Wednesday, July 15, 2020 Edition: U.S. & World | Regional

How to Avoid Bed Bugs When You Travel (and what to do if you encounter them)

Goodnight…. Sleep tight…. Don’t let the bedbugs bite. Especially when you’re far away from home!

If you’ve ever actually encountered bedbugs, you know that they’re not just part of a silly nursery rhyme. These little parasites eat you for dinner as you sleep! How gross and creepy is that?

Even worse, they also don’t go away without a fight once you have them in your stuff. So when you’re on the road, it’s very important to make sure you don’t give the bedbugs a chance to hitchhike.

So, how can you avoid bedbugs? And what should you do if you encounter them? Consider this your condensed bedbug travel guide!
Avoiding Bedbugs While Traveling

The best way to avoid bed bugs is by making sure you don’t stay in an infested room. If you get bed bugs in your stuff, you’ll take them with you from place to place along your route, and eventually bring them back home. Getting rid of them is expensive and difficult, so make your life easier—don’t get cozy with a bedbug. Here are a few ways to avoid meeting any bedbugs while you’re on the road.

  • Check reviews. If someone else has encountered bedbugs in a hotel while traveling, they’ll probably report it on Yelp or another travel review site. Do a quick perusal of recent comments about your hotel before checking in. If you see bedbug reports…. Go somewhere else.

    Do keep in mind, however, that bedbug problems are temporary. Hotels usually take care of bedbugs problems quickly. If you’re not sure if the hotel is bedbug free, you can always call the front desk to find out if an exterminator has been to the facility.

Check Reviews

  • Inspect the sheets and blankets. Before crashing, pull back the blankets and sheets on the bed. Take a close look to see if there are any bedbugs, dead bugs, or bug stains on the sheets. See something suspicious? Little peppery specks or tiny blood smears? Leave immediately! Be sure to inform management so they can take care of the problem before the next guest arrives.


  • Bring along a plastic trash bag or two. I always carry a plastic trash bag while traveling. It protects my backpack if it rains, serves as a quick (albeit tacky) extra tote, or stores stinky clothes away from clean clothes.

    If you’re worried about bedbugs, a trash bag can also help assuage your fears. Put your luggage in a trash bag and tie it tightly to avoid allowing bugs to crawl in your stuff. Before you leave, discard the bag and check your items for hitchhikers.

Inspect Sheets
What to Do if You Find Bedbugs

What if you do encounter bedbugs? The best case scenario is that you’ll see them before you toss your suitcase on top of the bed. The worst case scenario is that you’ll wake up covered in bedbug bites! Here’s what to do if bedbugs crash your vacation.

  • Leave immediately. Don’t let anything you have touch the infested location. Leave the room as soon as you see a bug! If your stuff has come in contact with the bed, be sure to inspect it thoroughly. If you just walked in the room, you might be OK. But if your stuff has been in there all night, you will have to go through everything.


  • Keep your things off the floor and the bed. Bedbugs are least likely to be on tables and other hard surfaces far away from the bed. If you have to leave something in a bedbug-infested room, keep it up and away from favorite bedbug hiding spots.


  • Take a room far away. If you switch rooms rather than hotels after finding bedbugs, request a room far away from the infested suite. Bedbugs travel, and you don’t want to end up just as badly off as before.


  • Throw away your stuff. If your clothes or pillow have come in contact with the infested furniture, throw it out. Bedbugs spread quickly and are next to impossible to get rid of. Don’t take them home with you! It can be a painful and expensive process to deal with bedbugs at home.


  • Don’t count on steaming or spraying. Bedbug killing products aren’t a substitute for professional help. You can use products to control the spread of bedbugs, but sadly, these steams and sprays are only marginally effective. Forget about trying to eradicate them. You won’t win.

What To Do If You Find Bedbugs
I stayed at a kids’ camp last summer, and one of the cabins had a couple of mattresses with bedbugs. The campers left the cabin, and the crew cleaned everything. The next group of campers moved in, and by the next day, everyone had bedbugs and many people had painful bites. It’s not worth it to put your trust in a product that doesn’t cut it!

  • Already get bit? If you don’t discover bedbugs until after they’ve already made you their midnight snack, you’ll need to treat yourself as well as care for your things. Bedbug bites can hurt a lot! Fortunately, not everyone has a bad reaction to bedbug bites. However, many people experience painful and swollen bumps. Some people even get hives and blisters!

    You’ll know you’ve been bitten by bedbugs if you see red bug bits that are grouped or linear. People commonly see groups of three bites. You may not see the bites right away—it can take a couple of days for them to show up.

    Fortunately, bed bug bites aren’t dangerous or disease carrying. You can take care of them by washing them, applying anti-itch cream, and resisting the urge to scratch. However, it’s still best to avoid them altogether.

Already Get Bit?
Bedbugs are a travel nightmare! If their biting doesn’t keep you up at night, stressing about the bugs will. To make sure your vacation doesn’t end up being the trip from the black lagoon, take measures to avoid bedbugs.

Have you ever encountered bedbugs while traveling? Let us know in the comments!

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