The kids are out of school, so you are planning your next family getaway over the summer break. You make hotel reservations at an upscale resort where you expect everything to be immaculate and insect free, but that may not be the case.
There are many misconceptions around bed bugs including the belief that they won’t infest a clean or upscale location. After all, bed bugs are usually associated with dive motels. However, bed bugs do not care where they live, as long as they have a source of food. The bugs hide in hospitals, nursing homes, and five-star hotels. In fact, Disneyland resorts recently had an alleged bed bug infestation.
Avoiding Bed Bugs While Staying at a Hotel
Staying at a hotel is a risky business. Even if a hotel has never had a bed bug infestation, it can easily occur. The guest before you can bring the bugs into the room on their suitcases or clothing and hotel management remains oblivious as a few bugs rapidly becomes a full-blown infestation.
Checking the Hotel Room for Bed Bugs
Knowing the signs to look out for when you first enter a hotel room is imperative to avoiding these pests. Here are a few signs that your hotel may have bed bugs:
- Read Online Reviews: Online reviews are a valuable insight into a hotel’s hidden conditions. If a past guest reported having bed bugs, proceed with caution. Yes, the hotel might have had the premises treated for bed bugs, but they often jump from room to room using HVAC vents, under/around the door gaps, or other small crevices that connect the rooms. Once a hotel has had bed bugs there is no guarantee that they won’t spring up again after treatment.
- Luggage: When you first enter the room, your natural reflex may be to set your luggage on the floor or bed but refrain from doing so until you have inspected the room. The best place to set your luggage is in the bathtub. Bed bugs are rarely found in the bathroom and have a difficult time scaling smooth surfaces.
- Checking the Bed: Pull the bed linen back on the mattress and focus your attention on the corners. Bed bugs gravitate to the corner crevices where they can hide during the day. Remember, bed bugs are typically only the size of an apple seed. If you have a flashlight handy use it to inspect the seams of the mattress closely. You can also try sliding a credit card or driver’s license along the seam to flush out any hiding bugs.
- Remove the Blankets: Inspect the sheets closely for any discarded exoskeletons or flecks of reddish fecal matter.
- Furnishings: Many hotel rooms have sofas or upholstered chairs. Use a flashlight to check their crevices for any signs of an infestation, especially if the room has a sleeper sofa.
- Curtains: Look through the folds of the curtains for any bugs that might be hiding.
- Headboard and Nightstand: Look behind the headboard and nightstand, focusing on any groves in the items where bed bugs might be able to hide.
- Electronics: Many hotel rooms have an electronic clock radios on the bedside table where bed bugs love to climb inside and hide. Using the flashlight, look closely at the item, focusing on any vent holes or potential entrance points.
- Wallpaper: Hotel rooms often boast wallpaper. Watch for any loose or ripped sections that the bugs could hide behind.
- Baseboards and Carpeting: Inspect along the baseboards and where the carpet meets the wall, a common spot for entire colonies to nest.
- Look Up: Look up to where the wall meets the ceiling. This juncture is a favorite place for bed bugs to call home.
Using the Bed Bug Registry
Before booking a hotel check out the bed bug registry online. The site lets travelers know if a hotel has had any recent reports of the pests. Enter the information for the area and hotel that you are interested in.
Additional Online Resources for Bed Bug Reports
Another online resource to check out for both USA and Canada is Bed Bug Reports. You can search for reports in the area where you will be staying. The reports also list cleanliness and other information on hotels and apartment complexes.
Even if your room appeared to be bed bug free and you didn't wake up with any nasty bites, you should still immediately launder all of your clothing and dry it on a hot setting once you return home to avoid introducing an unwanted insect into your home.
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