As you may already be well aware of, bed bugs have become a bit of an epidemic here in the United States, but it wasn’t always this way. A little over a decade ago, bed bug complaints and outbreaks in the states were very few, but in recent years they have been making their presence felt with massive outbreaks in all parts of the country.
The reason why bed bugs have been on the rise is very likely due to traveling overseas and bed bugs hitching a ride in the luggage of immigrants and travelers. Even if traveling domestically, there is a huge risk of having bed bugs tag along with you when staying at hotels and places with large amounts of people moving about.
Bed bugs will literally jump at any opportunity presented to them to attach themselves to your clothing or ride in your luggage, following you to your home where they will most certainly breed and create an infestation while using your blood for nourishment.
How To Check for Bed Bugs in a Hotel or while Traveling
Bed Bug Prevention Tips To Consider when Traveling
Observe Your Surroundings and Be Thorough: This seems like common sense but often it is not placed high on the priority list of travelers who have many other things to worry about while traveling. When staying at a hotel room, bed and breakfast or even a friend’s house it’s important to take some time out to inspect the area, especially where you will be laying your head down to sleep for the night.
The best indication there are bed bugs present is by checking for the presence of the bed bugs’ droppings on mattresses and furniture. These are often in the form of dark red or light brown blood spots that give away the location of their nests.
If you discover that a room has these indicators, you should alert the hotel management immediately and demand to be relocated to a new room that is bedbug-free. Or you should probably go to a different establishment altogether.
Check Reviews Of Hotels Before Booking: Something that is basically a supplement to the first tip but also quite important when it comes to figuring out which hotel to stay while on vacation or traveling is to check online for hotel reviews to see if previous guests and patrons to a hotel had experienced any problems with bed bugs.
If you find any mention of bed bugs you should exercise caution and not book a room with that hotel, just to be on the safe side unless you can find out for sure that they have taken steps to eliminate that problem which you should be wary of since hoteliers usually don’t do a thorough enough job addressing their bed bug problems nor have they implemented an effective prevention program due to lack of knowledge and techniques.
Equip Yourself With Bed Bug Travel Items: No matter how good your intentions or a service members intentions, you can never be too sure that you are safe from bed bugs so your best bet is to arm yourself before any trip with one of our many bed bug travel items. There are a variety of professional strength bed bug sprays and bed bug powder that cane come in convenient travel sized packaging.
Recommended Read: The Ultimate Bed Bug Guide
There are also other helpful travel items like pillowcase covers, luggage liners and bed bug proof laundry bags. These products will give you the ability to eliminate, prevent or control any bugs so you don’t have to deal with them setting up shop when you are back home.
The Top Places to Check for Bed Bugs
Anytime you are traveling, you are at risk of possibly encountering bed bugs so it would be wise for you to exercise caution and do your due diligence in making sure wherever you stay is bed bug-free. The best way to do that is to inspect the place yourself.
Don’t worry about conventions and being rude, you have to be absolutely sure there are no bed bugs present for your own peace of mind.
Recommended Read: How to Kill the Entire Bed Bugs Life Cycle
Here are the main spots that you should inspect when being away on vacation:
Before you even think about unpacking, make sure you do a thorough inspection of the hotel room. Check behind the headboard, under lamps and inside dressers, drawers, sofas, and chairs. Bed bugs are excellent hiders and the bed isn’t the only place that they like to hide. You can’t leave any stone unturned.
Pull the dresser drawers completely out, one by one, and thoroughly inspect each one inside and out. Remember to check underneath as well. Like the headboard and frame, pay close attention to the corners, joints, screw heads and any grooves where bedbugs might like to hide or lay their eggs.
Again don’t let the hotel staff or your airbnb host “stop you from doing this by assuring you that you don’t need to do this because there are no bed bugs” Better to be safe than sorry.
One trick to use when checking dresser drawers is to grab something flat and sturdy, like a business card or credit card and swipe it across the cracks and crevices you find. If bed bugs are present in those secluded spots, they’ll come scattering out.
Pull back the sheets and inspect the seams of the mattress and the boxsprings, pay attention to the corners of the bed as they are usually a hot spot for bed bugs. If you don’t find bed bugs themselves you should watch out for pepper like blood stains, fecal spots or bed bugs shedded skins.
