Dealing with Bedbugs: Your How-To Travel Guide

by Donna on September 15, 2011

Adult male of the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L

Uninvited guests can really spoil the party—and the trip.

Planning on bringing home some extra long-term house guests from your travels? Interested in waking up to itchy red welts? Bedbugs have become a problem everywhere and not just confined to the hotel room. They can hitch a ride home on your clothes or in your suitcase, resulting in major eradication expenses not to mention the discomfort. Don’t think this is just a problem for cheap no-star hotels. In New York Victoria’s Secret was forced to close temporarily for eradication, and the Waldorf Astoria was sued for bedbug contamination.

So what can a traveler do? There is no foolproof solution, but there are some precautions you can take.

1. Inspect your hotel room before unpacking.
Bedbugs leave tell-tail traces. Lift up the bottom of the mattress and look for brown spots that could mean dried blood from previous victims. Pull the sheets back if you are at all concerned.

2. NEVER put your suitcase on the floor.
Request a suitcase rack or put it on a table. Clear off the desk if necessary and use the laptop elsewhere. If possible, keep the suitcase away from the bed. If you are not in the room, and not using your suitcase, zip it up.

3. Remove that bedspread.
They wash the sheets, but who knows when was the last time that bedspread or pillow sham was cleaned? Remove it and stash it in the closet.

4. Plastic.
Plastic bags just might be your best friend while traveling. I can’t imagine leaving home without them. Use the gallon zipper bags from the grocery store, or whatever size works best for you. They help protect your stuff against whatever you may encounter. Little critters are looking for an easy soft nest and are not interested in burrowing through plastic. It also helps when your bag gets “randomly selected” for extra screening and someone else’s paws are going through your things.

5. Careful when you get home.
Unload the plastic bags. Clean or wash everything. Check shoes and extra purses, Wipe out the suitcase. Then share your photos with family and friends and remember a wonderful trip.

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