Saturday, November 23, 2013

Country Legends Coming to Town!

Its quite possible that many of you have enjoyed country music, and perhaps have even desired to meet the legends who have sung the music you love!
Sadly many of those legendary musicians are no longer touring, or have passed on, but there is a way that you can relive that great music... through the excellent show "Legends of Country Music" starring Larry King and the Legendary Band.

The Legends of Country Music entertains to sold out audiences throughout the country. Even though there's been new songs or artists added to the show, the basic format remains the same. The show highlights not just one or two entertainers, as most tribute shows do, but over 20, making the Legends of Country Music the largest country tribute show touring today! The audience members are informed with little known facts about the songs or artist in an entertaining way.

The best performers and musicians west of Nashville sing only the most recognizable #1 hits, nearly 40 in all. Each show member takes great pride in performing the songs as close to the original as possible, just the way you remember them. The Legends highlighted are never impersonated, only the highest respect is paid to each one. While attending the show, a true country music fan relives memories of the past, yet others appreciate the talent on stage and the fast pace of the show, all while making new memories.

The Legends will be performing throughout Arizona, at fine theatres and Performing Arts Centers throughout the Metro Phoenix area (Mesa, Chandler, Higley, Peoria to name a few), Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Yuma.

Their first performance will occur at the recently renovated, and beautiful Palms Theater in Mesa. (Formerly Broadway Palms) Tickets are still available for  the Dec 3, 2013, 7pm Show. Starting at only $20, its priced for all your family and friends to attend.

Tickets for most shows can be purchased through East-West Global Tours, who are proud sponsors of the Legends of Country Music!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gilbert Resident Trip to Six Flags!


Residents of Gilbert, AZ have the unique opportunity to join our trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, in July.

Normal park rates are $69, but our exclusive trip, which includes motorcoach transportation, park admission, and a friendly group leader, LESS THAN $88 per person for a family of 4!

You can save over $130pp, so sign up today! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

See us on the Gilbert Daily PRSS!

We are excited to be connected with a local blog feed called the Gilbert Daily PRSS!

Check out their interesting articles, promoting Gilbert and surrounding Arizona.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Are winter visitors getting ripped off?!!

Here in the metro Phoenix area, the "Valley of the Sun", literally 100's of thousands of visitors make the pilgrimage from colder regions of the U.S. & also Canada to bask in our relatively warmer climate.

Many come here to relax, and enjoy leisure activities, including traveling around the Southwest, and West Coast. In so doing, they partake of tours offered through their community, resort, or park. Sometimes they venture beyond the controlled offerings of these organizations to purchase tours directly from a tour company or travel agent.

While on its face, this appears quite innocuous; and it should be! Yet those engaged in providing tour opportunities may be ripping off the winter visitor. Here are 5 of the most common:

1. Misleading sales information.

There are tour providers in the Metro Phoenix area, that intentional or otherwise, have misleading information on the sales flyers and brochures.  You purchase a tour for its destination, amenities, and value. These suppliers seem to play tricks to compel you to think you are getting something, when in fact its less than what you were led to believe.

For example. you purchase a tour and it says "4 food coupons. You think "I get 4 meals on this tour." Reality is, you may get one buffet, a free coffee and donuts (valid from 6:00am til they run out - around 7:30am) and two coupons for discounted meals.

Another example are indications that you will see "Ten National Parks" yet the truth is, you'll visit only 3, see two more out your window as you drive by, and the remainder are state park visits or drive-bys as well. There aren't even 10 national parks on the route of that trip! Oh, and its worth noting that you will do this all in 3 days.  Its like a cruise company saying you will see 15 countries - but there are only 4 port stops on the cruise!

2. Cancellations

There is always the chance that a tour can get cancelled, and savvy travelers know it. Yet, a number of tour providers serving winter visitors to Phoenix, deliver a raw deal by requiring a high number of travelers for the trip to go, or  its cancelled.

Most often this is 40 passengers per motorcoach. If only 30 people purchase, the tour is cancelled, and here is the real rip off - they keep the money! No refunds given, just a credit on a new tour, and you have to use it withing 12 months or you lose it!