If you can, flip the mattress and inspect the underside as well. If bed bugs are present, they usually like to stay closer to the head of the bed, but make sure you thoroughly check the foot end of the mattress also.
The boxspring should not be neglected as this is usually the number 1 place that bed bugs like to hide. Check the box spring thoroughly as well, especially the underside and corners. Again, while this may seem excessive (your hosts will definitely think so), it needs to be done to rule out any chance of bed bugs. If you end up going to bed in the room and get bitten, you’re going to regret not checking the box spring.
We recommend during this inspection to leave your luggage outside the room or by the door at least as this is the least likely area for bed bugs to reside. Once you decide to stay in the room, we suggest you put your luggage in a plastic trash bag for your entire stay. You don’t want your luggage to have hitchhiking bed bugs riding with you back home and giving you an unwanted souvenir to remember your vacation by.
When you’ve arrived back home, reinspect your luggage before bringing them into your home. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before putting it away in storage. If possible use a hand steamer to steam your luggage bags. The heat will kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have followed you home.
Another pro tip is to equip your luggage bags with a bed bug aerosol spray just to be on the safe side. Traveling with a bed bug spray is worth it to protect your belongings and your own skin from hungry bed bugs that want to come along with you. Spray your bag while you are traveling and definitely when you are back home after vacationing.
4. Bring a Flashlight
Bed bugs like to hide in really tight, dark and secluded nooks and crannies so, if they are present, they are hard to see without the assistance of some extra light.
We highly recommend that before you head out to your vacation, bring a flashlight along with you. A flashlight will definitely come in handy when doing a quick visual inspection of the room.
If you don’t bring a flashlight at least be sure you have a flashlight app on your smartphone as a substitute flashlight to check for bed bugs, especially late at night if you feel like you’re itchy and want to catch bed bugs in the act if you did so decide to stay at whatever hotel or lodgings you are at.
5. Wall Sockets
It may be a scary thought, but bed bugs are quite crafty in the way they get around. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike in the cleaning or housekeeping carts in the hotel and can even travel from room to room through the electrical wall sockets.
Check the wall sockets of your room and if you have a small screwdriver handy, open up the plastic cover to look inside to see if bed bugs are using it as their own personal travel tunnel. This is an often neglected place to look for bed bugs so by doing this you can at least know that you are being thorough in your inspection.
6. Check the Chairs
Bed bugs are wherever humans lay, sit or rest, so chairs, sofas, love seats, recliners and ottomans are not immune to the presence of bed bugs.
Check the seams of the chair. Bed bugs love upholstered furniture because it gives them plenty of cracks and crevices to hide and stay close to their blood meal, us humans. Lift up any skirting of the furniture or remove cushions. Also check the underside by turning the chair over, with the help of a friend or family member if it’s too heavy.
Another thing you want to do is pull the chair away from the wall as bed bugs can be hiding between the furniture and the wall itself.
Perhaps the one place you can be sure that bed bugs won’t hang around in a hotel room is the bathroom. This makes the bathroom a great place to keep your suitcases and luggage to prevent the possibility of bed bugs hitching a ride. Often what is suggested is to place the luggage in the bathtub to really be on the safe side.
Just make sure you don’t forget your bags are in the tub when turning the water on for a shower!
Yes, your shoes can also become a vessel for bed bugs to hop into and hitch a ride so be careful where you place your shoes or you may get a wakeup call via bites on your feet. Place your shoes where you place your luggage, in safe areas like the restroom or near the door.
We’d also suggest getting plastic bags for your shoes as well and storing them in bags for the duration of your travel.
A vacation is supposed to be a good time to relax and enjoy quality time with friends and family and unfortunately bed bugs can put a damper on it with their presence. You don’t want to bring nasty bed bugs back home with you. If the above inspecting seems like a little too much, it really isn’t. You won’t regret being careful if it means you’ve spared yourself of a bed bug encounter.
If you spot bed bugs, notify the hotel management or the owner of the home immediately. If they cannot accommodate you with a bed bug-free room, get a refund and leave, plain and simple. Bed bugs should not be tolerated.
By following these steps you can rest easy knowing bed bugs are hitching a ride back home with you.
Recommended Read: How to Identify Bed Bugs