In this guide, we will study some important ways to avoid bed bugs while travelling so that you not only enjoy a pest-free vacation but also avoid bringing them back into your home.
First: let us consider how bed bug infestations occurred over the years.
Bed bugs: A brief history
Bed bugs are back, and they are bigger and more annoying than ever. And if you are one of those who believe that bed bugs are found only in dirty, crowded or low-income residential areas; think again. Bed bugs have very little to do with cleanliness. They are found even in five star hotels and motels. The last two decades have been especially crucial in setting the stage for today’s rampant infestations in United States.
Students, travelers, squatters or all those people looking to save money often picked up discarded furniture from the streets. These items were heavily infested with bed bugs. People who threw them out rarely bothered to take the trouble of marking or labeling them as ‘infested’. Often; discarded mattresses were simply refurbished and resold or used without following any precautions .As a result, bed bugs got a free ride into other homes, dormitories, student hostels, daycares etc. From these areas, it was not difficult for them to spread to other cities and states.
Individuals with the infestations also remained unaware of it for long. While many would experience bites and itchy red welts, most were immune to it. Still others would visit doctors for treating them; however, the bites would often be attributed to mosquito bites, flea bites or simply allergic reactions.
Furthermore; bed bugs today are more resistant to most chemicals and pesticides than ever. As a result; despite precautions taken by motels and hotel management, it is not easy to keep these pests in check. Hotel guests are unaware of the basic tips they can take to avoid bed bugs while traveling. The result: they bring these pests into their homes and the situation simply spirals out of control.
Therefore, we are presenting some basic precautions you can take to avoid bed bugs on your travels. Some of these tips have been recommended by The American Hotel & Lodge Association as well as the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.
5 Ways to avoid bed bugs on your travels
- Learn to identify bed bugs– It is essential that you know how they look like if you wish to avoid bed bugs. Bed bugs are wingless brown colored insects measuring approximately 1 to 5mm in length, with flat and oval bodies. You might also see signs of bed bugs on your hotel mattresses: fecal droppings which appear like reddish brown or rust colored stains, discarded shells or exoskeletons of the bed bugs, as well as a sweetly obnoxious almond like odor in the air.
- Packing tips– Before leaving on your journey make sure you follow these precautions to avoid bed bugs. Use hard shelled suitcases that have fewer spaces for hiding. Besides these, make use of sealable plastic bags to seal in the clothes, toiletries, and other necessities. Some travelers have also successfully avoided bed bugs by using trash bags to seal all the contents in their suitcase.
- Luggage storing tips– Another very important tip to avoid bed bugs from coming inside your luggage is to store the bags in the motel’s bathroom. Bed bugs usually hide near their food sources; which means that they tend to inhabit areas near the beds as they are closer to the sleeping hosts. They rarely hide in bathrooms owing to fewer nooks and crannies, so your luggage is likely to be safer in there.
- Visual inspection– Another important tip that can help you avoid bed bugs in hotels is to perform a thorough inspection of the room. Pull back all the bed sheets and mattresses or covers. Using a flash light inspect the headboards, box spring, corners of the sheets and mattresses. Also check under the lamp posts, behind paintings and frames, in the pleats of upholstery and linen etc. If you see fecal stains, rust colored spots and other signs of bed bug activity, alert the hotel management about changing the room. If it is possible, move to another hotel. When seeking an alternative room in the same motel, it is best to avoid a room that is directly above, below or adjacent to the one you vacate.
- Avoid bed bugs after you return– Once you are back home from your travel, you must ensure inspecting your bags for bed bugs. Do this outdoors, in the garage, balcony, hallways or your yard so that you avoid bringing the bed bugs into your home. Wash all your clothing in hot water to kill off eggs and larvae of bed bugs. Thoroughly vacuum and steam clean the bag and also examine its pockets, seams and linings to ensure there are no unwanted visitors in there. Afterwards, store the bag in closets or lofts using plastic sealing bags.
These are few of the important tips to help you avoid bed bugs while travelling.