3. Changed Itineraries

Some companies, in an effort to still send a tour they priced at 40 passengers, will send it with fewer  passengers, but then intentionally drop items from the itinerary to save money.

Often this means not sending you on a motorcoach, but a two axle shuttle, or even a van. Of course, they aren't going to extend you the courtesy of letting you know about the changes. They just show up in the cheap vehicle, and then have a new itinerary (if they even bothered to send one prior.)

It also means that your hotel is not going to be the same, moving from a 3 star to a 1-2 star, and other promoted inclusives will be dropped, and the blame placed on a third party for cancelling, overbooking, closing, etc.

4. Guides & Directors

Almost always, a tour is promoted as having a tour guide, or tour director. Some companies have no real idea what it means to guide or direct a tour. You purchase a tour expecting a knowledgeable professional who can provide  interpretation, and share information, and you really end up with someone who can barely act as a hostess.

Travelers have shared their horror stories of these companies and their "guides" who have pulled stunts such as not showing up for the tour, abandoning the passengers and flying home on the first day of a tour, sexually patronizing select passengers, screaming at hotel staff, and a myriad of other unprofessional activity.

Other companies claim their tours are guided, but its left to the driver to both guide and drive. While the drivers do the best job possible, its just not the same level of service that a dedicated guide would provide.

5. Handling Money

Tour companies depend on cash flow, more than other industries, often because their product is tied to long term deposits, and distant sales, and income now, means available funds to reserve cruise cabins for next year.

With the recent down-turn in the economy, cash flow for tour companies serving only winter visitors, has dried up for a better part of the year. To compensate, some companies are resorting to guerrilla tactics to keep from refunding money they have already spent.

First, they claim their accountant has to process the refunds, yet its all handled in-house. Second, they claim its in process, and may take up to 60 days - a stall tactic so they can budget the refund to be paid with new income. After the 60 days, if they don't have funds, they will claim its been lost, or a family emergency, or an employee messed it up, and she has been dismissed.

If its on a credit card, and you file a claim, they will refute it, so it goes through a 30 day cycle, then if resubmitted, they will not respond, so it takes another 30 days for your credit card company to be able to refund your money - and effectively buying them time.

Sound Familiar?

If you have done any traveling with tour companies in the Metro Phoenix area, I'm sure you have encountered a company or two, that are doing some of these items, and yes, I think you are getting ripped off!

What else can you do?

1. Pay by credit card! Your credit card company has certain protections that can assist you in these circumstances. If you are not comfortable giving your card information to a sales person in the field, or by phone; reputable companies have online payment, where you can pay through a secure server - and its safer than any transaction done in person!

2. Get Travelers Insurance. Your tour company should be able to provide you with insurance. If they cannot - look elsewhere, as any professional operation has it available. Plans can cover just one tour, or if you tour more than three trips a year, a year-round policy is probably more cost effective.

3. Ask upfront what the company will do if there are not enough passengers, and demand that you must be notified if any significant changes will occur. A reputable company will be forthright, and your request not needed, but for those that have shady operations, its added protection. If they refuse - just move on, they have told you enough about how they conduct business.

4. When their are ambiguous claims made on a flyer or brochure, ask for specifics. For example, If it says "10 national parks" ask them to list them. If they can't get back to you with them listed, move on, and perhaps consider not using that company.

5. If on tour, and significant changes have been made, document each one, and the reason if given. This will empower you later if you need to address them with the company, or take other action.

Travel safe, and travel smart! If you think you are getting ripped off by a company, contact us, and let us help!

In my next article, I will address how to share your story, good or bad, so others can learn from your experience. With 10's of thousands of new winter visitors annually, its very helpful to let everyone know what has happened.

As always, Consider traveling with East-West Global Tours, where you are assured quality tours, and "over the top" customer service.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hazards of Cruising

In light of recent cruise ship calamities, its probably forefront on the minds of many potential travelers - is cruising dangerous?

To get an answer from one who sells cruises, you would expect the answer to be - No Problem, now lets book!

