In recent years, bed bugs have reemerged as more than an annoyance but an epidemic in metropolitan areas. Many experts attribute the spread to world travel being more commonplace. As you travel on airlines and the rail system you might pick up some hitchhikers who hide in your clothing and luggage and bring them home where they promptly set up residence. In no time, you’ll have an army of blood-sucking pests to fend off. If you plan to take a trip there are measures you can take to avoid bed bugs while traveling.
Always Inspect Your Hotel Room for Bed Bugs
Staying in a hotel or motel can feel risky because you never know what creepy crawlies are hiding in the mattress crevices, baseboards, box springs, or headboards. During the daylight hours, bed bugs are particularly good at hiding. It isn’t until the cover of darkness that they emerge to feast on blood before scurrying back to their lair.
Protecting Your Luggage
When you first arrive in your hotel room, avoid setting your luggage on the floor. Instead, carry your bag into the bathroom and either set it on the edge of the tub or use a luggage stand. Bed bugs rarely frequent bathrooms so it’s the safest place to store your gear while performing a thorough inspection.
Checking the Bed and Linens
Pull back the bedding so you can inspect the crevices of the bed. Look under the mattress, peek at the box springs, and check behind the headboard. Look for tiny black specks or dots that indicate bed bug excrement. The bed bugs themselves are small, no bigger than an apple seed and a dark shade of brownish/black.
Bed Bugs Stay Within 15 Feet of the Bed
You’ll also need to inspect behind any picture frames, around the phone, electrical outlets, and even in the alarm clock or lamp. Bed bugs can even hide within the dark confines of a bedside Bible. Normally, the bugs will be found within 15 feet of the bed.
Request a Refund
If you do encounter a bed bug problem in the hotel room, it is best to ask for a refund rather than request a separate room because if one room has a bug problem then it is likely that all the rooms at the hotel do. Bed bugs will hitch a ride on the maid’s linen carts and spread quickly throughout the establishment. If the hotel refuses to give you a refund and you have no other choice but to remain at the establishment then demand a room on another floor or as far away from the original room as possible.
If you can change hotels, instead of going directly to your new room, stop at a local laundromat to run all your clothing, including your shoes, through the dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes.
You can now purchase plastic zip up bags to encase your luggage. The slippery plastic surface will deter bed bugs from clinging to or hiding within the creases of your luggage. The plastic cases are designed not only for use during your hotel stay but also while in transit. If you can’t find the plastic covers, you can always use plastic garbage while staying away from home. In addition, if you are in the market for a new suitcase choose a hard case variety for more protection from the insects. For added safety, you can also pack the clothing within your suitcase in plastic bags.
Even with Precautions Infestations Happen
Unfortunately, even with the best precautions, you can still bring bedbugs home on your clothing. If you sit in an airline seat or other public upholstery, bugs can burrow into the folds of your clothing. Even checking your coat at a club or restaurant puts you in danger.
What to Do After You Come Home
Here are a few tips on how to treat things when you return home to stop the bugs from setting up residence:
- Throw your clothing in the washer and dryer. Bed bugs cannot survive in temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter. Dry the clothing on high heat for at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
- Vacuum out your suitcase and promptly dispose of the vacuum’s contents outdoors in your garbage receptacle.
- Watch for bites every morning if you have recently returned home for a trip. It is imperative that you catch a bed bug infestation early before the insects take over.
- Even with the best travel precautions, you still might find yourself riddled with pests when you return home. If you suspect that you have unwanted house guests after a trip, take action. Research adequate treatment options or call a professional pest control company to eradicate the bed bugs from your home before the infestation grows.
Let memories be the only thing you bring home from a trip by traveling smart and keeping yourself free from bed bugs!