The recent wave of bed bug infestation in American hotels has brought a whole new meaning to that old bedtime saying: “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” No one wants to get bitten by bedbugs while traveling, but even worse is bringing them home with you. Here are a few things that travelers can do before, during and after a trip to help insure that those bed bugs won’t be doing any biting.
Before booking any hotels, it is important to do your homework. This means that it’s time for a little internet research. One website to check is www.tripadvisor.com. TripAdvisor, is a website where travelers can rate the quality of their hotel experience. Scan the reviews for any mention of bed bugs and avoid any place that has at least two or three recent bed bug sightings. Since it is always important to get a second opinion, check out www.thebedbugregistry.com to see if the hotel you’re leaning towards is listed. Remember, though, that only US, Canadian and UK hotels are listed. And, if all else fails, try googling the name of the hotel and “bed bugs” to see if there are any hits.
While packing, put as many of your belongings into ziplock bags. This is a great organizational technique, but it is also just another layer of defense against bed bugs that might crawl into your bag. After all, they can’t infest your clothing if you put it into airtight bags. Be sure to pack extra bags in case one of them breaks, as well as gloves and a mini flashlight to use when inspecting the hotel room for an infestation.
Adult bedbugs can be identified by their reddish-brown color. They are wingless, and have oval shaped bodies. Before feeding, they are about the size of a pencil eraser and nearly as flat as a piece of paper, which is why they can fit into such narrow crevices. After they have fed they become bloated and dark red.
The first thing that every traveler should do when entering a hotel room is search it for signs of bed bugs. While you do this, put your suitcase in the bathtub where it is less likely that there will be any bugs. First examine the headboard and then check the mattress – being sure to examine the upper and lower seams, as well as the tag. Next inspect the drawers of the bedside table and along the wall. Telltale signs of an infestation are tiny reddish brown or black excrement spots, light brown skins or the actual bugs themselves.
If you find something, go down to the front desk and discreetly explain your discoveries. Ask for another room and go through the same examination process. If you don’t find anything, still take the following precautions:
- Don’t unpack your clothes if possible.
- Keep your suitcase on the luggage stand. Never put it on the bed.
- Each morning check the sheets for blood spots.
- Inspect all of your clothing before leaving.
Upon Returning Home
Upon returning home, unpack and examine your clothes in the bathtub. Put the clothing into large ziplock bags until they can be washed with hot water and detergent and dried on low heat for at least 20 minutes. If you happen to see bed bugs,