BY EILEEN PERSIKE
International travel may have been considered a luxury once-in-a-lifetime experience years ago. More recently, it’s become common for Northwoods high school students to save money and hold fundraisers for the opportunity to travel to Europe or South America with their classmates. Now it’s time for their parents and grandparents to jump on that bandwagon, according to one experienced traveler.
About a year ago, Darlene Machtan announced she would be organizing a European tour for adults. Calling the organization the GoDags, Machtan said she wanted to make international travel easy for adults. The trip, she said, was a success.
“The trip was amazing,” Machtan said. “It was five countries in 10 days. Europeans think we’re crazy for such a schedule, but we saw a lot, we ate well, it was wonderful.”
Having a group of only three, the GoDags were put together with two other travel groups. Only four in the entire group were men. Women, according to Machtan, are generally the ones who travel.
“It’s been on my bucket list to take another trip to Europe,” said Rose Sword. “My husband had been to Europe when he was in the military and wasn’t interested in going back, but he said that I should go and have fun.”
Being part of a tour group that “took good care” of them was important to Sword, who said a nighttime boat ride on the Danube in Budapest was one of her favorite things.
Rhinelander High School teacher Linda Goldsworthy has taken several student groups to Europe and traveled internationally both on her own and with a tour group.
“The great part of traveling with an organization is the ease,” Goldsworthy said. “I’ve traveled with ACIS (the tour group Machtan uses) before and enjoy the down time when someone else is driving or making the arrangements. It gives me more time to simply relish the experience instead of worrying about details such as dinner reservations.”
For Sword, the value of seeing historical sites in famous cities in person is immeasurable. Traveling as a GoDag is something she would “definitely recommend.”
To be a member of the complex, global society in which we live, Goldsworthy believes it’s important to travel to understand it.
“As the world gets smaller due to technology, it’s important to see who is living in it,” she explained. “I remember experiencing the ‘slow food’ movement and agri-tourism in Italy and thinking how neat these things would work in Northern Wisconsin. On one of my group trips with adults, I was the youngest at 45. The oldest couple in the group were 75. They were often just as excited about various places we would visit and I think they were especially more appreciative of the foods we experienced.”
The GoDags’ next adventure will be in Australia and New Zealand next spring.
“It’s something that, if you don’t lock in the time and make the commitment, it will never happen,” said Machtan. “Make the commitment.”