The spring travel season has sprung! Soon, airports will be bustling with spring breakers, family vacationers, and everyone else itching to put winter in their rearview mirror, err, or, whatever the equivalent is on an airplane. What could be better than that?
Don’t let your wanderlust blind you from the reality that bed bugs are a growing concern. In fact bed bugs have grown 500% in the last ten years! While there are many reasons for the rise of bed bug occurrences, and, because of those reasons, it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, there are steps that you can take while traveling to make sure you don’t bring any of those blood-suckers back home with you. Check out the list of travel tips below to help you in the war against bed bugs.
- Check in and then check your room!
Okay, this one may seem pretty obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t know to check for bed bugs in their hotel room, or they just don’t know how. This is probably the single-handedly most important thing to do if you don’t want a run in with these creepy-crawlies. After you check in at the front desk, and you’re given your room key, head up to your room. It’s very important that you don’t put your luggage anywhere near the bed while you’re inspecting it. The safest spot in any hotel room, is the bathroom; throw your luggage in the shower until you have the all clear. Some savvy travelers even keep their luggage in their car until after they’re done checking.
With your luggage stowed safely, start pulling up the bedding on the mattress. You want to pay special attention to the seams. If it’s during the day, you will likely not see the bug itself, but rather blood stains (gross, we know). Since bed bugs are nocturnal, you are more likely to see them crawling around at night.
Once you’ve checked all over the seams of the mattress, it’s time to move to the box spring. “Fun” fact: bed bugs prefer the box spring as a place of harborage over the mattress, due to the dark, hollow spaces. For this, you may have to pull up the bed skirt, but the process is the same; check the seams all the way around the bed!
Despite what their moniker suggests, bed bugs are not exclusively found in the mattress or box spring. In fact, they can be found in really any hollow space or porous material. Other places worth checking out are: behind the headboard, behind pictures on the wall, electrical outlets, and any other plush furnishings in the room, such as a chair or sofa.
Once you’re done checking the room, and you feel confident you won’t be sleeping with any unwanted guests, it’s safe to take your luggage out of the bathroom or car.
- Check out review sites before you book your hotel
It’s important to know that bed bugs don’t discriminate; they can be found in the most luxurious of 5 start properties, as well as, the local, seedy motel down the road. A bed bug sighting at a hotel doesn’t necessarily correlate with how clean or nice the property is. I know what you may be thinking, and it’s probably along the lines of “Great! I’m not safe anywhere!” We feel you; just the thought of bed bugs can make us start itching, and we work in the industry! The good news is, there are several sites that you can check use to help you figure out if your hotel has had any bed bugs reported. Before you book your next room, check out Tripadvisor, Yelp, or any of your other favorite review sites. There is even a site dedicated to tracking customer sightings of bed bugs!
Again, we can’t emphasize this enough: bed bugs are everywhere, and it’s pretty much a matter of when, not if, they’re going to show up at any given hotel. Even though the hotel you’re looking at may not have any reported bed bug incidents, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they haven’t had any. Checking them out before you book may give you some insight into how many they have had reported, and more importantly, how they handled their customers’ complaints when they were found at their property.
- Check out and check your luggage
Okay, so this is kind of like number 1, but in reverse. Even though you’re an expert bed bug inspector now, and you've thoroughly checked your hotel room, that doesn’t mean that one didn’t slip by you. These guys are stealthy, and about the size of an apple seed when fully grown; it’s easy to miss them. To make matters more complicated, only a very small percentage of people show physical symptoms of bed bug bites! Meaning, you could have been their appetizer, main course, and dessert while you were sleeping and not even know it. That’s why it’s so important to check your luggage before you bring it back into your house. Bed bug remediation is difficult to do, and can be very expensive for the average person, so you want to take extra measures to ensure you’re not taking home any unwanted house guests.
Leave your luggage outside. Before you take your suitcase in the house to unpack, leave it outside; go inside and grab a garbage bag; put all of your clothes in the garbage bag; and then immediately throw your clothes in the washer. If any bed bugs hitched a ride in your suitcase, the heat from the washer and dryer will kill them. Depending on where you live, you may opt to leave your luggage outside for a few weeks, perhaps in a shed? If that’s not an option, another good idea is to put you suitcase in a plastic garbage bag, tie it as tight as possible, so that there is no air in there, and store it away in your house.
- Encase your beds
A mattress and box spring set is often times the most expensive thing in a hotel room, and they’re almost always the first to be thrown out after a bed bug infestation. More and more hotels are seeing the value in encasing their mattresses and box springs in advance of an infestation. When a bed is encased prior to a bed bug incident, the encasement stops bed bugs from getting in, so pest management professionals can re-mediate the room without having to throw out the bed. This same line of thinking holds true for everyone. If your beds are encased in advance, then you significantly reduce the cost of remediation and bed bug control, should any ever find themselves in your home.
- Stay vigilant
With bed bugs on the rise, and no indication of them slowing down, it’s important to stay informed and continue to check your surroundings when traveling. As avid travelers, we know how exhausting it can be to have to remove all of the bedding and check for bed bugs after a long flight. There have been many times where I’ve personally tried to beg, borrow, and steal not to have to do anything other than flopping down on my hotel bed, but the fact of the matter is, I’d rather be a little bit more tired than the dinner special every single time!