There needs to be more transparency from a reputable travel agency, and East-West Global Travel will lead forward in this endeavour.

Shipbuilders today, are the finest in the world, and have an amazing capacity of maximizing displacement, load capacity, minimizing sail area and draft, and efficient design of shipboard resources.

Still, travel aboard a metal ship, in water, inherently has its hazards. The  metal conducts heat, which is  a problem not only during a fire emergency, but as passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph discovered, which makes tropical living conditions unbearable from the ship sitting in the sun all day with no method to mitigate that heat.

With no power, the ability of the ship to capitalize on its design, becomes useless. The ship can no longer pump water in tanks to stabilize the ship, and limit listing (tipping on its side) fight other fires, or provide power to run bow propellers and stabilizers.

Cruise ships (and most vessels) are highly dependent on electrical power, without which its difficult to maintain proper temperatures in its food service equipment, and on some ships, even cook. Without redundant power, navigation and communication systems on the bridge can quickly be unusable.

As is also evidenced in the latest event, loss of power can also cease use of plumbing, a critical function when you have 3000+ passengers on board!

Fortunately, the Carnival Triumph did not experience serious weather, another fire, or risk of capsizing, and despite some media making this to be the worst catastrophe since the Titanic, the Carnival Triumph mishap is more hype that than serious danger to the passenger.

Yet, with all the current hype, there are risks that must be considered, that often are not known the the usual traveler. A good review of the risks have been enumerated by James Walker, an expert in Maritime issues, who wrote an Op-Ed on the CNN Website, titled "What Cruise Lines don't want you to Know."

As a young man, sailing with the Merchant Marines, I took the time each evening to visit the Radio Officers room, and copy morse code transmission from the Guam Station. This communication would provide updates to ships in the area about maritime risks, and weather concerns. One item I found interesting, was that EVERY DAY, there was at least one ship in sinking distress. Its the code on the seas that other ships in relative proximity, or headed that direction along the shipping lane, provide aid.  I served on my ship for 5 months, so approximately 150 ships were sinking during my tour of duty. Combine that with being aboard a Liquid Natural Gas Tanker, the regular pirate concerns while traveling the Straits of Malacca, and sailing the seas did seem to be treacherous!

Now, of the sinking vessels, not many of these ships were passenger ships, but they were all foreign flag ships. (Registered under the flag of a country other than the United States) The standards for ships sailing under a U.S. flag are very high. Other countries have limited standards, and are slow to enforce the standards they do exist. The should make passengers on Cruise Ships take notice as nearly all cruise ships in the world are flying under a foreign flag! They can effectively be sailing using sub-par standards than one would expect from a U.S. Vessel. For comparison, consider the motorcoaches in the U.S. vs what you can find in other countries: some are as good or better, but many pale in comparison. In fact, the only Deep Sea Cruise ship I know registered under the U.S. is the NCL Pride of America

As a traveler, you can ask your travel agent what flag your potential cruise is registered, and what to expect for safety on that cruise line. You can also check the U.S. Maritime Administration website for US Flagged vessels.

There are concerns about life on the sea. A disabled ship, not able to provide propulsion, or even water pressure for firefighting and plumbing is serious. Some cruise lines have built-in redundant power sources, and mobile generators; something that seems clear Carnival may be missing.

I believe more can be done. the life-rafts aboard a U.S. ship seem to have more for passenger comfort and safety than what Carnival could provide for its customers.

A ship that size should have the capacity for integrated shelters on deck. Just as valuable would be gravity fed plumbing, that could utilize water pumped (manually if needed) from the pools, and later directly from the ocean. This would make the plumbing non-potable, but prevent the decks from becoming a flowing bio-hazard.

Tankers have utilized large kites to reduce fuel costs and aid in propulsion. Availability of such apparatus may have value for ships in the same predicament as the Triumph.

There are probably many other safety issues that will come to light, as the safety of cruise lines is discussed among media and bloggers. With all the discussion, its worthwhile noting that while incidents actually happen quite frequently on cruises, largely they are mitigated without the passenger being inconvenienced or even made aware. Cruise companies are in the business of keeping their ships full of happy passengers, and thrive with repeat business. They cannot sustain their business if the ship and product is not up to the expectation of the customer.

