Many people take trips during the holiday season and the summer months, which unfortunately means that a lot of bed bugs will be traveling as well. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, and they love environments with lots of people in close proximity. Because of this, certain locations that are very likely to be a place of departure or arrival, such as college dorms and hotels, have a high risk of bed bug infestations. Relatives’ homes are not guaranteed to be safe from bed bugs either, especially those with residents or other guests who have also been traveling.
Luckily, there are some steps to reduce your risk of giving bed bugs free rides and meals while traveling. The National Pest Management Association recommends the following steps for travelers.
Upon Your Arrival
Bed bugs are least likely to be found in the bathroom, so before you settle in for the rest of your trip, place your luggage there until you've had a chance to make sure the coast is clear. Check the following:
- Thoroughly inspect the entire room you are staying in with a flashlight before unpacking, including behind the headboard, under lights, and inside dressers, drawers, sofas and chairs.
- Pull back the sheets and inspect the headboard, mattress seams and box springs, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains, spots or shed bed bug skins.
- Signs of bed bug activity can include small, white translucent eggs, cast skins and inky-dark fecal stains on the mattress.
- Look for little dots of blood or black specs that look like mold or ground pepper.
- Keep your eyes peeled for the bugs themselves. They are about the size of an apple seed and you might find them in corners or the seams of bedding.
- If you notice bed bugs in your room, notify management and request to change rooms immediately. Be sure the room is at least two floors away, since the bugs may travel through wallboards and electrical sockets.
During Your Stay
- Keep your luggage off of the ground.
- Place suitcase in a plastic trash bag or large zip up bags (available from luggage or travel retailers specifically for this purpose) during the duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure. *Tip: Pack clothes in zip lock bag for easy cleaning upon returning home.
- Do not place luggage on upholstered surfaces. The safest place is in the bathroom in the middle of a tile floor or on a luggage rack after it has been thoroughly inspected. Do not use a luggage rack if it has hollow legs, where bed bugs may hide unseen.
Upon Your Return
- When you return home, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house.
- Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before bringing indoors and storing away.
- To remove any bed bugs or eggs that may have traveled home with you, place all clothes in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes, even those items you haven’t worn. Then wash all clothes in hot water. Dry clean only clothes should be thrown in the dryer and run on high heat.
***If you do find bed bugs upon your return home, we DO NOT recommend using do it yourself treatments. These products often do not take care of the entire infestation and can potentially cause the bed bugs to scatter throughout your home, making them harder to get rid of in the long run!***
Although an inspection of your hotel room is probably the last thing you want to do when checking in after a long day of travel, doing so, along with cleaning your items when you return home, can save you the misery and expense if you brought bed bugs into your home.
Having someone knowledgeable on the subject is extremely reassuring when an infestation occurs, so brush up on your bed bug knowledge here. Remember, no one wants to gift or receive a bed bug infestation, so spread the word and make sure your family and friends are vigilant when traveling! Call us at 262-797-4160 or contact us online if an infestation occurs; you can always count on Batzner.