How to protect yourself from bed bugs while traveling

Summer vacation season may be winding down, but fall weekend getaways and holiday travel are right around the corner. While most people consider a vacation a relaxing, refreshing break, a trip can turn into a nightmare if you return home to discover you've brought bed bugs back with you. It's easy to pick up these unwanted souvenirs, and they are notoriously difficult to get rid of without help from professional exterminators. Remember that it is important to take precautionary steps to ensure your next trip doesn't leave you with bed bug bites or an infested house!

Check your room
If you're staying at a hotel, it's imperative to check your room for any signs of bed bugs as soon as you arrive. The pests have many different hiding places, but as their name suggests, they are often found around beds. Pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress, and don't forget to examine the corners and seams, where it's easy for bed bugs to hide.

Don't stop after checking just the mattress – there are plenty of other places bed bugs like to lurk. Look over the box spring, headboard and even the nightstand. Don't forget to check the sofa bed if your room has one. The bugs can also live in carpeting, so scan the floor for bugs as well. Did you bring a flashlight? Use it to help you inspect the room. If you don't have one, you can use a flashlight app on a family member's smartphone.

What are you looking for?
You can examine the entire hotel room closely, but that won't really help you if you aren't sure of exactly what you're looking for. When checking the room, look for the pests themselves, which are flat and brown. Young bed bugs may be harder to spot, since they are nearly colorless and blend into white sheets and mattresses.

Search for more than just living bugs. You'll also want to examine the hotel room for other evidence of the insects. Look for cast skins, which the young bugs shed as they grow. Do you notice any small stains on the mattress or near the bed? It may be blood from bites or bed bug fecal matter. If you find any live bugs or evidence of an infestation, it's important to request a room change or find a new hotel before a pest finds its way into your luggage!

Keeping your luggage pest free
While it's crucial to inspect a room for signs of bed bugs, it isn't always a guaranteed way to ensure there are no pests present in the room. These insects are adept at hiding, and they can be easy to miss.

It may be tempting to drop your luggage on the floor or bed after a long plane ride or exhausting car trip, but avoid putting suitcases and bags in those two spots at all costs. Pests can easily crawl into your luggage if it's placed on the bed or carpeting. Instead, put your bags on luggage racks, on a table or even in the bathroom, where bed bugs rarely hide. Some experts even advise covering luggage with a trash bag so no pests are able to crawl inside.

Bed bugs can hide in clothes, and spread throughout your bags, so travelers are advised to keep clothing they have worn inside the hotel in sealed plastic bags before stowing it in their suitcases. Because they come into direct contact with the bed, vacationers should be especially careful about ensuring their pajamas are sealed before being packed up.

Avoid bringing home bugs
Even if you've taken every precaution to avoid bed bugs, sometimes they can still sneak into your luggage or clothing unnoticed. Keep your house pest free by unpacking your luggage in the garage when you return home – this will ensure the critters have nothing to grab and prevent them from spreading.

Closely examine each piece of clothing and your suitcase for any bugs that may have hitchhiked back to your home. Even if everything looks pest free, it's a good idea to wash and dry all items you brought with you. This will kill any bugs that you may have missed. When you've finished unpacking, don't store that suitcase in your closet. Leave it in the garage just in case any pests are still hiding in the seams. Missing just a bug or two could result in the pests spreading throughout your home.

Taking precautionary measures is the first step in preventing a bed bug infestation. Unfortunately, it is still possible to wind up with a pest problem after returning home from a trip. In this instance, a pest control professional can recommend the best treatment to rid your home of bed bugs.


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