6 Ways to Beat the Bed Bug Outbreak While Traveling

Bedbug warning sign

Bedbug warning sign

by Russell Riviera,

These days, Bed bug country is far from a make-believe place, since the little bloodsucking pests have been spotted everywhere from coast to coast. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that bed bugs can show up everywhere from fancy hotels to rustic campgrounds, and their presence is unrelated to a place’s cleanliness. To get rid of bed bugs takes a tremendous amount of diligence on the part of the hospitality industry and what’s worse is that the suckers can spread easily through travel since typical hotel guests may not always look closely at linens or carpeting. Once the bugs stow aboard your luggage, they may jump off at the next warm place, whether it’s another hotel or your home.

Are there ways to avoid them? Possibly. Here’s how.

Know What They Look Like

Beyond knowing that they’re tiny and come out more at night, the average person may not be as familiar with their appearance. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) site says bed bugs are between 1 mm and 7 mm, about the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny, so they can be seen by the naked eye if you’re looking for them. They can be brown to red in color, depending on how recently they’ve fed.

Recognize the Signs

Even if you don’t see bugs themselves, since they tend to hide in dark, warm places, the EPA said you can see where they’ve been recently, such as looking for shed skin, dark spots, blood smears or a sweet, musty odor.

Check and Clean Your Surroundings

The EPA and CDC advise looking into places that they could be can help, such as furniture, beds, or couches. Not everyone knows to do this while traveling, but it can be part of your checking in process into a new hotel room or vacation rental. Vacuuming and changing linens when you arrive may work if you’re staying at a home, but may not work at a hotel. However, housekeeping is supposed to do this routinely anyway.

Store Your Belongings Away from Possible Infestation

If you want to get rid of bed bugs at a hotel, consider placing your luggage on a rack so it does not come into contact with the carpet, beds, furniture or walls, which are all places where bed bugs can enter.

Find Out About the Hotel’s Treatment Methods

Because bed bugs are considered a public health concern, good hotels should be happy to share their prevention methods. Check online travel sites to see if guests have reported bed bugs at individual properties. The Bed Bug Registry website invites people to share where and when they’ve spotted bed bugs nationwide in the U.S. and Canada. There are more than 20,000 sightings in 12,000 locations.

Inspect Your Luggage Before Departure

While repacking, look through all your items plus your suitcase. If you fear infection, travel site RandMcNally suggests putting your luggage in a lawn-sized garbage bag on the way home. This will stop them from spreading from your suitcase into your car. Finally, when you get home, take your suitcase to the laundry area first and wash your laundry in hot water right away. You can even visit the local laundromat instead of unpacking elsewhere in your home.

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