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Everyone is traveling and when you travel, you often have to stay in hotels. This creates serious problems in the spread of bed bugs worldwide as there are bed bugs in hotels. When just one hotel becomes infested with bed bugs, everyone who stays at that hotel is at risk of taking bed bugs away with them.
Even if you were fortunate enough not to have suffered bed bug bites during your stay, bed bugs and bed bug eggs may be on your clothes and your luggage, and you’re giving them that free ride into your home or wherever you’re staying at next.
Although more and more hotels are recognizing the seriousness of bed bug infestations by hiring exterminators and spraying their rooms regularly, some infestations may still escape their attention or the hotel may be so badly managed that they just don’t care about your comfort and well-being. Traveling bed-bug-free in this day and age requires a lot of vigilance on your part.
So, in this post, I’m going to provide you with some important tips to avoid getting bed bugs in hotels when you’re traveling. These tips are split into 3 sections (things to do before you travel, things to do while you’re traveling, and things to do when you get home).
There’s actually a lot you can do before you even head out of the door. And the more preparation you make, the less your chances of picking up bed bugs from a hotel you stay at.
So, here are 4 tips for avoiding bed bugs in hotels even before you set out.
Pick a hotel that hasn’t had bed bug problems recently. You can try googling the name of your hotel along with “bed bugs” to see if any results come up, there are some websites that will list hotels with recent bed bug infestations, or you can read through reviews of hotels on websites such as tripadvisor.com and hotels.com. Some of the review websites are even searchable so you don’t even have to go through ever single review.
For most cities, there are so many hotels to choose from that I would skip a hotel if there was even the whiff of bed bugs in any of the reviews. I know this can appear unfair to what might be a perfectly great hotel, but sometimes you have to be selfish, and the hassle of dealing with bed bugs is so horrific that you really want to avoid getting bed bugs as much as possible.
You might also want to research some of the sights that you want to visit in case they also have bed bugs (for example, some stores and cinemas in New York City have been infested before). Obviously, it might be a good idea to avoid those locations!
Consider buying washable luggage, especially if you’re just planning a short trip. For example, Vera Bradley bags are all easily washable. Bed bugs and bed bug eggs can be killed at high temperatures so washing them on a high temperature cycle and then drying your luggage on a high temperature setting will sanitize your bags.
Or if taking just a washable bag when you travel is not possible (I know many of us have a lot of stuff we like to take on our trips!), then use a hard-cover suitcase instead as they are easier to clean. You can wipe down the outside of the suitcase with rubbing alcohol as that will also kill bed bugs.
This precaution is for in case your hotel has bed bugs which contaminates your luggage or if your bags sit next to people or luggage that is infested with bed bugs when you’re traveling.
You will want to wash all your clothes from the trip on high temperatures and then dry them at high temperatures as soon as you get home. This includes the clothes you wear home. This precaution will kill any bed bugs that snuck onto your clothes while you stayed somewhere that had bed bugs. Not all clothes are easily washable, so you don’t really want to have to deal with clothes that can’t be washed at high temperatures if you picked up bed bugs on your travels.
This can be annoying, I know! You probably want to take your nice clothes when you travel (especially if you’re traveling for business). Sometimes it’s just not possible to take clothes that are washable at high heat. In that case, you might want to just dry that piece of clothing at high temperatures (or leave it out in direct sunlight) so that the heat can kill any bed bugs on it without you wetting it.
This is an especially important tip if you’re taking clothes that can’t easily be washed or dried at high temperatures. By packing your clothes in sealed plastic bags, you can help to prevent bed bugs getting to them.
Hotels are just one place where you might pick up bed bugs. Another aspect to consider is the fact that you might pick up bed bugs when you’re on the plane or on a train or a bus. If you’re traveling by plane, try to just take carry-on luggage as there is a possibility that your bags may be sitting next to someone’s bed bug infested luggage in the cargo hold.
When you get to the hotel, you should follow tip number 3 to ensure that the room you’re staying in isn’t already bed bug infested. Tips 1 and 2 will help prevent you from picking up any of the bed bugs in case the room is infested and you didn’t notice.
The safest place to put your luggage in a hotel room is in the bathroom (especially the bathtub) because it’s usually white so you can easily see if there are any bugs in it. If you don’t want to put your luggage in the bathroom, try to put it high up away from the bed as bed bugs are generally attracted to where humans are (i.e. the bed). If there’s any plastic or metal furniture, then put your bags on that.
You can also put your luggage, if it’s not too large, into a large plastic bin liner and tie it up at the top to prevent bed bugs from getting on your luggage.
Check the beds for signs of bed bugs by peeling off the covers and bedsheets. Look at the mattress and mattress cover for dark stains (they look like little dark spots). In particular, look carefully at the seams and corners of the mattress. If you see dark stains or bed bugs, take your bags and immediately leave the room. Inform the reception desk that you need a new room because there are bed bugs on your bed. You should of course keep your luggage away from the bed and unopened at this point.
Hopefully you return home from your travels safe and free of bed bugs. But in case you picked up any bed bugs during your trip, you should follow these steps to ensure they are killed before they infest your home.
Immediately upon entering your home, take off all the clothes that you’re wearing and put everything including your washable luggage into the wash while you take a shower. Make sure to wash your clothes at high temperatures and then dry them also at high temperatures. For any clothes that you can’t wash on high temperatures, see if you can tumble dry them at high heat. Another option is to put those clothes into a bag and place them into a freezer for 1-2 weeks.
If you are unable to wash your luggage, then try washing down the seams of the luggage with some rubbing alcohol as this kills any bed bugs or bed bug eggs it comes into contact with. If you live in a warm climate, try putting your luggage in the sun for 12 hours before taking it into the house as this may kill some bed bugs on it.
Over the next few weeks, check for signs of bed bugs in your home regularly in case you brought home bed bug eggs that then hatched. Signs of bed bugs include more than just getting bites (in fact, bites are often a very bad indicator of bed bugs). Check out our Bed Bug Signs page for advance ways to tell if you have bed bugs. And if you do unfortunately get bed bugs, then follow our methods listed here to get rid of them swiftly and effectively.
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