You may have heard the myth that bed bugs are found only in dirty conditions. Not so.
In the news recently a 4-star hotel reported having problems with bed bugs. And as people who have had a bed bug infestation in their home can tell you, bed bugs can infiltrate even the cleanest homes and find places to hide.
The recent bed bug resurgence is thought by experts to be the result of several different factors. But for the purposes of this page, we’re going to talk about two:
- A general lack of awareness about bed bugs.
- An increase in international travel since World War II.
These two things go hand in hand. If you aren’t aware of bed bugs as a possible threat, you don’t know that you should protect yourself or how to protect yourself. And if you don’t protect yourself, you can contribute to the spread of bed bugs through travel.
The fact that you’re on this page is a good sign that you are aware.
These tips will help protect you from bed bugs while traveling. They will also help you protect your home from a bed bug infestation while you return.
Before you go.
There are a couple of things you can do before you travel to help protect yourself and your family against bed bugs.
Research Hotels and Hostels Ahead of Time
While you are doing your pre-trip research, check any hotels or hostels you might stay at on the tripadvisor.com, hotelchatter.com and bedbugregistry.com websites. There are no guarantees that a traveler will report a bed bug infestation at a hotel or hostel. But you do reduce the chances if do the research ahead of time.
Just because a hotel did have a bed bug infestation at one point doesn’t mean you should necessarily avoid it. Check the date of the most recent negative review. Maybe it’s in the past. Give the hotel a call and talk to the manager.
It might not be a bad idea to identify another hotel nearby you can stay at if you run into trouble. Keep a copy of their information with you just in case.
Choose The Right Luggage
Bed bugs like fabrics more than metals and plastics. And bed bugs are small enough to squeeze through closed zippers. This is why experts recommend using hard luggage that closes tight instead of soft luggage with zippers.
Protect Your Clothes
Seal your clothes inside air-tight bags. If the bags are not air-tight, they are not bed bug resistant. If you want to be sure, use BugZip bed bug proof bags. They are excellent, don’t cost much and will bring you peace of mind.
When you check into your hotel or hostel.
Protect Your Luggage
Never put your luggage on the bed or on a couch. Many hotel rooms have luggage racks. It’s a good idea to use them. Give the luggage rack a good inspection to make sure there are no bed beds on or near it. If no luggage rack, try to find a hard, light-colored surface and make sure it’s clear of bed bugs. Some people suggest keeping the luggage in the bath tub.
Check Your Room
Pull bedding aside and check mattresses for fecal stains. Check mattress seams for eggs, fecal stains, molted exoskeletons and bugs. Pull the headboard away from wall and check any cracks that might have bed bugs. If possible, check underside of bed where box spring is (if you can safely lift it out of the frame). Also check creases of drapes, seams of couch cushions, cracks and crevices of any furniture, cracks near wall trim, behind picture frames, any joints where floors and walls meet.
Before you leave.
Even if you saw no signs of bed bugs and had no bed bug bite symptoms, check your luggage, clothes and any bags. Look into the seams, nooks, folds and creases. Also, check the room again just to be on the safe side.
When you get home.
Do not bring your suitcase into your bedroom or living room. Never unpack on a bed or sofa. Unpack directly into your washing machine if possible.
If that is not possible, unpack bags on a hard, light colored surface so you can spot any bed bugs that might come out. You’ll want to unpack directly into a bag that you can then seal to prevent any bed bugs from escaping. The best idea is to use GreenClean dissolvable laundry bags. You could use normal trash bags but the hitch with that is what to do with all those infested trash bags after you do your laundry. You don’t want to keep them hanging around in your trash. The dissolvable bags are nice because they solve that problem.
Launder Clothes Immediately
Even if you didn’t wear all of the clothes you packed, wash them all as soon as you get home and unpack anyway. Don’t let them sit around in your home and don’t let them mix with other clothes or come in contact with your bed, carpets or furniture. Dryer-safe bags like backpacks can also go through dryer on high heat when you get home to kill any hitchhiking bed bugs as a precaution.
Treat Your Luggage, Then Store It Safely
After you finish unpacking, vacuum your luggage thoroughly. Be sure to use a bag-type vacuum and treat the bag with diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs you pick up. Get into all the seams, folds and crevices of your luggage as best you can.
There are a few ways you can treat your luggage before you put it away.
You can seal your luggage in black trash bags and let them sit in your car while your car is out in the sun for a few hours. Use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is high enough. Read 3 Practical Ways to Kill Bed Bugs for exact temperatures and times. Just make sure that you don’t stack up items or multiple pieces of luggages in the same bag. This will give bed bugs possible cool places to hide where it won’t get hot enough to kill them.
There is also a product made especially for treating luggage called PackTite. It is a collapsable chamber you put your luggage inside of. The chamber raises the temperature hot enough and for long enough to kill bed bugs. If you are a frequent traveler this is well worth the investment. People also use it effectively to treat other bed bug infested items.
Use bed bug insecticides. After you vacuum your luggage, you can treat it with an insecticide such as Kleenfree. You can also treat it with diatomaceous earth targeted at crawling insects before storing the luggage and then keep the luggage sealed until next use. If you use diatomaceous earth, you can simply vacuum it out before using the luggage again.
Store your luggage separate from your home if you can. Keeping it in a shed or your garage is better than having it in your closet or under your bed. Seal all luggage pieces in air-tight bags until you use them again.
Help Spread The Word
If you do find bed bugs while traveling, be sure to help fellow travelers out and help spread the word on bed bug awareness. You can send me your story to share with all our readers. Also, share your experiences on tripadvisor.com, hotelchatter.com and bedbugregistry.com.