. I also picked it because I have traveled in Germany quite extensively and speak the language a little; plus I taught in the Czech Republic one summer.”
There is also a second trip planned, to Australia and New Zealand in the spring of 2017, giving would-be travelers options, as well as the opportunity to plan vacation time and save money. Cost for the ten day trip is around $5,000 and two weeks in the down under will come in right around $7,000.
There is an organizational meeting Friday, July 10, from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Rhinelander District Library. Machtan says it will be interesting to see who turns out and what happens. In the meantime, she will be addressing service organizations with an international connection, the Women’s Club, retired teachers, High School reunions and former students. She doesn’t yet have a facebook page, but is working on it.
“I’m hoping it takes off because it would be so great down the line,” Machtan said. “It’s a sickness; travel is addicting. Every trip launches the desire to do more, see more.”
Darlene Machtan can be reached at email@example.com for more information.