What if I get sick on a tour?
It is rare anyone gets sick on our trips; only three times since we have been running photo tours. However, if you should become ill, it's good for you to understand how we handle things:
What if I get sick on a group tour
If someone becomes sick on a group trip, we would assist them in making any arrangements, at their own cost. It is very important that you have adequate insurance cover for your trip, and the means (card) to pay, until your insurance company refunds you.
These are the options we would usually take:
1. If the person is not able to continue with the group:
We would typically extend the stay in the current hotel for the sick client, allowing the client to recover. We will explain to the hotel manager and staff that our client is ill, so they take extra good care of that person. If it is high season or hotel availability is an issue, we would recommend some nearby accommodation that has availability. We would make the calls and arrange people to transfer the luggage and the person to alternative accommodation; to be paid to the hotel on arrival. We would also be available to the client 24/7 by phone. Once the person is better, we would organize transport to the hotel where the rest of the group is staying.
2. Attend a hospital in Guilin city to see a Doctor. In China, it’s advisable to go straight to the very best hospitals in Guilin city, as they have some English speaking staff. In this case, it’s vital that the person contacts the insurance company at once, as for example my insurers require pre-approval.
Often alternative options arise, depending on our location and what is in the itinerary, and we'll alway try to help as much as possible. For an upset stomach, flu or diarrhoea, it’s a case of resting and catching up the group when you're well enough. We send a recommended packing list prior to you leaving, and you should carry medication for diarrhoea and flu type symptoms with you.
We have only had one father and son who ever became sick as a result of food, and it was not triggered by the food we ate as a group, as no-one else got sick.
THREE MOST LIKELY WAYS TO GET SICK
1. Mild exhaustion, caused by not drinking enough, getting up early, being jet-lagged and a hill climb. Mild exhaustion can exhibit the symptoms of diarrhoea.
2. Eating something you ordered yourself, in an untried & tested place.
3. Snacking on the go, while not paying attention to hand hygiene.
It is perhaps useful to give you some examples, so you can see some detail of how we have responded in the past:
6 YEARS OF GOOD FOOD
In 6 years of living in China, Andy and I have become ill from food three times. To give that perspective, we speak the language and often go off-piste exploring remote places; we often find ourselves eating strange foods in local homes, or have no option but to eat in places that we would never take clients. We take all the precautions we can, check the kitchens and only take our clients to tried and tested places to eat. The places we take clients, and recommend, have always been perfect, and nobody has yet to get sick from any. They are the places we enjoy going to ourselves, so we’re sure you’ll like them.
YOUR BIGGEST PROBLEM IS WHEN YOU ARRIVE HOME
The biggest problem you might have is when you get home, Chinese takeaways won't live up to your memory of China ;).
Real Life Examples
SERIOUS BACK PAIN | 2015
A lady was part of a large photo workshop with 15 clients, two leaders from overseas, and our two guides. Part way through the trip she aggravated an old injury and resulted in serious back pain. She said she did not need an ambulance and requested us to arrange a car, so we arranged a car for her to drive to Guilin city. We offered to hire a Spanish speaking guide from Guilin city or a translator at cost price, but she did not require help because her insurance company claim line gave access to translators on the telephone for her when she required. We stayed in contact with her each day. She paid all expenses and her insurance reimbursed her on return to her home country.
Once her back pain subsided, she was ready to leave the hospital and go to a hotel to rest. We called ahead to our next hotel and arranged for her to check-in a day early, paying on arrival. One of our Chines guides and a driver were arranged to collect her from the hospital and take her to the hotel, which she paid for. The next evening she was there smiling and waiting for us and rejoined the rest of the trip; she only missed the time in the rice terraces.
THE WOES OF SNACKING | 2014
It’s vital to wash your hands well, and use anti-bacterial hand gel. One occasion (we remember well) was the time someone dropped their lens cap in an old beautiful ancient street gutter, just wiped it off and never gave it a second thought, only to start snacking on some American cookies another client gave her. Everyone eat and drank the same all day, but only she was sick, sick all night. Luckily she could continue on the tour, because she had medication with her and there was no need for transfer onwards that day. She was very fatigued the next few days, and had to to take it easy.
The reality is that the Chinese street looked pretty, but in China often all types of water and animals pass along this kind of old alleyways, and mud might not be mud. In our experience, it’s personal hygiene mistakes that are more likely to make you sick vs. a meal.