While every savvy traveler should be aware of the potential discomforts, and even worst case scenarios while cruising, its good to know that 100's of 1000's of travelers sail annually without great inconvenience. In fact, they are more likely to get all the irritating discomforts on the flights to/from port, then they ever will as part of the cruise.

If you have questions about whether you should cruise, or if it is safe, please ask an agent at          East-West Global Travel. We can have a frank, transparent discussion about cruising safety, and then help you make a great choice among the many cruise lines.

Happy Cruising!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting the word out!

We have been aggressively promoting our travel business online, and have encountered a site we really like!

Click to see our business listing on Manta and give us a reccomendation:  East-West Global Travel

East-West Global Travel

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Accessible Travel

The World is Now More Accessible Than Ever - Explore and Enjoy It!

The world is now more accessible than ever before. Twenty percent (62 million) of the U.S. population has some form of disability, and the number of these individuals is increasing daily. These people need to, want to, and can travel. If you’re part of that twenty percent, a world of travel awaits you.

Travel professionals such as myself who are accessible travel advocates certified by SpecialNeeds Group, the leading global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, have unique, specialized knowledge about how to help individuals with disabilities enjoy a wonderful, hassle-free and memorable trip.

Here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure that when your next travel opportunity arises, you are ready to go.


Outline your travel needs

Take time to evaluate the logistics of your trip in relation to your ability to keep pace. What modes of transportation will you be using? Airplane, motor coach, train, ship, transit vans for ground transfers? Make a list, referring to relevant brochures, your trip organizer or travel agent to make sure you don’t miss anything.

Now, make a list of your specific requirements. Be honest: what types of special needs equipment do you depend on at home? What do you use or need (or wish you had!) when shopping, sightseeing locally, dining out or going to the movies, attending concerts, the theater, street fairs or sporting events at home?  

Can you hear and see clearly without special auditory equipment or visual aides?  How far can you walk without a rest break? Are stairs difficult? Can you get in and out of the tub or shower at home without handgrips or other assistance?

Travel, whether solo or in a group, is no time for roughing it or trying to “tough it out.” If a wheelchair, scooter or portable oxygen will make your trip easier, place that item on your list. Many people who do not use wheelchairs or walkers at home feel more comfortable using these mobility aides for tour and excursions. In fact, most of Special Needs Group’s wheelchair and scooter rentals are to individuals who only use such aides when traveling.   


Plan Ahead

If you already own a scooter or portable oxygen, it’s important to know the policy and procedures for bringing that equipment onboard all the transport vehicles included in your itinerary, from planes to taxis to ferry boats. Does that transport have a way to stow your scooter or wheelchair? Is oxygen allowed on board? Some airlines prohibit certain types of batteries, such as wet cell batteries, or oxygen cylinders. Airlines operate under strict rules, so there may be packing procedures to follow if they do allow the equipment. Keep in mind, most airlines need at least 48 hours’ notice to make special arrangements, and be prepared to fill out forms. 

Overall, cruise ships are more lenient in allowing oxygen, but some disallow certain types of oxygen. All require that the oxygen be delivered to the ship, and that you have enough for the entire voyage. Oxygen may never be brought aboard in your luggage. Requirements vary, so check your cruise line for proper instructions.  Again, documentation and paperwork are required. 

Whether you are headed for a cruise ship, hotel or all-inclusive resort, double check for wheelchair access at that venue, plus any venues you will be visiting on the trip.  Confirm that accessible hotel rooms, resort accommodations or ship staterooms are available for your travel dates. The earlier you book, the better your chances of securing fully accessible accommodations. And early booking increases your chances of securing a ground floor hotel room or cruise stateroom near the elevator, if these issues are important.

