Bed bugs. They seem to be the hottest topic these days, especially when it comes to traveling. As much as I love seeing the world, hotels are my least favorite part of the trip. I do not always trust their cleanliness, so bed bugs are an issue that I am regularly concerned about. While I am not entirely particular about what hotel I stay in, I make sure to take necessary precautions when it comes to avoiding bugs of any kind, even if that means spraying the hotel’s perimeter with insect spray and covering my bed with bug spray. I’ve also resorted to pretending that I am camping when it comes to hotels, so that I am in the mind-set to deal with anything I come across.
That being said, here’s my advice for avoiding bed bugs while you are vacationing:
Before you go:
It’s always a good idea to check your hotel on Trip Advisor. People love to complain, so any news of bed bugs is sure to show up on this site. Before Fiji, we really wanted to stay at one of the resorts on its own private island. It sounded like the perfect spot, so I just checked Trip Advisor before we booked, only to find that the most recent comments had to do with beg bugs. Immediately, we decided on another hotel. Even if you are staying in a 4 or 5 star hotel, it does not hurt to check out any recent comments about cleanliness or reports of bugs. You never know who stayed in your room before you got there.
The site also includes travelers’ pictures of the hotel, so that you can see exactly what previous visitors have seen, not just the digitally enhanced photos used by a hotel itself.
Avoid them while traveling:
As soon as you check in, do not just crash on your bed, no matter how tired you are. Check the bed as soon as you get in the room. Bed bugs are visible, especially the females who are filled with eggs (CBS News), so look for them first. Check the headboard, creases in the mattress, bed frame, etc. This sounds gross, but you’ll be grateful if you do wind up spotting any crawling creatures. If you find any sign of the bugs, leave your room and head to the front desk to ask for a new room. If your new room has them or the hotel refuses to give you a new room, find a new place to stay. There is absolutely no reason for you to have to stay in a room with bed bugs.
If you don’t see any sign of the bugs, you should still take some precautions just in case:
There are companies that make bed beg proof covers for your mattress, however, they can be expensive, and I would only suggest this if you are planning on spending a long time in one destination. This would probably beneficial if you were studying or volunteering abroad, since you would be using the same bed for several weeks.
This method does not work if you will only be spending a short amount of time at each hotel you plan on staying at, which is why I just bought Sleep-Tite, a non-toxic bed bug eliminator. It is made by a brand called Fairy Tales, a company that also carries products for lice. This product should be sprayed on all parts of the bed: headboard, frame, and lines. For vacation use, it should be used nightly. While it doesn’t smell exceptionally wonderful, it has a light, somewhat sour odor, I’d rather spray my sheets to avoid any bed bug exposure. The best part about this spray is the fact that it comes in a travel size (3.2 FL OZ.) bottle. I bought mine at Ulta, for only $5.95. (Though I haven’t used it yet, I plan on bringing it to Washington D.C. this week on the class trip I am chaperoning. I’ll write up a review of the product next week.)
Avoid bringing home new friends:
I’ve read in several places that you should never put your suitcase on your beg, since bed bugs will crawl on anything and love cloth/zippers. Find a hard surface to go through the items in your bag.
Also, while it may be inconvenient, keep your clothes in your bag, don’t unpack into the drawers, it is unnecessary, plus how clean can the drawers really be? Also, bed bugs can live in other places around the room: couches, chairs, etc. If you’re worried about clean and dirty clothes mixing, use a plastic bag to store dirty clothes.
Then when you are home at last, try to avoid bringing your suitcase inside. I bring mine to my deck and unpack there. I shake out all of my clothes before putting them into a laundry basket and bringing them to the laundry room. Finally, wash your clothes with hot water, which will kill any strays you may have missed. If you do not have an outside space, I’d suggest unpacking in your bathroom or bathtub. This way the critters can’t latch onto any fabric surfaces. The last thing you need is to bring this problem home as a souvenir.
Hopefully, you never come across bed bugs, but with outbreaks all over the world your chances for encountering them are increased. Use the above tips to keep your run in with the bugs as brief as possible.