You have planned and saved for an awesome vacation and are excited to be on your way. You have meticulously packed everything in your bags that you will need for your trip. Here is something I hope you don’t pack for your return trip…..BED BUGS!
Nothing kills those Happy Vacation Vibes like when bed bugs stow away on your bags and find their way to your house. It happens. Getting bed bugs out of your place once they have moved in can be costly, time consuming and difficult. Some bed bugs have even become tolerant to pesticides that are used to kill them.
Ben Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
How to Avoid Bed Bugs on Vacation
Knowledge is Power
Bed bugs are reddish brown colored and about the size of an apple seed. They do not like heat from your body and instead prefer to bite you then move on to where it is cooler. Some of their favorite habitats are mattresses, furniture, headboards and YOUR LUGGAGE! They can be found in apartment buildings, public places, community transportation or HOTELS! There have also been a lot of recent reports of bed bugs have hitch hiked their way onto airplanes. Yikes! I am itching just thinking about this.
When you arrive in your hotel room, avoid putting your suitcases on the bed or carpeted floor. Instead, place on a dresser or hard surface first while you do a quick room inspection. A pocket flashlight can be handy during this process.
I like to use the Luggage Jack in the room for my suitcase. Pull it out first and really look at it to see if there are any bed bugs hiding out on the bottom, on the straps or between the slats before using it. Don’t use it until you have given it the “all clear”. Some people even store their suitcase in a large plastic bag during their stay.
Inspect Beds and Furnishings
Don’t get too crazy about it, but it never hurts to check the mattress especially around the edges and the corners as well as the pillow seams. You would be able to easily see bed bugs or their excrement against most white mattresses or pillows. Also take a quick peak around the headboard. If you see anything that looks suspicious, I would recommend calling the Front Desk to have someone validate your findings and move you somewhere else.
Itching and Bites
If you start to experience itching or notice clusters of bites on your skin. Double check the area at once. Treat the bites with hydrocortisone cream and take extra precautions with your belongings. Again report any findings to the establishment at once and ask to be relocated right away (preferably not the room right next door!)
Look over your bags again before repacking when you are preparing for check out. If you see signs of bed bugs, place your suitcases in large trash bags if possible.
Regardless of whether you think you have bed bugs or not, once you get home, unpack and launder all items right away. Make sure everything gets a cycle in the dryer on high heat since heat of 120 degrees or more kills bed bugs. Just to be safe, you can store your suitcases in the garage, an area without carpet or in large trash bags.
If you discover bed bugs after arriving home, make sure to contact the Manager at the establishment so that they can do an investigation and treat the necessary areas. Hopefully this at least saves other travelers from a similar fate.
Hopefully this wont happen to you, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware and know what to look for. It happened to a friend of mine on her trip to Mexico. She didn’t find the little critters until she had been dealing with the rash like bites for a few days and finally discovered the bed bugs in her apartment. It was an exhausting process getting rid of them.
Having bed bugs is frustrating and can be embarrassing, but it can happen to anyone! If you travel frequently, you have an increased risk of encountering these little travelers.
Don’t be paranoid, but do be Knowledgeable!