How To Protect Against Bed Bugs When Traveling
So you’re heading out of town on vacation and your suitcase is packed and you arrive at your destination. Your first order of business is to unpack, but you have concerns about bed bugs and don’t want to bring home any 6 legged “souvenirs”.
Just a few years ago the only time you would have heard about bed bugs is in the popular bedtime rhyme, “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite”. Today the bed bug has returned and returned with a vengeance. They pretty much are everywhere people travel, which brings us back to your hotel room.
Like most things in life, the better prepared you are the better chance of minimizing your risk with this pest. Bed bugs are very hard to control once you have them because of their biology and their habits of harborage. The top bed bug experts in the field will be the first to tell you there still is a lot we just don’t know. What we do know is what I would like to share with you about minimizing your risk when you travel.
When you arrive at the hotel, don’t be reluctant to ask if there are any known bed bug issues currently. I’d also ask what they are doing to insure that their hotel has a proactive plan in place for inspection and treatment. If their response is the proverbial “deer in the headlight” I’d see if you could catch the taxi cab driver before he leaves.
STRAIGHT TO THE BATH TUB
The first thing you will want to do is place your luggage in the bathroom’s tub. This is probably the safest place until you have a chance to inspect the room. Bedbugs aren’t as likely to be sitting in the tub. One of the worst places and the most common place for luggage is those strapped, aluminum fold out luggage stands are a bed bug haven since the webbing straps are a great place to hide, especially the hollow legs. Something else to consider if you are a frequent traveler is purchasing The Bug Zip suitcase encapsulation case. Ideal for those that like to live out of the suit case rather than using dresser and drawers.
INSPECT THE BED
This is the best place to start since this is likely going to be the first place you would find bed bugs if an infestation was present. Pull the sheet corners off and check the “piping” around the edge of the bed. Live insects, cast skins, eggs, and dried blood will be visible to the naked eye. Many of the hotels have fixed headboards fastened directly to the wall. You will want to check all around the edges.
CHECK THE REST OF THE ROOM
Look under phones, radio alarm clock, lamps, chair cushions and drawers. I always pull the drawers completely out and check the guide rails and the back side of each drawer. I once found a rather large sum of money in an envelope that likely fell from an overstuffed drawer and fell on the floor under the dresser along with a diamond ring, so keep an open mind when you’re looking.
GET EVERYONE INVOLVED
If you are traveling with children get them involved. Educate them what you’re looking for and why. The more set of eyes you have on the inspection, the better chance you will do a better job, and oh yeah, an experience they will remember for a long time. I remember my kids were with us at their favorite Mexican restaurant that we frequently visited until he saw several cockroaches coming out from behind the picture over our table. To this day they remember that restaurant as the “Cockroach place”. Not something you want to read on YELP.
THE MORNING AFTER
Know what the bites look like and check for them in the morning. If you do have bites don’t hesitate to contact the front desk. Ask to be moved to another part of the hotel, preferably another floor (or two) away.
There is no known disease associated with bed bugs, and not everyone will have a reaction to the bite of a bedbug. If you enjoy traveling, do your part to lessen the chance of exposure, but until some panacea is discovered to eliminate this pest the experts tell us to “learn to live with them”.