Whether for business or leisure, traveling can be a great experience. A chance to get out into the world and find some new places to explore. However, even the best trips can turn terrible if you are exposed to bed bugs on your journey. A single bed bug hiding in your luggage can lead to a full-blown infestation in your home. Thankfully, if you take the proper precautions you can avoid having these pests follow you home.
Planning Your Bed Bug Free Trip
Keeping safe when traveling is not only dependent on what you do during your trip but also the planning you do prior. The same can be said about staying pest free. It is important to know what the warning signs of bed bug activity are.
1 — Know what to look for
Before you depart, educate yourself on what these bugs look like:
- Eggs resemble grains of rice
- Young bed bugs are small and almost colorless
- Adult bed bugs are brown, oval, and wingless and have been likened to ticks
Adult sizing and color can vary depending on when they have eaten last. When the pests are filled with blood from a recent meal, they may appear reddish brown or even take on a purple shade.
2 — Know what to pack
First, we recommend investing in a hardshell suitcase. It is easier for bed bugs to gain access to upholstered luggage, but a hardshell will help keep them at bay when you have your luggage closed. Be sure to also pack clothing in sealable plastic bags, this will help prevent pests from hitching a ride home with you in your clothing. You will also want to bring a flashlight to aid in your inspection of your room.
3 — Pre-Screen your hotel room
When considering booking a room search online review forums for any indications that the establishment has Bed Bug activity. A great tool for this is the interactive bedbug registry database. Here you can find up to date reports on hotels experiencing bug problems in both America and Canada.
Staying Bed Bug Free While Traveling
Now that you have the proper tools and know what you are looking for, it is time to put it all to use throughout your travels in order to ensure you remain Bed Bug free. Do not go to sleep in a new room before doing a full inspection of the room for signs of bed bugs.
4 — Be cautious with your bags
Try not to bring your luggage, briefcases, or purses into the room prior to inspection. If you must bring them in with you try to avoid direct contact with bedding and carpet. Use luggage racks when available, or put them in the bathroom.
5 — Always be attentive
Do not let your guard down by thinking that upscale lodgings are off-limits to this type of infestation. Cleanliness is not a determining factor when it comes to bed bugs. Inspect all of your rooms carefully and thoroughly.
6 — Check everywhere
The first place you want to check when first entering a hotel room is the bedding. Look for small brown and black smears or spots on the linen. Look for shed exoskeletons around the bed frame or under the mattress. Don’t be afraid to pull all the bedding off and inspect the mattress itself. Check all furniture in the room especially places like nightstands and dressers placed close to the bed.
7 — We mean everywhere
Keep in mind that while these bugs are associated with sleeping areas, they can also be present in any upholstery where people sit or recline. Remain attentive for signs of infestations when riding in taxis, bus systems, and rental cars.
8 — Act promptly and assertively
If any signs of live bed bug activity is detected, be assertive and request a room change immediately. Be sure to request a change to a room that does not neighbor the one you just inspected. Bed Bugs are capable of moving to neighboring units during the night to feed on sleeping hosts. If the hotel is unable to switch you to another room, then it is time to consider switching lodging accommodations entirely.
9 — The morning after
Sometimes these bugs are difficult to detect, and they often hide in dark, hard to see spaces. If you wake up itching and discover bites on your body, it may be a sign of bug bites. If this is the case, request a new room or move to a new hotel. Even if the itching is due to an unknown cause, it is not worth compromising health and well-being when the issue may be bug related.
It can be challenging to eliminate bed bugs once they have established a place in your home. This is why it is important to take precautions, whether or not there were any bed bugs detected during your travels.
10 — Turn up the heat on your clothes/bags
Upon arriving at your home promptly run all your clothes through the dryer on high heat. If you want to be extra safe stop by a laundromat. If you traveled with upholstered luggage seal it in plastic bags until you can get the bags steamed. If bugs were detected while on the trip, avoid bringing any luggage into your home until they have been treated for contamination.