Check on the access to public rooms, restaurants, bars, toilets, the swimming pool, hot tub, beach area and other amenities. Are there TDD phone devices? How will you get in and out of the shower or bathtub? Are there flashing lights to accommodate hearing? Braille room numbers? Knowing in advance the scope of your needs gives you time to arrange advance rentals of any necessary equipment, scheduled to arrive when you do. Everything from scooters, lifts, ramps, TDD kits and special mattresses, including special needs cribs, is available for rental.

Will road travel or car excursions be part of the trip? Many car rental companies have vehicles that are modified for drivers or passengers with mobility limitations. Check ahead to make sure a suitable vehicle will be available for your travel dates. If you will be hiring a car or van, make sure the company is aware of your special needs.

When traveling with a limitation or disability, full travel insurance for medical coverage abroad and trip cancellation insurance are even more important and strongly advised.


Ask the Right Questions

When making the final bookings, be sure you ask the right questions, even if the accommodations or cruise stateroom are categorized as “accessible.”

For example, are doorways wide enough for the largest wheelchairs? Do the doors open outwards or into the room? 

Are all the public areas of the hotel, resort or ship accessible? Do you need to make special arrangements in the dining room to accommodate the wheelchair or scooter?

Will the bathroom facilities truly fit your needs? Is the bathroom large enough for the wheelchair or scooter? Is there a roll-in shower? Grab-bars?

 Are there facilities for companion/assistance animals?

Are there shopping and entertainment facilities close by if you are staying at a hotel or resort? 

 On shore excursions or tours, does the van have a lift and method for transporting wheelchairs and scooters?  

 Simply stated, don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to arrange for almost every situation, and the world is wonderfully accessible, once you know what’s needed, what’s available and how to find the necessary equipment.

I look forward to helping you with all of your accessible travel needs!

Monday, January 21, 2013



Fort Lauderdale, FL – JANUARY, 2013  – Shawn Elder, travel agent with East-West Global Travel, recently received certification from Special Needs Group, Inc. (, a global provider of special needs equipment for the travel industry, to specialize in special needs/accessible travel. To earn the distinction, Elder participated in Special Needs Group’s in-depth online 3 module certification program.


Through the program, agents gain an understanding of the special needs/accessible travel market. They learn about the best equipment to rent for special needs travel, ways to market special needs/accessible travel, and more.


Nationwide, one in seven persons has some form of disability, and one in five families is touched. By specializing in special needs/accessible travel, Elder has the ability to help this large percentage of the population travel in an enjoyable, safe and efficient manner.


Elder has worked in the travel industry for over 8 years, specializing in motorcoach tours, and accessible travel. He has facilitated travel & leisure opportunities ranging from bus tours & cruises, to skiing, fishing, cycling, caving, and trail-riding for many individuals with special needs. He has dedicated time to serve others at BYU-Idaho’s Adaptive Student Adventure Program (ASAP); the Special Olympics; and the Boy Scouts of America.


“Through Special Needs’ courses, I not only learned how to assist individuals with special needs to enjoy travel, but I found some very valuable new ways to serve the needs of all of my clients,” said Elder. “The population, as well as the travel industry itself, has undergone major changes in the past few years. By completing this program, I have the ability to stay on the cutting edge of these changes, and create opportunities for my clients.”


To book a vacation, whether it involves special needs individuals or others, contact Elder at 480-648-4735 or For more information about Special Needs Group’s special needs certification program, call 1-800-513-4515.


About Special Needs Group, Inc.

Special Needs Group, Inc. is the leading global provider of wheelchair rentals, scooter rentals, oxygen rentals and other special needs equipment rentals. It also offers a broad range of special needs equipment for purchase. Recommended by the world's major cruise lines for superior service and value, Special Needs Group also services guests visiting hotels, resorts, theme parks and convention centers.


Special Needs Group is the industry's only total special needs travel solution. It is located at 302 NW 1st Street, Dania Beach, FL 33004. For more information, visit or call 1-800-513-4515.

Brand New!

In an effort to mainstream the social media, and online presence of East-West Global Travel, and East-West Global Tours , we have created this new blog.

Its our sincere hope that you will find the information here useful, interesting, and better enable you to enjoy your future travel experiences.